Fort Williams Park, Cape Elizabeth

This hugely popular park is free and allows dogs (which can even be off leash in a designated area at the far southern end of the park). Parking is abundant and free from Nov. 1 to May 1. One million people visit the park every year, so don’t expect to have the place to yourself except, perhaps, when the weather is truly miserable.

The paths I’ve put on my map show everywhere people can walk, car free. This includes the approximately 1-mile Cliff Walk, along the raggedy, dramatic coast, and several old asphalt lanes that crisscross the park. Most of the paths in the park are wheelchair/universally accessible. There are just a few staircases here and there, and walkers and wheels can easily find alternative ways to get around them.

The main attractions are the iconic lighthouse and the crumbling military installations. Fort Williams was first established as a military reservation in the late 19th century, although guns and cannons were never fired from this spot. It remained an active fort and command post through 1963, when it was finally decommissioned. The town of Cape Elizabeth bought the land for $200,000 in 1964 and turned it into an official park in 1976.

You’ll find the usual park amenities: tennis courts, pickleball courts, playgrounds, fields, a little pond, gardens, picnic tables, gazebos, etc. All with a stunningly beautiful backdrop of open fields and shimmering sea.

Here’s a map of the park, the Friends of Fort Williams Park.

Directions: The address is 1000 Shore Road. From 295 in Portland, take Route 77 south to South Portland. Go left on Broadway, then right on Cottage Road. Cottage Road becomes Shore Road at the Cape Elizabeth town line.

Check out more info and photos from Portland Head Lighthouse at Carefree Creative, a Maine-based web company that has helped us with our website!

Trundy Point, Cape Elizabeth

Trundy Point isn’t so much a place to walk as it is a spot to visit. The point’s small cove and beach, and massive jutting rock that looms over both, is a beautiful place to hang out if you want to read by the ocean, look for shells or seabirds, or check out the crashing surf after a storm.

There is a scruffy little loop trail on the headland. It’s a bit of a steep scramble up the side of the flaky rock, but once you’re on the top, the path is relatively easy and flat. This place is cherished by local people.

Directions: The point is in the neighborhood of Shore Acres. From Old Orchard House Road, turn onto Trundy Road to enter Shore Acres. Follow the road more of less straight until it meets Reef Road, which forms a loop. When Reef Road curves around near the ocean, you’ll see the cove. There is a small pullover space for two or so cars.

Dyer Woods, Cape Elizabeth

The people who live near this little forest are lucky! It is a quiet and pretty spot, and some of the trees are quite large and seem old. The short network of trails is really well marked with green “G” Greenbelt signs (although I seem to have missed a possible loop that you can spot on the C.E. land trust’s map). There is a little pond tucked inside the parcel that neighbors say is a decent place to ice skate. You can access the woods from several spots, with two of these entrances running along the side of people’s yards. Perhaps the best place to park if you’re taking a car (although I can’t imagine you’d drive here — it’s really a place for neighbors to walk to), is off Blueberry Road.

Directions: The access points are off Woodland Road, Blueberry Road, Fernwood Drive and Cliff Avenue. I recommend starting from Woodland or Blueberry roads.

Turkey Hill Farm Trail, Cape Elizabeth

This is an interesting Cape Elizabeth Land Trust parcel close to the Shore Acres neighborhood, used mostly by neighbors. The trails are unmarked, and it’s unclear exactly where the preserve boundaries begin and end. The trails seem to continue on to someone’s private land — someone who doesn’t seem to mind people walking there — and up to some dilapidated military towers from a bygone era. I’ve tried to show the trails that I think are mostly on public property. Also nearby are some trails called Whaleback trails, across Old Ocean House and down Whaleback Way.

Directions: The best place to access these trails is from Old Ocean House Road, close to where it meets Trundy Road. Or you can go down Aaron Road, which dead ends at a water tower and close to the very small trail system.

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Highlands Trail, Cape Elizabeth

This is a lovely, short, easy trail linking Broad Cove to Two Lights Road. You’ll walk by some small ponds and along a few boardwalks. This trail is part of the town’s Greenbelt. There are no obvious places to park — it really seems more a trail used by people living nearby. You could easily park at Kettle Cove and walk over.

Directions: You can pick up the trail from two spots on Two Lights Road, which are marked with little green G signs. Or you could pick up the trailhead where Pine Ridge Road in Broad Cove starts to loop around.

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Crescent Beach State Park, Cape Elizabeth

This is another beloved spot for Cape Elizabethians (I used to be one), and other locals and tourists. It includes a gorgeous mile-long sandy beach, in other words, prime real estate. The beach and 100 acres here are rented by the state from the Sprague family for a nominal fee — hopefully a deal that will extend into perpetuity. This place, if you are lucky and if you visit at dusk, can slay you with its sunsets — but it is dramatic at any time of day, in any weather. The loop here, if you walk down Crescent Beach, climb up on the grassy bank at the end, and walk through the fields and woods to the access road, heading back across the parking lot and walking behind the dunes, is 2.7 miles.

Like many popular spots in Maine, visiting here in the off-season is so wonderful. Park at Kettle Cove (where there is another little trail) or the deserted main parking lot.

Dogs are allowed off season (Oct.1-March 31), but must be on leash.

Directions: Kettle Cove and Crescent Beach State Parks are adjacent to one another and are located 8 miles south of Portland, off of ME-77. Kettle Cove is located at the end of Ocean House Road, left off of ME-77; continue 0.5 miles farther on ME-77 to find the Crescent Beach entrance and gate.

Check out more info and photos from Crescent Beach State Park and Kettle Cove State Park at Carefree Creative, a Maine-based web company that has helped us with our website!


Two Lights State Park, Cape Elizabeth

A very popular spot for visitors to Maine. This 41-acre park offers amazing views of turbulent surf stewing along the rocky coast. Plus, it’s very close to the Lobster Pound, where you can eat fried onion rings while watching crashing waves and listening to screaming gulls. The paths here, about 1 mile of them, are gentle and easy — so good for people not so steady on their feet. There is an old watch tower and the remains of buttresses from the days when this was a World War II fort.

Directions (from Maine Trail Finder): From I-295 take Exit 6A and follow signs for Route 77 South. If coming from the north, after merging onto Route 302/Forest Avenue stay in the lane farthest right and stay to the right of the dividing barrier and follow signs for Route 77 South. Continue straight on ME Route 77/State Street through downtown Portland and over the Casco Bay Bridge into South Portland. After the bridge, continue continue straight through the first light, and at the second light turn right to continue on ME Route 77/Ocean Street. Continue to follow ME Route 77 for 4.6 miles. Take a slight left onto Two Lights Road and continue for another mile until you reach Tower Lane. Take a slight right onto Tower Lane and follow it to the parking lot and trail head just beyond control station. There will also be signs directing to the State Park from ME Route 77.


Hobstone Woods, Cape Elizabeth

I wouldn’t go out of my way to walk here, but it’s a nice 21-acre preserve for neighbors who want to take a stroll or walk their dogs. It’s about a one-mile loop in the woods. While the trail is mostly well-marked, I did manage to wander off the path following some faded blazes on trees, so be mindful. The Cape Elizabeth Land Trust maintains the trail, and recommends parking in front of the trailhead.

Directions:  Follow Mitchell Road to Hobstone Road, which is marked by a big sign for the Hobstone development. It’s your first left if you’re coming in from Route 77.

Robinson Woods and Stonegate Trail, Cape Elizabeth

I am combining these two protected areas into one map because their trails link up, creating the possibility of a walk of several miles, mostly in the woods. I’m not going to add “quiet” walk to my description, because the Robinson Woods trail network — at least on the day I visited — was filled, that’s relatively speaking of course, with runners, kids on bikes, dog walkers and one mushroomer who wasn’t having any luck. Robinson Woods includes some open fields and lily-padded ponds (but don’t let your dogs swim here). The Cape Elizabeth Land Trust has some good online maps showing the lengths you can walk in town. 

In Stonegate, the trails are mostly well-marked but do be mindful you don’t wander off the main trail onto neighbors’ properties. As you’re ambling along, you do see quite a few large homes through the trees and leaves.

Directions: You can access this trail system at a number of different spots. The best place to park is in the parking lot on Shore Road. If you’re coming from the south, it’s on the left, after Olde Colony Lane and across the street from Lawson Road. If you’re coming from the north, the lot is about a half mile down the road from Fort Williams park on your right.



Winnick Woods, Cross Hill, Dyer-Hutchinson Farm trails, Cape Elizabeth

This large protected tract covers at least 200 acres and three preserves (Dyer-Hutchinson Farm trail, Cross Hill and Winnick Woods). There is a large network of trails here, allowing you to explore fields, forests, wetlands and streams. They also bring you around some housing developments with very large homes. There are lots of trailheads along the lanes of these developments where you can dip into the woods (but not park if so signed). The trail system is popular with dog walkers and fat bikers. While much of the walking is easy, with a few boardwalks, there are a few places where the paths go up and down small but steep hills.

Directions: There are two main parking areas: the main one off Sawyer Road, about 800 feet from the intersection with Fickett Street, with room for 10 or so cars, and a secondary one off Eastman Road. The Eastman Road lot is a bit smaller, probably large enough for four or five cars.


Gull Crest, Willow Brook, Runaway Farm, and Town Center Trails, Cape Elizabeth

Gull Crest trails in blue, Town Center and Willow Brook trails in orange, Runaway Farm trails in yellow

This lovely, large area of protected land has lots of little spurs and add-ons to its approximately seven miles of trails. You can do a long meandering walk here. I thought the most beautiful parts of the preserve are the fields on the south-western side. In addition, the Gull Crest trails connect via a pretty boardwalk and marsh bridge to the Town Center trails and to the high school (my alma mater!), where you can park by the tennis courts and football field (when school is not in session). There is a dedicated, and groomed, Nordic ski trail on the Gull Crest property, thanks to Cape Nordic.

The Greenbelt trail cuts through Gull Crest, and much of it has a boardwalk, making for a nice, pleasant, and dry walk.

The grassy and flat Town Center trail, connecting the high school to Spurwink Avenues, is unmarked but relatively easy to find. From the tennis courts, walk down the hill toward the marsh. The trail is located behind the row of houses on Longfellow Drive. Continue straight here until you come to the wooden bridge across the marsh that takes you to Gull Crest. If you continue straight, you’ll see land trust signs for the small (somewhat overgrown) loop on what I believe is the Willow Brook Preserve. 

On the southwest end of Gull Crest, you can walk on the cool and shady route to Runaway Farm. (These paths were unmarked when I visited in the spring of 2020 but easy to follow.)

Directions: There are several places to park here. The Cape Elizabeth Land Trust says the primary trailhead is located just outside the gates to the transfer station on Spurwink Avenues, with additional access points near the community garden and public works depot on Cooper Drive.


Spurwink Trail, Cape Elizabeth

This is a wonderful spot for birding, as the trail borders the Spurwink Marsh and circles a beautiful meadow. And once you know where you can enter the 150-acre preserve, it is easy to find. There was no trail kiosk when I visited, but there were several access points. The easiest one to spot is across the street from the water treatment plant. This facility is set back from the road, so don’t miss it! The other option is to park at the Gull Crest fields parking lot and walk a bit down the road to the trailhead across the street. Also, when I was there the trail did not continue to Spurwink Church as the map seems to indicate, or if it does, I couldn’t find it.

Directions: According to the Cape Elizabeth Land Trust, parking for the Spurwink Trail is directly across from the water treatment plant on Spurwink Avenue or at the pump station also on the west side of Spurwink Ave., or at the top of the hill next to the Gull Crest Fields entrance.


Great Pond Trail, Cape Elizabeth

This trail, a there-and-back 1.25-miler, is popular and well-maintained, with a lovely boardwalk. Some people keep their canoes at the town canoe rack. Great Pond is the largest freshwater pond in Cape Elizabeth. The trail deposits you right near Kettle Cove Dairy, too, so you can get a snack at the end!

Directions: The Cape Elizabeth Land Trust says there are just three parking spots for walkers at Kettle Cove Dairy on Route 77, so I recommend parking at the end of Fenway Road, where it seems most people park.