Paddle ‘Round Portland: Back Cove to East End Beach
You don’t need to go way up north to have a canoe or kayak adventure. There’s plenty of spots right around town where you can get out on the water before or after work. Remember: every place outside your house is the great outdoors. Enjoy it.
PRP: From Portland’s Back Cove (not Back Bay) under Tukey’s Bridge to the East End Beach at dawn on the outgoing tide.
Get in: I parked at the Baxter Boulevard parking lot across from Hannaford Supermarket on Preble Street. The Tide was high, and it wasn’t hard to get my canoe in the water right there.
Paddle: I launched just before dawn, just after high tide. I paddled fairly directly to Tukey’s Bridge and out into the harbor where I met Darren in his kayak. We chatted and drank coffee and meandered to the hand boat launch near the East End Beach. My total paddle time was 1.5 hours. The distance was about 2.75 miles.
Get out: The gravelly beach near the kayak and dinghy racks was east to pull up on as the tide ebbed.
This time, my paddle ’round Portland started before dawn — and I never left town.
I parked my truck across from Hannaford Supermarket on Preble Street at 5:30 a.m. It was still dark. The only other things moving about were hardcore runners on the Back Cove trail and mosquitoes buzzing around my noggin. I shouldered my canoe and set it down in Back Cove after picking my way down the rip-rap. The tide was just gone high, and I didn’t have to get into the mud. That was nice.
I shoved off and stepped into my red Old Town canoe in one motion. The plan was to ride the tide from Back Cove, out under Tukey’s Bridge — where I’d meet my buddy Darren — and continue on to the East End.
I sipped coffee and visited the flag you can see from the highway as the traffic in the distance started to pick up. The sky went from purple to orange as cormorants dove under me and gulls flapped overhead.
The sunrise proper appeared as I slipped under the bridge. The outgoing tide gave a more serious tug under there where the opening to the cove is most narrow. But it wasn’t too intense. I passed the bean factory on my left and caught a whiff of the sewage treatment plant on my right at the same time. Not sure that was a coincidence. Next, I paddled by derelict swinging railroad bridge. I’d never been so close to it before.
Then I spotted Darren. He pulled up with more coffee. We rafted and chatted while the tide moved us closer to the East End. We landed on the gravel beach by the kayak racks with no troubles. The sun was staring to get hot. We stowed our gear and were scarfing some very fine Cumberland Avenue bagels in no time.
I could get used to this kind of morning.