We recently told you about an amazing drive through Acadia. The all-day, 40-mile excursion is one of the best and the state, allowing you to see some of the best spots in Maine’s only National Park. But, that’s not the only scenic drive in Vacationland. If you’ve got some time on your hands and aren’t in any hurry, you might want to hit the road to check out the best of the state by car. Here are some wonderful roads to help you do that.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. 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.
2. Route 1, The Million Dollar View Maine Scenic Byway
This is certainly not the only span of Route 1 that's a stunner, but it might be the one that's most "official." Hopping in the car for this one means views of East Grand, Brackett and Deering Lakes before reaching the byway's high point near the top of Peekaboo Mountain. If you want to continue, this route will ultimately lead you into Aroostook County or New Brunswick, Canada.
3. Route 11, The Fish River Maine Scenic Byway
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.
4. 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. Much of this road is unpaved so make sure your car can handle the trip before heading out. If you go, you'll be treated to incredible 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.
5. Route 27
This 50-mile Northern route connects Kingfield with Sugarloaf, Stratton and Eustis. Begin 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.
6. Route 113, The Pequawket Trail Maine Scenic Byway
This 60-mile route makes for a lovely 2-hour trip in any season. If you do it soon, you can make a day of it and take a picnics, do some hiking and check out the local 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 Fryeburg.
7. Schoodic 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 US-1. 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.
8. Route 201, The Old Canada Road Scenic Byway
Choose this route 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.
9. Route 11, The Katahdin Woods & Waters Maine Scenic Byway
Part of Maine's scenic byway system, this 89-mile trip is another one that will take you through the North Woods. On this trip you'll go from Baxter State Park to Millinocket where you'll hop onto Route 11 to Medway. Here you'll head North on Route 11, eventually following Route 159 to the northern boundary of Baxter State Park at Matagamon. You can access the byway from Exit 244 in Medway and Exit 264 in Sherman if you're traveling on I-95.
10. Routes 17, 16 and 4, The Rangeley Lakes National Scenic Byway
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.