Labor Day is behind us and we all know cooler autumn temps are coming. But, don’t despair! The fact that summer is on its way out doesn’t mean the outdoor fun has to come to an end. In fact, in many places in Maine the fun is just getting started. One of our favorite activities to enjoy during this transition season is hiking on our many trails. There are some for every ability level, from Katahdin’s knife-edge aficionados to folks that prefer flat ground and walking trails. Here are a few easy hikes that you must add to your outdoor bucket list in Maine.
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. Cascade Stream Gorge Trail, Sandy River Plantation
This relatively easy 1-mile loop follows the path of the Cascade Stream gorge. The hike offers picnic opportunities, and the stream is great for swimming on a hot day. The hike is located within the 50-acre Cascade Stream Gorge Conservation Area, which is on the Maine Registry of Critical Areas. It's a truly beautiful place.
Distance/Duration: Approximately 1 mile, about 30-45 minutes round trip, depending on your pace.
2. Ocean Path, Acadia National Park
If you think Acadia National Park is only for the serious hiker, think again. It's absolutely possible to explore the classic Maine forest and coastline using your own two feet - even if you are not a seasoned hiker. Hiking Ocean Path will give you views of what many believe to be "classic Maine" - from coast to forest. There are many stopping points which make it a relaxing hike for those who don't want to have to constantly scramble uphill over rock. The trail will take you past Thunder Hole and will end at Otter Point with views of Cadillac and Dorr Mountains.
Distance/Duration: 4 miles one way, about 8 round trip, anywhere from 3-5 hours depending on how many times you stop and enjoy the journey.
3. 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.
4. Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge, Caribou
Within the refuge are over 5 miles of trails, all focused around Chapman Pond and Greenlaw Brook. There are three distinct trail heads and each trail is maintained and relatively flat, making these hikes great for beginners and kids. In addition to hiking, running, snowshoeing and skiing are all allowed in the area.
Distance/Duration: About 5 miles of trails and all are relatively easy, Plan for a half-day to explore.
5. Step Falls Trail, Newry
This moderately easy 1-mile trail will bring you directly to the base of the falls, which are among the highest in Maine. For a different vantage point, take the slightly more challenging (though not difficult) hike up to the top. The trail follows along Wight Brook and offers opportunities for wildlife viewing and swimming.
Distance/Duration: Approximately 1 mile round trip, about 45 minutes to one hour for the whole thing, depending on your pace.
6. 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.
7. Ecotat Gardens and Arboretum, Hermon
Not only is this garden beautiful, but it is also completely free of charge. The more than 80 acres of land provides 15 acres of gardens for exploring. It's full of non-native flowers and native trees. The trail system meanders through wooded area, as well as the marshy area below.
Distance/Duration: Approximately 1.3 miles including the entire network of paths, anywhere from 1-3 hours.
8. Alewive Woods Preserve, Kennebunk
This forested preserve is comprised of approximately 625 acres and includes Alewife Pond. This trail will take you in a loop to the pond and back. In the spring you'll be surrounded by wildflowers and in the summer you'll want to bring a container for blueberry picking.
Distance/Duration: Approximately 2.5 miles including the full network of paths, anywhere from 1-3 hours.
9. Holden Community Learning Trails, Holden
This network of trails is located near the elementary school in town and serves as a great place for providing outdoor education to the community. If you're looking to take it easy, take the Washburn Trail. For those looking to get deeper into the woods, there are a few different trails that cross each other. If you explore all the trails, you'll still have a fairly easy time. Additionally, there are markers throughout providing information on flora and fauna.
Distance/Duration: Approximately 1.2 miles including the entire network of paths, anywhere from 1-3 hours.
10. Lily Bay State Park Trails, Beaver Cove
This lovely state park was created in part using land donated by the Scott Paper Company. While the area is mainly used by campers and visitors to Moosehead Lake, the trails offer a nice getaway into the surrounding land. There are 2 main hiking trails here. Both the Dunn Point Trail and the Rowell Cove Trail are fairly easy, family friendly and will take you along the shore of the lake.
Distance/Duration: Approximately 2 miles for both trails, anywhere from 1-3 hours.
11. South Bubble Mountain and Jordan Pond: Mt. Desert, Acadia National Park
The South Bubble hike of the Bubble Mountains is one of the more accessible endeavors in Acadia National Park. Once you've reached the top you'll see the famous perched rock, left by glacial activity centuries ago.
Distance/Duration: 2 miles, 1-3 hours.
12. Jewell Island Trails, Jewell Island, Casco Bay
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
13. Rines Forest Trail, Cumberland
The Rines Forest is part a 216-acre woodland that features a variety of land types. The southern portion of the area is one of the most lovely and has steep rolling hills mixed with wonderful cascading streams. Keep in mind that much of this area is wet, floodplain and is meant only to be used in the winter.
Distance/Duration: The network is comprised of about 2.5 miles of trails, Anywhere from 1 to 3 hours depending on your route and pace.