Back Cove Trail

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The Back Cove Trail is a 3.5 mile loop around Back Cove in Portland. It is a popular destination because of its location and the views of the Portland skyline.

Written by

Erik Johnson


3.5 miles

There are mileage markers around the trail making it easy to track how far you have gone.

Destination Distance From Downtown

0.2 miles


1 of 5 diamonds

It is almost impossible to get lost on this trail. It is flat and simply loops around Back Cove. The only thing to remember is to go over the bridge next to 295. Going under will take you elsewhere.

Time To Complete

0 hours

The 3.5 mile trail is easy to navigate and should not take more than 30-40 minutes for seasoned runners.


All Seasons

The warmer months of the year are the best for Back Cove, but if you are not afraid of a Maine winter, the trail will be there for you.

Dog Friendly

On Leash Only

Fees Permits




Sometimes you don’t have time to fully escape the city. Luckily, Portland provides easily accessible trails that allow city residents to conveniently escape the sidewalks and the roads while also providing a scenic look at the city. The Back Cove Trail is a great trail for runners looking to log some easy miles close to home.

The Back Cove Trail is a 3.5 mile trail around, you guessed it, Back Cove. A parking lot is provided off of Preble Street, but the trail can be accessed from almost anywhere along the loop making it an unnecessary drive for those who live close enough. 

Apart from a slight rise when paralleling Route 295, the 3.5 mile trail is flat. The majority of the surface is rock dust combined with interspersed segments of concrete in parts. Overall, the trail will provide a softer running surface than the surrounding streets and sidewalks. Distance markers are provided along the loop as well, with the start and end of the distances at the Preble Street parking lot.

What Makes It Great

The Back Cove Trail is close to home, making it a quick commute for anyone within the city. It provides a place to escape the cars on the road and the tourists walking through the city. While the trail itself is fairly popular, it is easy to navigate with far fewer people than busy city sidewalks. 

In addition to avoiding busy city streets and sidewalks, the Back Cove Trail is also filled with nice views. High tide presents a filled cove with the possibility of glimpsing some sea creatures, while low tide allows local fisherman to wade into the mud as they search for clams, a constant reminder of this area’s history.

Who is Going to Love It

Any runner will enjoy the Back Cove Trail. Although it may not be a true “trail running” destination most would expect, this loop is a wonderful opportunity for all runners alike. Casual runners will enjoy the easily navigated terrain and set distance for a reliable daily routine. Dogs are also allowed if you don’t want to go without your faithful training partner.

Serious runners can take advantage of reliable distance markers for an accurate pace calculation or set intervals or just soak in the surroundings on a recovery day. If anyone is looking for a longer run, there is a trail that turns off the Back Cove Trail that can be followed through the Old Port all the way to Fisherman’s Point in South Portland.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

There are two primary parking lots for the Back Cove Trail. One, as mentioned above, is located on the South side of the trail off Preble Street, and the other is to the North along Baxter Blvd at Payson Park.

Be aware that the trail is often used for cycling and that strollers and dogs are allowed on the trail as well. There are two seasonal water fountains along the loop as well as benches and a restroom. There is also a small fitness trail located by the Preble Street parking lot with different cross-training stations.

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Back Cove Trail

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