Posted on August 1, 2023 and last updated on August 01, 2023

ACE Ballfield Loop, Cliff Island


  • Preserve Size: ~15 acres
  • Trail Mileage: ~1-mile loop
  • Pets: yes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Sights: sandy beaches, marsh, bluffs, grassy fields

Cliff Island, reachable by Portland ferry, has a tiny year-round population. Its unique shape, somewhat like an anvil, protects two mostly undeveloped harbors with sandy beaches and bluffs. A marsh between the beaches is a popular resting spot for migratory birds.

The Oceanside Conservation Trust of Casco Bay has protected a relatively large area of land on the eastern side of the island, enabling a short walk to two beaches with beautiful views.

The only downside to this island is it is riddled with poison ivy in summertime! The ivy growth flourishes in large clumps all around the low-brush areas and edges almost every path. It was so dense on the trail to North Point that we turned back. (The path is marked with a hand-made wooden sign at the far end of the beach. It’s marked in red on my map.)

In the end, we made a relatively poison-ivy safe loop of roughly one mile from the north harbor to the south harbor, through the ball field, down Beach Lane and across the Meadows back to the beach where we started. The path connecting the north and south harbors is easy to find at the eastern end of the beach. While it, too, has some poison ivy, it is not too bad. The trail follows some ledge above the marsh, keeping you on dry land with ocean views. The Meadows, off Beach Lane, is a large grassy area, mown into large paths around tree stands. The area is marked with a sign on Beach Lane.

Directions: You can take a 120-minute ferry to Cliff Island from Portland, or, if you arrive by boat, it is easy to pull up to the north harbor. The south harbor, too, seems accessible.

Let me know if you have any trail updates or corrections!