Saco is a small city in York County, that was originally inhabited by the Abenaki Indian tribe. Once a thriving mill town, it is now primarily a tourist destination, although it does support some high-profile industries. The town is full of hotels, motels and campgrounds that are pooch-friendly, such as Ramada Saco/ Old Orchard Beach and the Hampton Inn Saco/ Old Orchard Beach, which are both reasonably-priced and welcome dogs for a small additional fee. Silver Springs Campground and Lodging and the Saco/ Old Orchard Beach KOA are also dog-friendly. All of these properties require that Fido remain on leash outside the hotel room or camping vehicle.
The Saco River makes its way through Saco after traveling some 130 miles from its origin in New Hampshire and empties into the Atlantic Ocean at Saco’s Camp Ellis. The river is a popular recreation destination, attracting pup-loving kayakers, canoers, and campers because of its serenely flowing waters and length. Many sandy beaches line the river (except during flood season), and your pup is welcome to camp with you on the beaches or on other non-posted public land on the shore. Canoe and kayak rentals can be found in the areas around the river. Be sure to get a life jacket for your furry friend!
Should your pup need medical attention for an injury or illness while you are in Saco, be aware that there are more than a dozen veterinarians and animal hospitals in Downtown Saco, as well as in the surrounding areas of Scarborough and Biddeford. They’ll get your pup up and wagging in no time!
The City Center neighborhood of Saco is a large area that offers shops and restaurants in downtown, and features 3 trails: the Middle Goosefare Trails, Cascade Falls Trail, and a portion of the Eastern Trail. All of these lovely walking trails are dog-friendly to leashed pups. The Middle Goosefare Trails are .5 miles of networked paths with a brook running through. In spite of the trails’ closeness to Route 1, this is a quiet oasis of woodland tracks with the occasional ledge and grassy area. Cascade Falls features a small network of trails totaling .3 miles, and is popular for fishing, walking and viewing the falls. The surface is stone dust, which is easy on feet and makes it accessible to people with wheelchairs and walkers. The Saco to Scarborough portion of the Eastern Trail is over 8 miles of easy hiking. All of this section is off-road, and provides many wildlife viewing opportunities. Woofderful!
This Saco neighborhood lies west of Interstate 95/ Maine Turnpike, and is home to the Horton Woods, a dog-friendly 100-acre wildlife sanctuary that features 2.2 miles of trails that run through woodlands, marsh, beside pools, and over a brook. Natural stone steps lead to a wooden bridge over Stackpole Creek, and the trails are arranged in a network of loops and out-and-back paths. The terrain is varied, from easy to moderate to advanced, and the surface is forest floor except in the marshy areas. This is a great park for viewing wildlife along its several trails, including a beaver dam, and there are resting benches along the way where you and your fur-pup can sit and enjoy the picturesque nature surrounding you.
Pepperrell Park is a small neighborhood green space with a playground and a ball field, but most of the space is grass where you and Fido can romp and play. This park is dog- and kid-friendly, so bring the family out to enjoy a picnic under the trees, or a game of catch on the lawn. A peaceful, quiet setting in the middle of downtown Saco provides a respite from the cares of the day. Just next door to Pepperrell Park is the Saco Dog Park. This fully fenced park allows your fur-baby to socialize with other dogs and get some exercise, and features large tree stumps and granite blocks to climb and sit on, lots of grass, and lovely mature trees that provide shade. Be sure to bring water and waste bags, as these are not provided by the park.
This neighborhood is home to the Ferry Beach State Park, one of the most visited parks in southern Maine. It is 117 acres of white sand beach, along with hiking trails, one of which meanders through a Tupelo swamp on a raised boardwalk. The Tupelo is rarely found as far north as Saco, and typically grows in a bog. The Ferry Landing Trailhead begins at the parking lot entrance to the park, and after dipping under Route 9, arrives at the ocean and its beautiful beach. Much of the park is wooded with a network of well-marked trails that vary from forest floor to gravel. Dogs are allowed on the beach between October 1 and March 31, and in the rest of the park year-round on leash. The park features picnic areas, with a pavilion, tables and grills, restrooms, concession stand, changing huts, and opportunities for surf-fishing on the beach. This is an old-fashioned beach-based park that has much more to offer than just sand and sun. Pawtastic!
Just over Saco’s northern border is Old Orchard Beach, a charming beach town with surf shops, an amusement park, tee-shirt shops and street eateries. For the town’s doggos, however, there is the Old Orchard Beach Dog Park, a fully fenced, safety-gated park with 2 separate sections for large and small dogs, fresh water, tennis balls that happened to find their way from the tennis courts next door, and comfortable seating for the humans. There is even a covered area for shelter from the sun or inclement weather. If hunger strikes, drive a short way down the Route 9/ Grand Avenue to the Sunset Bar and Grill where you can feast on everything from lobster to prime rib, with Fido by your side at the outdoor lawn seating. Bone appetit! If it’s Thursday night in the summer, and your pup isn’t scared of loud noises and explosions of light, stick around the Town Square for the weekly fireworks display on the beach!