Inn by the Sea is surrounded by shoreline and rural gorgeousness! No matter the season, scenic trails, unspoiled sand beaches, ocean cliff paths and quintessential Maine walks are plentiful and easily accessed in coastal Cape Elizabeth, just 7 miles south of Portland’s small, vibrant port city. Here are our top picks for getting out into nature in any weather in ‘runners’, Wellies or snow shoes-all easy walks even the family pet will love!
1- Crescent Beach: A picturesque, mile long Crescent shaped sand beach that is ideal for winter walks or summer sun bathing. Atlantic views of Richmond Island and lobster boats bobbing on the horizon, sea grass sand dunes, gulls and sea birds, saltwater coves and rocky outcrops make this a dazzling walk in all seasons. Light surf allows great swimming in summer, and wooded walking trails that wind through the park are just feet from the water. Park trails are open to hiking, snow showing, or cross country skiing in the off season. A private boardwalk for guests leads from Inn by the Sea to the beach. (Dogs allowed on the beach October to April, but not in summer nesting season)
2- Great Pond: If you love watchable wildlife, this is your trail. Great Pond is a natural 125 acre freshwater pond, accessible only by trails abundant with wildlife and wildflowers. The trail loop begins and ends just 2/10th of a mile from the Inn, across Route 77 from Kettle Cove Dairy- (a ‘must’ stop for ice cream after a summer walk!) A wide woodland trail weaves under a canopy of boughs to an open field, to an overlook for Great Pond and wetland marsh. Turning right through the woods brings you to an elevated boardwalk that circles part of the pond, offering stunning water views, then meanders past a beaver dam. Derrick Daly, the Inn’s head gardener leads morning walks for guests and their dogs in summer. Wildlife sightings include Alewives fish swimming in rivulets, ducks, wading birds, and deer.
3- Cliff Walk at Fort Williams: An easy half mile coastal cliff walk on a crushed stone path with stunning views of Casco Bay Islands and Ram Island Ledge Light. Starting at the rocky beach near the entrance, the trail winds through the remains of Fort Williams battery and past historic Portland Headlight. Commissioned by George Washington, this iconic lighthouse is the oldest in Maine, and its unique architecture made it a favored subject for renowned artist Edward Hopper. In winter snow shoeing, cross country skiing and sledding are popular. Leashed dogs are welcome. The Cliff Walk is about 10 minutes from the Inn.
4-Robinson Woods: A three mile, 145 acre trail network that ranges from woods to fields, flat to hilly, wetlands to mature forest with vernal ponds providing habitat for resident and migratory wildlife. Massive, centuries old red oak, hemlock or white pine trees- some over 300 years old- make up the forest canopy while vernal pools with fern groves flourish on the forest floor. The network opens to 12 acres of field and ponds. Parking is available on Shore Road, and is about 5 minutes from the Inn. Dogs are allowed off leash before 10 and after 4, but hours change seasonally.