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    Foliage in Maine: the best places to admire the spectacle of autumn

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    Joel Fulleda

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    With this article dedicated to Maine we begin our journey to discover the best places to admire the autumn colors that create the characteristic spectacle of the New England foliage. 

    When mother nature created the Maine she was particularly generous. The "pine tree state" is the largest in New England and is the most northeastern part of the United States bordering Canada. To the west is New Hampshire and to the south is the Atlantic Ocean.

    More than four fifths of its surface is covered by forests and lakes while the coast is spectacular with a succession of beaches, islands, peninsulas, small estuaries, bays, fjords and inlets. There are about 1.200 islands: some are just rocks, others host fishermen's houses or summer residences.


    • When the foliage process begins
    • Where to enjoy the foliage at its best
      • Aroostook County
      • Baxter State Park
      • The lakes of Maine
      • The covered bridges
      • The central southern area
      • The coast of Maine
      • The lighthouses of Maine
      • Le scenic byways del Maine
    • How to get to Maine
    • Other useful resources

    When the foliage process begins

    Autumn is the ideal time for lovers of canoeing, kayaking, hunting and fishing but every year there is a particular time, from mid-September to mid-October, when the phenomenon of foliage; the colors of the leaves are tinged with red, orange, yellow and the environment takes on “magical” tones in a splendid contrast with the rocks and the sea. Following the gradual process of changing colors is crucial to fully enjoy the enchantment of the moment. A website was created specifically to monitor its evolution.

    Hiking in the woods in this period, face to face with nature, perhaps crossing scenic wooden covered bridges is extremely suggestive, something you won't forget. Our tour by car starts from the north and along the way encounters postcard views, some of which have impressed us particularly.

    October is not only the month in which nature is the protagonist; in the minds of Americans there is room to better prepare the celebration of Halloween. The houses, both inside and outside, are decorated for the occasion, perhaps sometimes excessively but we must not forget that this anniversary is very much felt here. Pumpkins, scarecrows, cobwebs, spiders, ghosts are almost everywhere, even in shops and restaurants.

    This is also the time when you feel inspired to buy something particularly typical: lo Maple syrup, a mouth-watering New England product. On the market it is found in various forms, such as the liquid one to be enjoyed on pancakes, the creamier one to spread, the much more full-bodied one of candies and the one in the form of filling for biscuits. You always end up buying a pack of everything!

    Where to enjoy the foliage at its best

    Aroostook County

    La Aroostook County, al confine col Canada, is the largest and most northerly county in Maine. Due to its position it is generally the first place where the show of fall foliage explodes. TO Almost Isle (which is not an island but a country), Aroosrook State Park (87 State Park Rd.) is a wonderful natural area. To make the most of it, you can camp, fish, swim in Echo Lake and take advantage of the picnic tables.

    In this scenic location it would be a mistake not to walk along the paths admiring the twin peaks of Mount Quaggy Jo, but at this time of the year you are enchanted by the trees around the lake that reflect their colors of fire in the water. These places deserve a stop and not a simple "hit and run". Between the counties of Aroostook and the nearby Piscataquis we recommend Allagash Wilderness Waterway, a set of rivers and lakes both small and large, which stretch for almost 150 kilometers, a kingdom for fishing, for those who love canoeing, camping, and in this period it becomes a palette of colors.

    Baxter State Park

    On the other hand, for those who like to walk, a full immersion in the shades of foliage at Baxter State Park (64 Balsam Dr. - Millinocket) is a must. Its 85.000 hectares are located in the central-northern part of the state. The activities normally practiced, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, cycling or simply admiring Mount Katahdin (the highest in the state), in this period are extremely rewarding for the particular chromatic context of the moment. And there is no shortage of waterfalls and lakes, such as Tracy Pond.

    The lakes of Maine

    This is the time of year when the lake environments express their full potential, the color palette is reflected in the water and one is fascinated by so much beauty. The Moosehead lake, in the Maine Highlands, is the largest in the state and within it there are 80 islands. The towns of Greenville to the south and Rockwood to the north line this body of water and many families have vacation homes here as it is the perfect place to fish, boating, relaxing and recharging.

    In the area center-west, towards the border with the state of New Hampshire, we point out the area of Rangeley Lakes formed by six large lakes and hundreds of others of smaller dimensions, pools, rivers and streams that in autumn offer dream photographic opportunities. In front of certain scenarios you feel good, at peace with yourself and it is a really good feeling.

    The covered bridges

    Most of the covered bridges are located along the border ridge with the New Hampshire to the west and in the moment of foliage, each of them gives life to a romantic, splendid picture. It is not always easy to locate them; sometimes they are clearly visible while in other cases they are almost “camouflaged” in the woods, for this reason it is important to obtain the satellite coordinates. Those we report are in the Lake and Mountain Region whose name already evokes ideal scenarios for foliage.

    • Sunday River Bridge (Sunday river Rd. - Newry) also called Artist bridge
    • Lovejoy Bridge (Covered Bridge Rd. - 14km North of US Rt.2 - S.Andover) the shortest in Maine
    • Hemlock Bridge (Hemlock Bridge Rd. – Fryeburg)
    • Babb’s Bridge (Covered Bridge Rd. – S. Windham)
    • Parsonsfield - Porter Bridge (off Rt. 160), historic bridge that offers a long and quiet pedestrian promenade, as it was closed to vehicle traffic in 1960.

    Also in this region we mention Bethel, a town in the lakeside area with scenic roads and gorgeous fall colors.

    The central southern area

    In the area center-south, the Belgrade Lakes area of Kennebeck Valley offer notable photographic opportunities in this period. It is a succession of seven lakes. Even the Moxie Falls, (Maine's tallest waterfalls in West Forks) are framed by warm fall colors. In this area is the city of Augusta, capital of Maine on the Kennebec river, with its capitol (Capital & State Sts.) and the historic downtown.

    The coast of Maine

    Mount Battie, Camden

    To southeast along the coast we meet Mount Desert Island, the largest island in Maine and sixth in the States where theAcadia national park, a park that is second to none especially in the first half of October when the colors are wonderful and it is pleasant to walk or ride a horse along the network of paths. Inside are the Bubble Pond and Jordan Pond lakes as well as the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, a lighthouse currently the private residence of a coast guard. From this park the view over the ocean is spectacular and from Mount Cadillac you can enjoy a wonderful panorama.

    In coastal region from Belfast and Rockland il Camden Hills State Park (280 Belfast Rd. - Camden), a refuge for migratory hawks, is an area with trails ideal for walking, cycling or horseback riding. On clear days, the view expands to Mount Cadillac in Acadia National Park. Don't miss the named car ride Mount Battie Auto Road which leads to the panoramic point from which to admire the colors of the surrounding hills.

    This postcard view is really worth it. From the top of the park you can enjoy the view of Penobscot Bay and Camden, a quaint 19th century coastal town with a scenic harbor at the foot of the hills. It goes without saying that its beauty is particularly enhanced during the period of foliage when the town becomes the exact portrait of how one imagines a "postcard" New England village.

    We associate the charm of nature with the delights of the palate. On southwest coast, the Scarborough, 15 minutes south of the city of Portland, we recommend you visit Just Libby (419 US-1). It is a company famous for its chocolate desserts and fudge, the typical semi-soft square-shaped dessert made from sugar, caramel, butter and milk. The family has handed down its fine art for eight generations. Inside the shop is Lenny, a life-size chocolate moose weighing nearly 900 pounds, welcoming customers. It is a real attraction!

    The lighthouses of Maine

    I lighthouses of Maine they are one of the most popular destinations and, like the covered bridges, they are even more suggestive in the period of fall foliage when the surroundings are ablaze with colors. Among the many we point out: The Nubble Lighthouse (Sohier Park Rd. - York) on the Cape Neddick promontory, in the southernmost point of Maine, one of the most famous and photographed in the States.

    Commissioned by George Washington, also the Portland Head (1000 Shore Rd. - Ft. William Park) is one of the most beautiful lighthouses in America and is located in Cape Elizabeth, about 20 minutes north of Portland. On the peninsula of Saint George you can visit the Marshall Point (Marshall Point Rd. - Port Clyde), a small lighthouse reachable by a bridge, famous for being the arrival point of Forrest Gump's race in the film of the same name. West Quoddy Head (S.Lubec Rd. - Lubec) instead is located on the border with Canada, at the easternmost point of the continental United States.

    To learn more about the topic, we remind you to read our itinerary dedicated to lighthouses of Maine and New England.

    Nubble Lighthouse

    Experience the atmosphere of these areas in this particular period of the year in the structures used for campground it is an added value. Staying in this type of structure allows you to be in symbiosis with the environment. There are so many and it is nice to make new friends in the common areas and around the fire while savoring the marshmallows, typical gummy sweets to be seared on the fire, even better if "embraced" by two biscuits. But also i Bed & Breakfast del New England they are an experience to try as an alternative to more traditional hotels. They are all very good and each of them goes well with the postcard landscape.

    When you are close to one of the many lakes we recommend that you also include an excursion in boat in order to enjoy the triumph of nature from another vantage point with shades of red, orange and yellow interspersed with the green of evergreen trees. It is easy to find a way to rent one on site.

    Le scenic byways del Maine

    Grafton Notch State Park

    When you are in the presence of an explosive nature, it is almost automatic to feel the desire to leave the motorways and take the secondary roads (byways). We report some scenic tours along the coast, entering the magical scenarios that fall foliage offers. You will take beautiful photos but above all you will feel strong emotions.

    We suggest Grafton Notch Scenic Byways which starts in Newry (near Bethel), in the west of Maine on the border with New Hampshire, between waterfalls, walks and Grafton Notch State Park. Pequawket Trail Scenic Byways (Rt.113) is located in the west, near the White Mountain National Forest and here too there is no shortage of splendid views.

    Going south we come to the ocean and we recommend The Bold Coast to capture rocky coasts, maritime forests, beaches, ports, sea birds, seals and the marvel of the panorama at sunrise and sunset. We are in the Acadia regions in the area of Bar Harbor and Down East on the border with southern Canada.

    More information can be found on the local tourism website. The intensity of the foliage is variable; do not worry if you happen to be visiting in a slightly less colorful year. Ask the locals and they will always know how to indicate an area where the foliage has exploded "great".

    How to get to Maine

    To reach Maine, reference is generally made toairport international Logan in Boston (1 Harborside Dr.) in Massachusetts or the home of Portland (1001 Westbrook St.) in Maine.

    We recommend hiring a car to travel freely following an itinerary but deviating without problems where it "takes the heart". Ready to get excited? Maine is a state of great beauty; visiting it is a memorable experience, which of course we particularly recommend during the fall faliage period, not only to nature lovers but to all those who wish to learn more about another exciting corner of the United States.

    Other useful resources

    If you are thinking of embarking on a New England itinerary, I would like to point out some resources that may be useful for planning your trip.

    • Our guide on how to plan a tour of New England.
    • Our tips on Country Inn: the best Bed & Breakfasts in the region.
    • All you need to know about Acadia National Park, New England's most fascinating natural park.
    • Our advice on the city of Boston, a reference point for visiting the region.
    • Our section with all the recommended itineraries in New England.
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