United States

Maine: Southern Coast

The Best Places to Run in Maine's Coastal Towns from Kittery to Portland

Maine’s southern coast, defined as the approximately 60-mile stretch between Kittery and Portland, offers a wealth of opportunities for running. The area boasts some of the best beaches for running in New England, gorgeous coastal roads, and pretty, historic towns. In this guide to running on Maine’s southern coast, we’ve focused on some of the more popular spots near the water. Some of our favorites:

Beach Runs. Ogunquit Beach, Wells Beach, and Old Orchard Beach are all long, wide, flat, and have firm compact sand that’s great for running.

Shore Roads. Hands down, Ocean Rd. in Kennebunkport is our favorite, with great views, historic sights, just the right light at a certain time a day, and perhaps a wave hello from the Bush compound.

Waterfront Trails. Marginal Way in Ogunquit is a treat for running when its not too crowded. And don’t miss the cliffside trail in York Harbor.

Best Run to a Lighthouse. Cape Neddick out to Nubble Light.

Park or Preserve. Beautiful running in the grasslands and marshes of the Wells Reserve. Hit it late in the day for great light.

Best ‘Loop’ Runs: Portsmouth, NH to Kittery, including Peirce Island, and our Kennebunk to Kennebunkport waterfront run.

Best Off-Road. Best off-road sections of the 65-mile Eastern Trail are Kennebunk to Biddeford,  Saco to Scarborough, and in South Portland.

Note we also have comprehensive guides to the New Hampshire Seacoast just to the south, Portland, and other coastal Maine spots.

Southern NH Coastal  Portland  Maine Mid-Coast  Mount Desert Island/Acadia National Park

Editor's Picks

Some of our favorite runs in Maine: Southern Coast

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The climate in this area is highly influenced by the coastal location but is still typical of New England, with cold winters and warm summers. June through September are generally delightful, with lots of sunny days and high temperatures in the mid-70s in summer. The ocean typically keeps things 5-10 degrees cooler in summer and 5-10 degrees warmer in winter. Nights, even in summer, can be cool-ish, so pack a layer. In winter, there are plenty of gloomy days, with highs hovering around freezing and nights dipping into the low teens. Surfaces can be snowy and icy. There can be storms and nor’easters in winter, though the southern Maine coast is not quite as exposed as the outer Cape and the Islands. In winter, the ocean can effect precipitation, resulting in ice and rain while it might be snowing a few miles inland. 

The popular spots listed in this running guide have a large selection of hotels in season, ranging from high-end inns and resorts to old-timey shore motels. Note that many of these close in the off-season (end of October to Memorial Day). You’ll likely have a car in these parts, but it’s always great to try to stay near one of our favorite routes!

There are two independent running stores in the 65-mile stretch between Portsmouth and Portland.

Runner’s Alley. Great store in Portsmouth. Group Runs: Thursday 6pm and Saturday 8am.

Fleet Feet Sports Maine Running. Wonderful store in downtown Portland. Run Club Tuesdays & Thursdays at 6pm, Saturdays at 9am.

Nike Factory Store. Among the several outlet stores in Kittery where you might find bargains on running gear.

Calendar of events in southern NH and area.

Running Calendar from Fleet Feet Sports Maine Running

Red Hook 5K. Portsmouth, May.

Eastern Trail 5-miler.

The Maine Coast Half Marathon in Biddeford is rated by Halfmarathons.net as one of the best half marathons in New England.