By Aislinn Sarnacki
Photos by Tara Rice
From our April 2023 Animals issue
Leave Only Paw Prints: Parks and Preserves
With no backcountry to speak of, Acadia is one of the country’s few dog-friendly national parks: all the carriage roads, most trails, and all the campgrounds (except on Isle au Haut) welcome leashed dogs. Read park rules to know what little is off-limits — or complete the (ahem) Bark Ranger Program, after which rangers will swear in your pupper (and you can buy a commemorative collar tag). On Bar Harbor’s Main Street, Bark Harbor has a huge selection of fancy house-made treats. 207-288-3338.
Fore River Sanctuary, Portland
Dog owners love this 85-acre preserve, where dogs under voice command are allowed off leash. Find 2½ miles of wooded trails, as well as the city’s only natural waterfall — a great spot for dogs to play in the water. Entrances on Rowe Ave., Hillcrest Ave., and Starbird Ln. 207-775-2411.
Forest Legacy Conservation Area, Adamstown Township
Another spot with off-leash privileges for dogs under voice command, this one for wilderness-loving woofers. This unspoiled Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust property has 8½ miles of trail and 3 miles of shoreline on Cupsuptic and Mooselookmeguntic lakes, with four hike-in waterfront campsites.Trailhead on Mud Pond Rd., off Rte. 16. 207-864-7311.
Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument
Dogs are verboten in Baxter State Park, so while you can’t take your four-legged hiking buddy up Katahdin, you can get a great view of it from Barnard Mountain, in the neighboring national monument. With plenty of trails, streams, and grown-over woods roads to explore, KW&W is a great north-woods alternative to Baxter (and, fair warning, has similarly minimal services). 207-456-6001.
Penny’s Nature Preserve, Blue Hill
Named after a beloved Lab, this nearly three-mile trail network — through mossy forest, past old granite quarries and a marshy meadow — was donated to the Blue Hill Heritage Trust under the condition that it remain a place where dogs can cavort off leash. It’s worth bringing a leash, though, to cross into the neighboring Peter’s Brook Preserve, where there’s a nice little waterfall. Trailhead on Rte. 176 (park at A.B. Herrick Memorial Landing). 207-374-5118.
Fests with Fido: Events and Outings
Bark in the Park, Portland, April–September
Dogs and their people get special seating at Hadlock Field to watch the Portland Sea Dogs minor-league baseball team — and each game begins with dogs taking the field for a parade around the warning track. April 21, May 24, June 21, July 19, August 23, September 13. 271 Park Ave. 207-874-9300.
Doggy and Me Tour Kennebunkport, May–October
Maine Day Ventures’ ¾-mile walking tour stops at Dock Square and Lower Village businesses catering to canines and their owners (think ice-cream stands, the venerable Digs, Divots & Dogs gift shop, the toy-filled Scalawags pet boutique). Many treats provided for both species. 207-233-7485.
Woofstock, Kennebunk, July 29
Live bands, a craft-beer garden, food trucks, and games for the humans; agility and obstacle courses, costume contests, and pet-friendly photo booths. Hosted by the Animal Welfare Society. 46 Holland Rd. 207-985-3244.
Dog Days, Freeport, August 19–20
L.L.Bean’s weekend of free events includes a 5K walk and run, presentations by pet experts, canine contests (e.g., best trick, fastest ice-cream eater), and jumping and retrieval shows by the high-flying DockDogs. L.L.Bean Discovery Park, 18 Morse St. 877-755-2326.
Maine Wienerfest, Belfast, September 10
A dachshund parade, a dachshund race, a dachshund costume contest, and more. Other breeds and mixes are welcome at this celebration of the noble wiener dog. Steamboat Landing Park, 34 Commercial St.
Off-Leash Oases: Favorite Dog Parks
Belfast Dog Park, Belfast
Cushioned benches under shelters, trees for shade, a station for dispensing and disposing of poop bags, and running water to fill up doggie bowls (during the warmer months). In the summer, the city even supplies kiddie pools for dogs to cool off in. 122 Lincolnville Ave. 207-338-3370.
Sincock Street Dog Park, Caribou
The only dog park north of Bangor is worth a detour, with separate areas for big and little pooches and earthworks and other obstacles for running over, around, and through. Also benches, hydrants for water, and a 1½-mile trail (leashed) to Collins Pond Park, a lovely picnic spot with a playground. 628 Main St. 207-493-4224.
South End Park, Bath
The too-rare waterfront dog park! This 11-acre off-leash area is fenced in on three sides and open on the other to the Kennebec River (just keep your pawed partners off the bocce court). A ⅓-mile path makes a loop, and benches on a pier overlook the river and the cranes of Bath Iron Works. 347 Washington St.
Sit and Stay: Pet-Friendly Lodging
Inn by the Sea, Cape Elizabeth
This luxe beach resort has been pampering humans since the ’80s, and doggos get in on the opulence with their own blankets and beach towels, signature turndown treats, and a gourmet pet room-service menu (ask for it on reservation). For a week before the inn closes, in mid-October, dogs can even hit the pool. 40 Bowery Beach Rd. 207-799-3134.
Lockwood Hotel, Waterville
The pet package at downtown’s brand-new hotel includes a souvenir plushie, lobster-shaped treats, a handy travel bowl, and discounts at the Loyal Biscuit Co. pet store, across the street, for anything you forgot. A map of dog-friendly hikes, shopping, and restaurant patios is a nice touch. 9 Main St. 207-660-0120.
Lord Camden Inn, Grand Harbor Inn, and 16 Bay View Camden
These sister inns, all in the heart of Camden, provide fleece dog beds, complimentary biscuits and bowls, and a helpful directory of dog-friendly outings and daycare options around the midcoast. Each is a short stroll from the Maine Dog, on Bay View, where you’ll find cute nautically tinged dog gear. Lord Camden Inn, 24 Main St. 207-236-4325. Grand Harbor Inn, 14 Bay View Landing. 207-230-7177. 16 Bay View, 16 Bay View Landing. 207-706-7990.
Paws Inn, Bethel
An 1860s farmhouse in the mountains of western Maine, this year-round B&B has homemade treats, doggy beds and crates, doggy life vests for the nearby ponds, and petsitting when you want to head out without your hound. Plenty of nearby trails, plus a fenced-in run in the inn’s two-acre backyard. 372 Walkers Mill Rd. 207-824-6678.
Wolf Cove Inn, Poland
Dogs are welcome in three rooms and a cabin at this bucolic lakeside B&B (and in the courtesy canoes and kayaks). Breakfast on the deck is dog-friendly, and the inn has supplies like pet blankets, water bowls, and poop bags. 5 Jordan Shore Dr. 207-998-4976.
Puppy Chow: Dining Out
The Bait Shed, Scarborough
Not only are dogs welcome on the pier seating, overlooking lobsterboats in the Nonesuch River, they also can order off their own doggie menu, and the chow comes on a keepsake frisbee you can toss at nearby Pine Point Beach (alas, no dogs on the beach between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.). 9 Avenue 6. 207-888-1069.
Boothbay Craft Brewery, Boothbay
Pints of crisp Route 27 Lager for you, dog biscuits made from the brewery’s spent grain for your pup. Dogs are welcome in the beer garden (ask for water bowls). Coming soon: house-made doggy ice cream. 301 Adams Pond Rd. 207-633-3411.
The Family Dog, Orono
The dog-themed, pub-food menu is vast (so’s the list of build-your-own burger toppings), and you’ll usually find dogs with their humans on the lawn and patio during the warmer months. Only service dogs inside, but head in to admire local artist Kate Boyington’s doggy watercolors. 6 Mill St. 207-866-2808.
Loyal Biscuit Co., Multiple Locations
Want to picnic? This Maine pet chain’s six locations offer a “shore dinner” package that includes a lobster cookie, freeze-dried (shelled) mussels, a stuffie toy shaped like an ear of corn, and a sweet-potato chew. Bath, Belfast, Brewer, Rockland, Rockport, and Waterville.
Lunch on the Wharf, Corea
Dog-friendly deck dining by the ocean harbor, fine fresh seafood, and if you’re lucky, they’ll put a Corea bandana on your furry friend and snap a photo for the online doggy gallery. 13 Gibbs Ln. 207-963-9077.
Beach Bois: Dogs on the Shore
Plenty of Maine beaches welcome dogs in some capacity — below are just a few faves. Dog rules vary from beach to beach, weekday to weekend, and season to season. Always check the web for details before heading out.
Fort Foster Park, Kittery
Multiple sand-and-pebble beaches, plus some lovely trails and big stretches of grass near the old battery. Steer clear of mostly off-limits Pier South Beach, and use a leash after 10 a.m. in the summer (let them run free in the morning). 76 Pocahontas Rd. 207-439-0333.
Sandy Point Beach Park, Stockton Springs
Dogs are often found rolling in the sand, among remnants of old wharves, at this state-owned park at the mouth of the Penobscot. In addition to a half-mile beach, the 100-acre park has just under two miles of trails through woods and marsh. Look on the beach for the timbers once used to launch ships. Steamboat Wharf Rd. 207-567-3404.
Sears Island, Searsport
Accessible by causeway, this undeveloped island has some five miles of walkable shoreline open to dogs every day, year-round. Great dog walking on six miles of trails, plus a gravel and paved road (that’s also open to walkers and cyclists). Sears Island Rd. 855-430-2882.
Schoodic Beach, T9 SD (near Sullivan)
On quiet and scenic Donnell Pond, this none-too-busy sandy beach is reached by a half-mile trail (or by boat). Dogs are allowed off-leash on the beach and the terrific nearby hiking trails if they’re under voice command (but must be leashed at campsites). Schoodic Beach Rd. 207-941-4412.