I tend to keep running while I’m on vacation, because I enjoy it, it’s a nice way to start the day, and you can even use your run to explore a city (like I did in London last summer). While I was on vacation in Maine, I didn’t go for a long run, but I did enjoy a 5ish mile run each morning I was in Portland, kick-starting my appetite for eating all the burgers and cookies, sampling the ice cream spots, and enjoying my first dinner at the amazing Fore Street restaurant. There was no better way to greet the morning in this port city than coming down the hill from our B&B in the West End, running the Portland Eastern Promenade along the waterfront, and looping back uphill for a nice cool-down stroll. After stopping at the bakery for a breakfast cookie of course…
The Eastern Promenade is a 2.1-mile trail built along the path of an old railroad corridor on the Portland waterfront. The start of the trail is at the junction of Commercial Street, which runs along the water in the Old Port area of the city, and the Maine State Pier. This point was just over a mile’s jog from my B&B, so it was the perfect length to get in 5 or so miles and a 1-mile cool down on the way back. My knee and hip can’t take extreme uphill running, and it is quite literally a run down to the water in this city! I wasn’t quite sure on the first morning when I was going to hit the trail. I got to the water, made a left, and knew I had to keep going. I realized I was there when I saw the old railroad cars on the side of the path. The Maine Polar Express is old-fashioned and adorable.
The water view along the first part of the trail includes the pier with larger ships, which turns into smaller boats, and becomes just the water and even a few spots of beach. It seems to be a popular location to host races, because there was a start and finish line marked when I was running there for a race that had already happened, as well as signs being put up for what turned out to be a race happening on the Saturday I was there (just a little while after I finished my own run!) Because it’s an out and back, Brett joked that it looked like the world’s shortest race. I think it was a 5k or 10k.
I really love being able to see the water when I’m running. It’s part of what I enjoy about running on boardwalks or dirt trails near water, and even though this path is almost entirely regular pavement, there are a few places where you can go onto sand for .1-.2 miles. And if you want to vary the terrain, you can head up the Loring Memorial Trail via an entrance from the promenade, which makes for a little bit of hilly trail running.
The steps up and down are steep, but it’s really cool to feel like you’re running in the woods one minute and then, once you come down again, be able to look out at the ocean. That’s actually one of my favorite things about coastal New England in general. I grew up in a Connecticut town that’s fairly hilly and woodsy, but we were also just 15-20 minutes from the Sound. I appreciate the feeling of being surrounded by trees and nature but also having such easy access to water. The Portland area definitely fits this mold, as does Kennebunkport.
The photos above all showcase the trail in the early, rather gray morning light, because I woke up and got out for my run before 7am each day so I could be back for breakfast at the B&B and we could get a jump on our activities. But one morning, Brett and I went back for a walk so he could see it too, and we got our sunny harbor views at last. A little more sun than he bargained for, actually! We both agreed that if you’re in Portland and looking for a good place to walk or run without having to get in a car, the Eastern Promenade Trail is the place to go.
Do you stick to your running routine while on vacation?
What are your favorite cities to run in?
If you’ve been to Portland or live there, where do you like to walk or run?
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