This is a guest post written by Enock Glidden, MTF Accessibility Ambassador, Public Speaker, Adaptive Athlete, and Adventurer. To learn more about Enock, please visit his website.
It’s that time of year when we start getting ready for snow and all the activities it brings. I needed a new jacket for the upcoming season of downhill and cross country skiing. We headed off to Portland for the day in search of the perfect fitting jacket. I can’t go anywhere without searching for trails. In this case, I didn't have to search because I had already done the Back Cove Trail with Maine Adaptive Sports and Recreation. It had been probably 5 years since I had checked out the trail. The last time I did it was on a handcycle and just for fun.
I figured it was time for a refresher and to look at it from the perspective of accessibility.
First off this trail is extremely easy to find and and access. There is a huge parking lot with plenty of accessible spaces. Although the day I did it there was a food truck taking up 3 of the accessible spaces. I won’t rant too much about that but there were definitely other places they could have parked.
The access from the parking area is really easy too. There is a concrete ramp that leads across some grass to the trail. The grass may pose a problem for some people since it is uneven but it was a mostly solid surface.
If you turn to the left you will find a sign that says start here. If you look on the other side of the sign it says 3 ½ miles. So the trail is 3 and a half miles long. Good to know before starting.
I feel like this might be one of my least epic blogs so far. That isn't necessarily a bad thing though. This trail is so perfectly accessible it is hard to fault it for anything. The trail is mostly flat, smooth, hard-packed dirt. It really does look like the picture below for most of the 3.5 miles.
There are a couple of sections that are challenging. One is when you have to cross the bridge that runs directly next to I-295. The hill leading up to the bridge is not steep but has been washed out over time by rain. It is very soft in places, which makes pushing difficult. I had to zig zag across the trail to find the harder surfaces and avoid the washouts. Before the bridge there is also a short section that gets narrower with a wooden railing along the cove side edge. It isn’t super narrow but it is definitely less wide than the rest of the trail. There is also some construction on the Baxter Boulevard section that has changed the trail slightly. They have done an amazing job keeping the surface about the same as before. It is a bit more rough for a few feet but still totally manageable.
When you get to the top of the hill at the beginning of the bridge, there is a turn to the left. Do not take the turn. It leads to the Bayside Trail. This trail will take you to the Eastern Promenade in the opposite direction of your car. I have to confess I got a little confused and took the turn. I didn't get very far before I realized it was not going to get us back to where we started. We did find a perfect place to sit and take in the view though.
After that little hiccup, it was smooth sailing back to the finish. The view is stunning throughout the entire journey as long as you focus on the cove. It never really feels like you are out of the city but I could see it feeling more secluded when the leaves are on the trees. We had the opportunity to see a lot of water, wildlife, and habitat.
This trail is also heavily used. Keep that in mind as you may need to move out of the way of bicycles and other traffic.
I am obviously rating this one a Just Do it! There is nothing inaccessible about this trail other than the transition to the bridge. If you have the opportunity you could also join Maine Adaptive Sports and Recreation next summer and experience the trail on one of their adaptive cycles.
JUST DO IT!:
Most people will be capable of navigating this trail with very little assistance.
If you have a different type of mobility issue or a different disability and you visit this trail or others, please comment on this post and give us your feedback. If you would like to visit a trail with Enock feel free to reach out. He would love to have people join him in the outdoor spaces of Maine. The more knowledge we gather and share, the more people we can get outside using the trails of Maine!
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