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Canco Woods, Portland

Updated: Feb 19



Since returning to full-time teaching this fall, my hiking time has been reduced to shorter, local trails. It's a trade-off I'm happy to make since working with kids offers a different kind of fun and fulfillment. It's also no real sacrifice, considering the long list of spectacular trails we have in Southern Maine (if you haven't seen my list, click here).


Still, I'm all for the four-day work week and if anyone wants to institute that, I give my full support. In the meantime, I'll save up those larger hikes for school holidays and summers. Studies show that one way to enjoy life more, is to embrace anticipation. According to this New York Times article, having things to look forward to boosts your mood and lowers stress. They say that imagining fun things ahead can be almost as good as experiencing them. So I'll continue planning for mountains and while I do, will enjoy my daily nature fix on our lovely local trails.


Canco Woods is a small and mighty favorite of mine since it's close to my house and often pretty quiet. It includes a 1.2 mile loop through scenic woods, crossing over several small footbridges and streams. This green space is tucked inside a densely developed Portland neighborhood...you would really never know it was here.


The land is owned by the City of Portland, but the trails were built through partnerships between neighbors, area businesses, Friends of Canco Woods, the Trust for Public Land and Portland Trails. In 2019, the AARP gave Portland Trails a grant to upgrade the footpaths in Canco Woods that are adjacent to senior housing. It is now possible for people using wheelchairs, strollers, bicycles and walkers to enjoy looping through these peaceful woods. Dogs are allowed here, but must be on a leash.


(My mom and Romy enjoying a break at Canco Woods. She didn't need one, but my lazy dog did.)


I usually park at the trailhead off of Canco Rd to access these woods, but there are also trailheads at the end of Frye, Rosedale and Torrey Streets. Here is the All Trails link, which includes maps and directions to the Canco Rd trailhead. Your All Trails GPS will also come in handy here. My husband actually got lost walking our dog in the woods behind Evergreen Cemetery this past weekend. Luckily, we'd swapped phones and he was pleasantly surprised to learn that my All Trails app (the one I talk about constantly) actually helped direct him back to the right trailhead. When the inner compass fails, use All Trails.


These trails are especially scenic in the fall, as shown in this picture of Henry running through these woods a few years back. Below that is a picture taken last week in a section of narrow trail surrounded by lush forest. It explains why Henry calls Canco the "cozy woods".



Canco Woods is a nice, easy loop for younger kids. Especially when they're given a challenge of finding a Seek'em. And I did hide one for you here. To locate it, Go clockwise or counter-clockwise after starting out - you pick. Both directions will eventually join to form the stick of this lollipop loop, leading to a larger bridge and stream marking the end of the trail.



We came to this trail last Sunday because Henry wanted to start panning for gold and I needed to walk the dog. I knew this trail had a stream at the end and my little gold digger was eager to use his new panning kit in any body of running water we could find. Whatever gets my kids to the woods...


We did not find gold in Canco Woods, but I did tell Henry I'd take him back to Coos Canyon to pan for real gold. If you want the scoop on this beautiful spot in Oxford County, read this. Henry's at the age where he thinks being rich solves all of your problems. I'm at the age where I know better. True richness is having a daily life we enjoy and things to look forward to. That's real abundance. That's solid gold.



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