Little John Island Preserve
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If you’re looking for a quick getaway from the regular monotonous life near Portland, Littlejohn Island Preserve might be just what you’re looking for. This quiet little spot is almost always completely devoid of other people, and is one of my favorite spots to watch the sunset over Casco Bay.
These highly maintained trails, owned and managed by the Royal River Conservation Trust, are kept clean from debris all year long and has primarily wide flat trails, perfect for someone with little ones in tow or someone looking for a good trail run. The only time the preserve isn’t fully accessible is during some particularly bad mud seasons in March and April, due to dirt road and parking lot conditions. There is also limited parking – space for only 4 cars – which is both a blessing and a curse. It does mean sometimes you won’t be able to visit the preserve, but personally I’ve never had an issue and am the only vehicle there the multiple times I’ve visited. The preserve is free and open to the public during daylight hours and is conveniently close to Portland, so even if you have to try multiple times, it’s definitely someplace that’s worth the effort.
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The main loop trail is 1.3 miles, and leads you under towering oaks lining the ocean, past beautiful stoney beaches and small tide pools filled with critters, and if you’re lucky you might even see some Bald Eagles and Great Horned Owls which are often found nesting here. For an extra bit of adventure, try visiting one of the many boat ramps off of Casco Bay and paddle to the preserve (just keep in mind that the docks surrounding the preserve and private, and Littlejohn Island Preserve only offers natural landing spots).
As the preserve feels so secluded, my favorite things to do here are climb up one of the oaks overlooking the ocean and curl up with a book, lounge on the rocky private beaches, and hunt for mysterious critters in the tide pool. Whether you’re looking for some alone time or something to do with the whole family, Littlejohn Island Preserve is a perfect quick stop close to home.