Fore River Sanctuary



South Entrance: Follow Portland’s Congress Street to the Maine Orthopedics building at 1601 Congress Street, at the corner of Frost Street. Trail parking is available at the far corner of the parking lot, at Congress and Frost.  

North Entrance: Take Brighton Avenue to Rowe Avenue or Hillcrest Avenue and park at the end of the street.  

East Entrance: An additional entrance is available from the east off Starbird Lane, but there is no parking available.

METRO Bus Routes 4 (north entrances) and 5 (south entrance).


This nature sanctuary is the home of Jewell Falls, Portland’s only natural waterfall. From the South entrance, the trail follows the former canal towpath at a flat grade for over a half-mile before turning north to cross wetland areas. As the trail heads uphill there is a loop trail which, at its highest point, leads to Jewell Falls. The Falls were donated to Portland Trails by the family of Tom Jewell, one of Portland Trails’ founders.  

The Fore River Sanctuary is also the site of the former Cumberland and Oxford Canal, you can walk along the remains of the towpath and see the repair basin--a man-made pond dug for the canal. The Sanctuary provides important habitat for wildlife in Portland. The lowland area, where the saltwater and freshwater marshes meet, provides great bird-watching opportunities. Red oak and white pine are home to many songbirds and small mammals in the upland area. 

The sanctuary abuts a heavily-wooded 22 acre parcel owned by Energy East Foundation, which has given Portland Trails permission to provide public trail access. New trails there connect to west to Westbrook Street.

Other Information

A short walk down Congress Street sidewalks leads to the Fore River Trail and Stroudwater Trail.

Maine Audubon created the Fore River Sanctuary in 1971. For many years, dogs were not allowed here.  Portland Trails is letting responsible dog owners demonstrate that they can visit this special place with their pet without doing harm to this important habitat.

Trail Manager

Fore more information and to get a trail map visit Portland Trails online or contact

Portland Trails
305 Commercial Street
Portland, ME 04101
Phone: (207) 775-2411

Comments (1) Add Comment

avatar tucoJuly 25, 2011, 7:49 am EST

I'm fortunate enough to live within walking distance of two of the trail heads so I've explored this trail system quite a bit. The is a nice diversity of habitats here. One could spend a good couple of hours exploring the different trails. I was pleasantly surprised to have discovered the new Westbrook trail head last fall.

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Steel Bridge
Steel Bridge
Photo courtesy:Portland Trails

This 85-acre preserve is the home of Jewell Falls, Portland’s only natural waterfall, and the site of the former Cumberland and Oxford Canal. The trail network ranges from the flat former canal towpath to hillier sections leading to the Falls.

Quick Facts

  • Hiking / Walking
  • Snowshoeing
Length2.0 miles, Network
SurfaceDirt/Forest Floor, Packed Snow, Boardwalk
Other ActivitiesNone

Current Weather

April 19, 2014
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From the NW at 15 MPH Gusting to 26 MPH
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Nearby Geocaches

Check for nearby geocaches to Fore River Sanctuary.

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