Eastern Trail

Submitted by mag on

The Eastern Trail is a joy to ride, and well worth the extra trip to get to it.  It’s part of  If the East Coast Greenway - if you are following that you should definitely plan to spend several days enjoying the trail and its environs. It's one of the loveliest, most interesting and most pleasant to ride sections of the ECG. The completed portions are not long - about 40 miles of offroad trail is completed so far, but the scenery, diversity and charm can't be beat anywhere.  For much of the way you are riding through dense forest, even though you are in or near urban areas and close to conveniences and activities.  From the forest, the trail will suddenly emerge onto vast spectacular marsh vistas such as the one at Scarborough.  

The northeast end of the trail is in South Portland, near some wonderful sites and restaurants.  The Southwestern end is just north of Kennebunk inviting a  number of great sidetrips. There is a short break in the trail near Saco and Biddeford but there are excellent instructions on the website at Easterntrail.org. There are also recent florescent orange blazes painted on the roads marked ET with an arrow for guidance - I've attached a sample photo below.

From our wonderful campsite at Silver Springs we had the opportunity to experience the charm and diversity first hand with many different excursion loops. 

Silver Springs Campground

Surface and Trail Notes

​The surface is mostly hard-packed sand.  From South Portland it is paved for 5.2 miles from the Bug Light all the way to the big sports fields Gary Maietta Way. From there you are on local roads with good shoulders mostly along Highland for 4.4 miles until you reenter the trail at the beautiful, eerie Scarborough marsh.  From there you are on hardpacked sand for the next 7 miles.  The surface varies from a bit rough starting at Pine Point Road to near perfect as you get near the town of Saco.

Just after you pass the Silver Spring Campground (which makes a great overnight stop for camping or cabins) you will come to the John Andrews  Bridge across US 1 - a major accomplishment of the Eastern Trail Alliance.  

John Andrews Bridge on Eastern Trail near Saco, ME Maine

 

A little way farther on the trail dips down to US1 to cross under the 295 extension to Old Orchard Beach.  This area requires some caution since you cross 4 feeder roads, but we have found drivers to be courteous. Hannaford grocery stores are a supporter of the trail, and just under the freeway is a wonderful grocery store that can be easily accessed directly from the trail (use caution in the parking lot).  The trail continues for a few miles, ending at the Thornton academy and from there you should pay careful attention to the trail cue sheet (from the ECG site) and the blazes painted on the highway.  If you do you will discover a fun trail and a substantial bridge that bypasses the worst of Alfred Road and crosses at a safe crossing with traffic light. (Our only comment is again - why oh why must they put the barrier posts so close together??)  

Bridge on Eastern Trail near Biddeford, ME Maine ETA East Coast Greenway

 

Here is a picture of Biker Jim heading northeast at the point (shown on small map) where the trail leaves the road soon after crossing Alfred Road.  There is a good blaze, but you might still overlook it if you aren't watching for it. 

Eastern Trail, Biddeford, ME Maine Alfred Road bypass trail

Heading southwest, once you cross Alfred Road, you are back on the delightful off-road hard-packed trail, which you can ride 6 more miles all the way to Alewife Road.  The trail crosses the I95 Maine Turnpike just before the end.  (note:  as of June, 2012 the trail is currently signed as "Closed" at the Turnpike, probably due to a small but visible fissure in the earth at the foundation at the ballwark for the bridge over the turnpike. It doesn't really look dangerous but it might be a good idea to check local conditions. ) 

From here it's an easy ride into Kennebunk and Kennebunkport and this is a highly recommended loop ride.. 

Development Potential

The completed portions of the trail are a huge accomplishment and well worth any effort it takes to get to the trail.  It also has the precious advantage of an active and committed trail development organization with a grand vision so it will only get better. 

Surrounding towns, facilities and area

Diversity and charm. And the other advantage of being in a very bikable area.  If you’ve been following along, you know that what these intrepid but not super-jock bikers mean is gorgeous scenery, not too steep, not too many  shoulder-less roads, and not too much high speed traffic and the drivers are aware and courteous to bikers. 

 

South West
ME
40.00 miles
Solid
Railroad Grade
Railtrail
Multi-Use

Information Related to Trail: 

Scarborough Marsh from the Eastern Trail
Scarborough Marsh from the Eastern Trail
near Scarborough Marsh on Maine's Eastern Trail
near Scarborough Marsh on Maine's Eastern Trail
Biker Jim cycling on the Eastern Trail Bridge across Scarborough Marsh near Portland Maine
Biker Jim on Eastern Trail Bridge across Scarborough Marsh near Portland Maine
Silver Springs Campground
Silver Springs Campground
John Andrews Bridge on Eastern Trail near Saco, ME Maine
John Andrews Bridge on Eastern Trail near Saco, ME Maine
John Andrews Bridge on Eastern Trail near Saco, ME Maine
John Andrews Bridge on Eastern Trail near Saco, ME Maine
approach to John Andrews Bridge from Saco on Eastern Trail near Saco, ME Maine
Approach to John Andrews Bridge
Eastern Trail, Biddeford, ME Maine Alfred Road bypass trail
Eastern Trail blaze as it leaves local roads Biddeford
Bypass Alfred Road on Eastern Trail near Biddeford, ME Maine ETA East Coast Greenway
Rough trail to bypass Alfred Road near Biddeford Maine
Bridge on Eastern Trail near Biddeford, ME Maine ETA East Coast Greenway
Bridge on Eastern Trail near Biddeford, Maine
Bridge on Eastern Trail near Biddeford, Maine
Bridge on Eastern Trail near Biddeford, Maine
Western terminus of Eastern Trail near Kennebunk, ME Maine
End of Eastern Trail at Alewife Road north of Kennebunk