Mountain Division Trail - Worth the Trip! | Blogs
*This is the second in a series of blogs highlighting cool places to romp with your dog.
Are you willing to drive about 20 minutes from Portland to take your dog for a cooling swim on a hot summer afternoon? Heck, you could probably hop in with him or her and cool off yourself! Take River Road from Westbrook to Windham. Cross 202 at the light and then look for Gambo Road on your left. Take Gambo Road and look for signs marking the trail head and parking area for the Mountain Division Trail. Adventure awaits!
The Mountain Division Trail is an amazing network of trails that eventually will connect Portland to Fryeburg via 52 miles of superbly-maintained paths, most of which are tarred and meander alongside defunct railroad tracks. Ample parking, portable toilets and a kiosk with trail maps greets you at the trailhead in Windham, on mile 12 of the trail system. We chose to walk with our dogs on our visit, but if you're a biker, consider taking a long ride down the miles of trail heading from Windham to Gorham to Standish and beyond.
Our Labs are great off-leash but we carried our leashes and hooked them up when we got to areas of the trail adjacent to ball fields and their parking areas for safety's sake. There is also a converted railroad bridge over the Presumpscot River about a quarter mile up the trail where leashes make the crossing more safe for dogs. One side of the bridge has a high fence and wooden footpath; however, the opposite side is completely open to the water (30-ish feet below) and has gaps between the wooden slats where the rails used to pass. We encountered several teens on bikes who fearlessly tossed their bikes aside and jumped to the water below (see photos). Our Labs made a quick crossing and then scurried down the bank to join the boys in the water below for a refreshing swim in the river.
If your dogs like to swim but you prefer a safer entry for them, fear not. Just past the bridge, a tarred path veers to the left. Take that trail to Shaw Park about 200 yards away where you'll find a lovely sandy shoreline that makes swimming a breeze. Our dogs swam there as well! The water doesn't move swiftly and the swimming is good. We passed a couple of ball fields on our way to the water's edge and enjoyed watching the Little Leaguers preparing for their contests in this well-maintained athletic and leisure sports complex beside the banks of the river.
The walking is easy and the trails are mostly wide tarred paths. Athletic shoes or even Keen or Teva sandals are fine footwear for this outing. You will encounter lots of joggers and walkers, with and without dogs, and leisure bikers as well. We and our Labs enjoyed this peaceful, easy walk so much that it will be a regular destination for us...with and without bikes. Totally worth the drive!
Click the link for trail maps and more info: http://www.mountaindivisiontrail.org/