Posted on March 22, 2020 and last updated on March 22, 2020

Fort Williams Park, Cape Elizabeth

QUICK TRAIL FACTS

  • Preserve Size: 90 acres
  • Trail Mileage: ~3 miles in network
  • Pets: yes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Sights: Portland Head Light, old military installations, park amenities, dramatic ocean views

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.

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