Peak's Island is one of my favorite local summer adventures. It includes a boat ride, a 3.9 mile loop with stellar views, historic forts to explore, and just enough food/coffee/ice cream stops to keep the crew happy. The perimeter road is paved and mostly flat, with benches along the way. This is a dog-friendly island and these trails are maintained by the Peaks Island Preserve.
Served by the Casco Bay Lines, the 20 minute ferry ride from downtown Portland to Peak's is a journey in itself, with views of Fort Gorgeous and some of the other islands. For a ferry schedule, visit https://www.cascobaylines.com/schedules/peaks-island-schedule/
Peaks is the most populous island in Casco Bay and you can even bring a car over on the car ferry. Popular for biking, kayaking, and swimming, Peaks also offers a few restaurants, cafes and a small grocery store. Bicycles can be rented at Brad's Bike Shop. If you'd rather rent a golf cart, there are two places on the island for that: Peak's Island Golf Carts and Mike's Carts. I've never rented golf carts here, so can't recommend one over the other, but how complicated can golf carts be? I'm sure they're both good.
Once known as the Coney Island of Maine, Peaks was later a WWII outpost. While here, explore Battery Steele, an old gun battery with long, dark tunnels to walk through. Make sure to bring flashlights, it is VERY dark. Also, don't forget to remove your sunglasses before venturing through the tunnel. I did this once and kept remarking to my husband, "I can't see a THING!" as I felt my way through the pitch dark. Once through the tunnel, he took one look at me and busted out laughing - I'd been wearing my sunglasses the whole time. And Tim likes to tell that story every time we visit Battery Steele.
We usually bring our bikes for the island loop, but last week, I walked it with my mom and her new hiking group, which she just started through her church. She's come up with a whole schedule of hikes, found in my trail guide, which they will explore each Friday. Altogether it was five of us, ranging in age from 18 months to 75 years! I'm happy to report that everyone finished the walk (one in a hiking pack) and a good time was had by all. We took the 8:15am ferry over to Peak's and the 11:45am back, which gave us just enough time to complete the loop and rest on a bench or two.
We did the loop clockwise. The road hugs the water most of the way, starting out on Island Ave. Once you've reached the Trefethen-Evergreen Improvement Association (look for tennis courts off to the right of a long driveway), take a right onto Trefethen Ave, which will cut across the island to the other side, landing you on Seashore Ave. It won't be long before you can spot Battery Steele, off to the right. Go explore and tuck those sunglasses right in your back pocket.
Once you've made it about 3/4 of the way around the loop, look for the Cairn Beach. You really can't miss it and wouldn't want to. It's a great spot for a view, a snack, or a sculpture project.
From Cairn Beach, stay on the road all the way back to the ferry. Grab yourself a well-earned ice cream at Down Front, if you've saved yourself any time. And if you miss the ferry back to Portland, they run almost every hour. You'll catch the next one. It's all part of the adventure.