Living in Maine means plenty of access to some of the best outdoor recreation that this country has to offer. In fact, I’d argue that I’ve never been anywhere that you can spend a morning hiking through the woods, followed by an afternoon exploring the coastline. Whatever your preferred method of enjoying the outdoors, here is our ultimate list of absolute favorites. Hopefully, some of these are new to you – although, if we know Mainers, many will be things you’ve already done!
1. Relax at Wolfe’s Neck State Park, Freeport.
You'd have to work hard to find a boring trail in this park. Walking through the network of Casco Bay Trails will take you from forest to rocky coastline. This one is great for kids and you can finish off the day at the outlets in downtown Freeport.
Distance/Duration: 5 miles if you do every trail, 1-5 hours depending on how leisurely you'd like to be.
2. Put in that extra effort to catch a sunrise.
This one is in Rockport, but if you can manage to catch one, they'll all be this beautiful.
3. Cool off at Rattlesnake Flume and Pool, Evans Notch.
Plan for a hot day of hiking Blueberry Mountain in Evans Notch and make sure you stop off at Rattlesnake Flume and Pond near the end. The crystal clear pool is located just off Stone House Trail. You'll see a marker showing you the way via a small detour.
4. Soak in those last few weeks of summer at Popham Beach State Park, Phippsburg.
Popham Beach is a sand beach approximately three miles long that encompasses about 529 acres at the mouth of the Kennebec River in Phippsburg. It's family friendly and kids can explore the sandbars and tidal pools at low tide. With bathhouses, freshwater showers and a picnic area with grills it's easy to make a day of it. Don't want to spend the entire day at the actual beach? Check out the trails and abundant wildlife watching in the park. Parking is available off of Popham Road.
5. Meander through the flowers at McLaughlin Garden & Homestead, South Paris.
McLaughlin Gardens was started by Bernard McLaughlin in 1936. He welcomed anyone who wanted to visit whenever his doors were open. The garden and homestead have now been open for about 70 years. The garden is about two acres and is now owned by a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the historic home, barn and garden for the public. You can visit between May to October for no charge.
6. Go watch the Reversing Falls, West Pembroke.
In West Pembroke, a tidal flow alternately fills and drains both Whiting Bay and Dennys Bay. The salt water flows incredibly fast into the bays over rocks causing the appearance of "falls."
7. Explore Gulf Hagas, Piscataquis County.
You can take in the "Grand Canyon of the East" via an 8.6 mile looped hike. If you have time, add this to the summer portion of your bucketlist - that's when you can bring your bathing suit because swimming is allowed here.
8. Gawk at Moxie Falls, Moxie Gore.
If sweeping views aren't enough incentive for you to hit the outdoors, check out this trail leading to Moxie Falls. Moxie is one of Maine's highest waterfalls and has a vertical drop of almost 90 feet. The hike isn't hard, but might be slippery in places.
Distance/Duration: 2 miles round trip, 2-3 hours not including the time you spend thinking about what it would feel like to hurl yourself over the 90' falls in a perfect swan dive.
9. Be a leaf-peepah at Belgrade Lakes, Central Maine.
During fall, the scenery of the Belgrade Lakes Region explodes with color, and the quaint little Main Street is alive with local flavor. Don't miss the picture-perfect Harvest Festival in early October - your friends will feel like they're stuck in a Norman Rockwell painting.
10. Lay under the stars while camping at Sebago Lake State Park, Casco.
Sebago Lake State Park is the largest in Southern Maine and offers clean campsites and facilities. The over 200 sites include both reservable and non-reservable areas, many with water and electric hook-ups. Reservable sites must be booked for at least 4 nights during the official camping season, which runs from mid-May through mid-September.
11. Experience a true Maine gem on the Jewell Island Trails, Jewell Island, Casco Bay.
This hike makes the bucketlist because it also includes boating! To hike the Jewell Island trails you're going to have to work for it. The island is only accessible by boat and there are no scheduled ferry services. So, find yourself a craft or a seafaring friend and get ready to experience one of the loveliest outer islands off the coast of Portland. There are so many accessible paths here, we can't list them all but trust us when we tell you that the 221 acres of island habitat will not disappoint. Those looking for more adventure can pack camping gear and make a weekend of it in the campgrounds on the island. History buffs will enjoy the relics left from WW1 and WW2.
Distance/Duration: 3 miles of trails on the network, anywhere from 3-4 hours, not including launching your boat from the mainland and making your way over.
12. Splash around at Bickford Slides, Oxford County.
The Bickford Brook travels between Blueberry and Sugarloaf Mountains within the White Mountains. There are hundreds of feet of various cascades and, when it's warm, swimming is a great activity along the way.
13. Ramble along the Coastal Trail, Quoddy Head State Park, Lubec.
While this trail is shorter in distance, it's one of the hardest on this list. It's steep in places with some small areas to place your feet. But, along the way you'll be able to see from the Quoddy Channel to the cliffs of Grand Manan Island in New Brunswick Canada. It's worth it!
Distance/Duration: 4 miles round trip, 4-5 hours.
14. See the real Maine at Aroostook State Park, Presque Isle.
Aroostook State Park is the ideal starting point to discover the North Woods and bears the distinct honor of being Maine's first state park. In 1938, interested citizens of Presque Isle donated 100 acres of land to the State of Maine, and following that gesture, the park became reality in 1939. Today the park totals nearly 800 acres thanks to subsequent donations and purchases.
15. Enjoy a classic Maine swimming hole by going to Coos Canyon, Oxford County.
This swimming hole is easily accessed by simply pulling off of the Route 17 Scenic Highway. The swimming area is a deep area within the Swift River and is nestled between two fairly steep sections of rock. It can sometimes be slippery to access, so exercise extreme caution when heading in. Then, once you're in, soak up the sun!
16. Walk around Mount Agamenticus, York/Ogunquit Area.
This is a fairly easy 1.5-mile loop near Cape Neddick ends with a phenomenal view. The trail is primarily used for hiking & mountain biking and allows dogs. Before being turned into a trail area, this was an "Upside Down" ski mountain. Drive your car up to the top and then ski yourself down!
17. Test your might at Baxter State Park, Millinocket.
Home to Katadhdin, we probably don't even need to tell you about Baxter. However, something you may not know is that it's not actually part of Maine's state park system. Sole governance is provided by the Baxter State Park Authority, consisting of the Maine Attorney General, the Maine Commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Director of the Maine Forest Service. But, it makes our list because of its incredible beauty!
18. Enjoy the outdoors from the comfort of your dinner table at The Spirit Restaurant, Kennebunk.
We recently told you all about this wonderful, tall-ship restaurant in Maine and couldn't resist adding it to this outdoor bucketlist. It counts because it's outside, right? Either way, you could spend a worse afternoon than sipping cocktails on the deck of this former tall ship. Read more about it
19. Simply walk out your front door or look out the window, anywhere.
You don't need to stress yourself out if you're not the outdoors type. There's plenty of Maine views to be taken in without packing a car full of supplies. That's the beauty of this state. Just by being here, you're in the most beautiful place in the world!
Want some more options for fun in the state of Maine? Gulf Hagas, mentioned in this article, is always a crowd pleaser.
Click here if you want more details on visiting! Or, if it’s a rainy day out there, check out this list of our favorite strange museums!