The best way to see a state is to drive through its back roads. We are huge believers in hitting the road to experience all Maine has to offer. Sometimes, it’s the journey itself that’s worth the accolades. So, here are a few trips to take in Maine that will let you sit back and enjoy the ride. Don’t worry about getting out of the car for anything other than taking in nature. Oh, and maybe to enjoy some of the attractions we’ve included along the way.
For these routes, you can leave the GPS at home. Clicking beneath each photo will take you directly to the Google Maps route with directions. Have fun!
1. State Route 27 Scenic Byway
This 50-mile straight shot north connects Kingfield with Sugarloaf, Stratton and Eustis. Begin this route in Kingfield and follow the Carrabassett River for views of Mount Abraham and the Bigelow Range. Continue to the end and you'll be at the international border crossing in Coburn Gore. Some nice sights along the way include Sugarloaf for skiing, Moose Alley for bowling and maybe even a few steps along the Appalachian Trail for hearty folks. If you read the sad story of the town of
you might want to stop by for a look at what now stands in its place.
2. Old Canada Road Scenic Byway, Route 201
Choose this road trip if you're a history buff or if you have a love of adventure, including the desire for a quick rafting trip along the way. You'll see evidence of the 19th and 20th century lumber boom in many of the towns on this 78-mile route. In fact, most of the area is working forest and Route 201 continues to be an important trade route between Canada and the US. As you pass through these beautiful small towns, make sure to see one of the oldest, continually operating summer music theaters in the US, the Lakewood Theater in Madison.
3. The Bold Coast Scenic Byway
This 125-mile route is one of the most robust on the list and will take you to places you've heard of, but may have never visited. You'll need a weekend for this, but it's worth it! No other area of Maine is quite like this portion of Downeast Maine and Coastal Washington County.
The route begins in the community of Milbridge and heads eastward along the coast to Lubec. From here, you'll go towards Cobscook Bay and on to Eastport. If you choose this trip, you'll be treated to Maine's incredible wild blueberry barrens, coastal forests and marshes. You'll have opportunities to stop and enjoy the many recreational trails that allow you to explore the land around you.
4. Rangeley Lakes National Scenic Byway
Always one of our favorites, this 52-mile route on State Routes 17, 16, and 4 surrounds Rangeley Lake and crosses the Appalachian Trail. The most memorable part is, perhaps, the view of Mooselookmeguntic Lake at the Height of Land. Depending which season you make the trip, add a detour to Angel Falls, Coos Canyon, Rangeley Lakes State Park, Rangeley Logging Museum or Saddleback Mountain for skiing. On the map associated with this trip, we've included a detour to Angel Falls.
5. The Katahdin Woods & Waters Maine Scenic Byway
Part of Maine's scenic byway system, this 89-mile trip will take you through the North Woods. You can hop on the road at Togue Pond in Baxter State Park then head towards East Millinocket. You'll then get onto 11, followed by 159 until you make your way to the northern edge of Baxter at Matagamon.
6. The Golden Road Maine Scenic Byway
The 96-mile Golden Road was built by the Great Northern Paper Company and stretches from the St. Zacharie Quebec border crossing to the company's former mill in Millinocket. Seems like a lot of work until you think about how they used to FLOAT the logs on the river to get them to the mill. Much of this road is unpaved so make sure your car is in good shape before heading out. Look forward to some awesome views of Katahdin on the way. Begin the drive in Millinocket, head to Ambajejus Lake, then Greenville and on to Seboomook Lake. Lastly, you'll be heading towards the Saint-Zacharie border crossing.
7. Pequawket Trail Maine Scenic Byway, Route 113
This 60-mile route makes for a lovely 2-hour trip in chilly autumn temps for leaf peepin' or in the winter for views of snow covered trees. Make a day of it in the summer for picnics, hikes and swimming holes. Throughout the trip along the Saco River and the Mountain Division Rail, you'll pass sustainable working farms, artisans and pure nature. The byway runs between Standish and approximately Gilead. Some nice side trips include The Hemlock Covered Bridge in Fryeburg, The Mountain Division rail trail, The Hiram Rail Museum and The Fryeburg Museum.
8. Fish River Maine Scenic Byway, Route 11
This 37-mile trip between Portage and Fort Kent will lead you to some of the best that Northern Maine has to offer. Take in the views of natural landscapes, including Mt. Katahdin and Eagle Lake and then take a few side trips to places like Fort Kent Blockhouse, the Allagash Wilderness Waterway and Aroostook State Park.
9. Million Dollar View Maine Scenic Byway, US 1
This 8-mile span of Route 1 is unforgettable. It's the shortest on this list, but might give you some of the most breathtaking views of all. Enjoy the East Grand, Brackett and Deering Lakes before reaching the byway's high point near the top of Peekaboo Mountain. While the official route is only a quick 8-miler on US 1, it's lovely to keep on going towards Orient, which is what is reflected in this map.
10. Schoodic National Scenic Byway
This trip is a good one to make if you're using Bar Harbor as a base. Make your way to Hancock and jump onto US1. This 29-mile route will take you through the only mainland portion of Acadia. Along the shoreline there are plenty of beautiful lighthouses and nature, as well as views of Cadillac Mountain and Mount Desert Island. Along the way, make time to stop at the variety of places on the National Historic Register, including The Prospect Harbor Light and The Old Sullivan Store. Other nice options are Mt. Desert Island and Quarry Wharf.