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Clarks Pond Trail Map & Description

Trail route

The 1.7 mile hike around Clarks Pond is moderately strenuous and will take most people about an hour. If you prefer to stay in the woods for your entire hike, it’s a 1.1 mile one-way trip to Westbrook Street. You can return via the same route. Whichever route you take, please be sure to wear supportive footwear. And please abide by the carry in, carry out credo, so that the trail remains a pleasant experience for those who visit after you.

Getting to the trail is easy. If you are arriving by car, use the western (or second) entrance into the Home Depot lot after you've turned off of Gorham Road. You'll see a kiosk and parking to the right of the building. This is the best place to park. As always, take your valuables with you, lock your car and don't forget your water!

While you can do the loop in either direction, the most popular route is the counterclockwise 1.1 mile woodland hike around the pond, followed by a 6/10 of a mile trip back to your car by way of sidewalks. Before you start your hike, you may want to read about the history of the Clarks Pond Trail Project.

Detailed description

To start your hike, head west (toward Clarks Pond Parkway) following the paved path for about 50 feet. The trail turns left into the woods and off the paved path. Look for a trail sign here.

After a short flat section, the trail drops down over a small tributary to Red Brook, then back up the other side. The steps here are the first evidence of the great work done by the AMC trail crew.

From the top of the far embankment, the trail bears right through the woods, then takes a sharp left onto a gravel surface. You'll soon junction with the Red Brook Trail on the right. This trail currently leads 1/4 mile along Red Brook. Plans are in the works to lengthen the trail, so that it will end in the Maine Mall area.

Continuing on the Clarks Pond Trail, the gravel path goes on top of a rip rap section built to contain water flow. At the far end of the gravel section, the trail turns hard left, away from the traffic and into a beautiful wooded section by way of an old logging road.  

After another left, the trail winds along the west end of the pond. Here it may be easy to imagine a more tranquil time in this area, when fishing and swimming were popular activities. In fact, most of the surrounding land was farmland until the 1940s, when there was a large influx of people to the area due to the building of Liberty Ships in the east end of South Portland. With two large shipyards operating there, housing was at a premium. The most affordable place to build was the area around Clarks Pond, which became urbanized literally overnight.

The Redbank and Brick Hill developments are two of the areas that were built up during that period. The turnpike, I-295 and the Maine Mall came in the decades to follow, putting enormous pressure on the four watersheds surrounding Clarks Pond. The City, the State of Maine and the Federal government are actively working on solutions to improve the watersheds. The hope is that someday people will be fishing in Clarks Pond again.

The trail now curves back away from the pond to cross the second of five brooks that feed the pond. This is a beautiful area punctuated by many ferns and a few tall pines.

Bearing left, the trail makes its way back toward the pond. Looking across the pond here, you can see Clarks Pond Point, a peninsula that jut out into the pond from the opposite shore. There's a trial on the peninsula. Perhaps you'll see some other hikers across the way!

Shortly after leaving the view of the pond, the trail goes down a series of steps, over some bog bridged and regains the ridge by way of more steps. Here you can really appreciate the work that went into laying out this great trail.

After a short jaunt high above the shore, you approach the southeastern corner of the pond, a place rich with local history.

From the 1930s until the 1950s, Portland Sebago Ice Company ran an ice harvesting operation here to supply ice boxes, the precursor to refrigerators, with blocks of ice year round.

The ice house featured a giant ramp that would carry blocks of ice from the pond up into the storage house high above the pond. Men would cut the blocks into 500 lb. blocks using a motorized saw, then send them up the conveyor belt to be stored in the facility. The company would harvest enough ice to keep many Portland and South Portland ice boxes cool all summer long. The ice house burned down in the mid-50s. The only signs left from the operation are a few cornerstones from the buildings.

The trail now bears away from the pond one last time and crosses the last bridge shortly before the trail emerges at Westbrook Street. To continue on your loop hike, bear left following the paved sidewalk. DO NOT cross the road. (The intersection here is extremely dangerous and not designed for pedestrians. The lane directly in front of you is a dedicated high speed lane that merges onto the highway.) If you must cross Westbrook Street, follow the paved sidewalk to the crosswalk near the gas station a short distance to your left.

To continue your loop, proceed on the sidewalk, bearing left at Gorham Road. Take a left onto the Home Depot Service Drive, then rejoin the sidewalk to your left, following the edge of the woods as you pass behind the building. As the trail takes a hard right, you'll see the ADA approved Clarks Point Trail leading a few hundred feet to a pair of scenic overlooks. You can continue past the overlooks on foot to reach the shore and another view of the pond.

Continuing on the sidewalk will bring you back to your vehicle.

If you liked the trail and would like to help make more trails available for hikers, walkers and cyclists, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the South Portland Land Trust. Thank you!