With hundreds of miles of trails, Maine is a spectacular hiking destination. The state boasts numerous state parks, a national park, a national forest, and other protected wilderness areas. Each of these locations offer unique opportunities for hikers and walkers. Recreational hikers will enjoy the natural beauty of Acadia National Park’s excellent trails, while hikers seeking a challenge may try to tackle the Appalachian Trail.
No matter where you hike, be sure to bring rain gear, a flashlight, and extra food and water. Inform a loved one or park ranger where you will be hiking and for how long. Storms can come up quickly and an accident on the trail may prevent you from getting back on time. Being prepared for your hike allows you to enjoy the serenity and natural beauty of Maine. Maine Registered Guides and local outfitters often offer guided day hikes or gear rentals for visitors. Hiring a guide ensures that you get an excellent wilderness experience while staying safe.
Maine Day Hikes
Ferry Beach State Park
Ferry Beach State Park is located in Saco, in southern Maine. Although the park itself is relatively small, it offers a 1.7-mile network of hiking trails. This is an easy hike suitable for families and novice hikers. The trail leads through a stand of rare Tupelo trees, across a swamp, and through a forest area. Hikers can pick wild blueberries during the late summer or view shore birds from the beach.
Wolfe’s Neck State Park
Wolfe’s Neck State Park, located in the Greater Portland and Casco Bay region, provides easy to moderate hiking opportunities for visitors. The park contains white pine and hemlock forests, a salt marsh estuary, and the rugged shoreline of Casco Bay. Enjoy the 4.4 miles of hiking trails, from an easy walk along the salt marsh to a more challenging trail with spectacular views of the bay. Bring binoculars to view the ospreys that nest on Googins Island during the summer.
Petit Manan Wildlife Refuge
The Petit Manan Point hugs the ocean shore in Maine’s Midcoast region and is part of the Maine Coastal Island National Wildlife Refuge. Petit Manan Point features the 1.5-mile Hollingsworth Trail, which travels along the shoreline and rocky granite beach. Hikers experience beautiful ocean scenery with views of Pigeon Hill Bay, Petit Manan Island, and an old lighthouse. The more difficult 4.2-mile Birch Point Trail passes salt marshes, hardwood forests, and old logging roads. This trail gives visitors an excellent opportunity to view local wildlife. Both trails are open to dogs on leashes less than 10 feet long.
Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park is one of the premier park destinations in the United States. It features dozens of miles of hiking trails, from easy to more challenging trails. The Ship Harbor Trail is an easy hike, forming a 1.2-mile loop that takes hikers from the evergreen forest to the rocky shores of the ocean. Experienced hikers seeking a longer day hike should consider the Giant Slide Trail to the summit of Sargent Mountain. This trail leads through ravines, forests, and open ledges that afford excellent views of the entire park and ocean scenery.
Quoddy Head State Park
Quoddy Head State Park, located near Maine’s easternmost point, offers over 5 miles of easy and moderate trails suitable for day-hikers. The Inland Trail is the shortest option, at 0.75 miles, and passes through conifer woods with unique mosses and lichens. Hikers seeking a half-day challenge may try the Coastal Trail, which passes a chasm called Gulliver’s Hole, a 150-foot bluff, and the Green Point outcropping, with amazing views of the ocean surf. On a clear day, hikers can see Grand Manan Island of New Brunswick, Canada, from the trail. Hikers should bring strong bug spray to avoid mosquitoes and black flies.
Haystack Mountain, in northern Aroostook County, provides amazing panoramic views of the surrounding forests and mountains. The trail is only 0.25 miles long but is moderate in difficulty because of the elevation gain. The trail splits midway up the mountain, allowing hikers to choose an easier summit path or a more challenging path involving a climb across an exposed ledge face. Hikers should wear sturdy footwear and bring bug spray. From the top of Haystack Mountain, hikers can see Mt. Katahdin, the North Maine Woods, Aroostook State Park, and miles of farmland.
Baxter State Park
Baxter State Park features over 200 miles of hiking trails of all difficulty levels. Those looking for an easy day hike should consider hiking roughly 1 mile to Big and Little Niagara Falls, two of the most scenic waterfalls in the park. Hikers seeking a challenge could tackle Baxter Peak, an all-day climb suitable only for experienced hikers. Park regulations require all hikers to carry a flashlight, as storms and trail accidents may prevent you from returning before nightfall.
Nahmakanta Public Reserved Land
Maine’s largest ecological reserve, Nahmakanta Public Reserved Land, features dozens of trails in the Maine Highlands region. Most of these trails are moderate to strenuous, perfect for experienced hikers looking for a challenging day trip. The 12-mile Debsconeag Backcountry Trail network leads through ponds, streams, cliffs, valleys, granite ledges, and open hardwood forests. Hiking 4 to 5 miles of this strenuous trail is an appropriate day trip for most hikers. The 5.4-mile Tumbledown Dick Trail and 9.6-mile Turtle Ridge Loop Trail are other challenging hiking options at the ecological reserve.
Little Moose Mountain
Little Moose Mountain, located near Moosehead Lake in north-central Maine, offers spectacular scenery of the lake and nearby mountains. There is an 8.9-mile trail network, most of which is moderate to strenuous in difficulty. Novice hikers seeking a half-day hike may be interested in the trail loop leading past Little Moose Pond and Big Moose Pond. This loop offers amazing views from rocky ledges overlooking the ponds and surrounding countryside. Wear sturdy hiking shoes, as the trail is rocky in places.
Bigelow Preserve borders Flagstaff Lake in the Maine Lakes and Mountains region. Several trails may be of interest to experienced day hikers. The Firewarden’s Trail travels 4.6 miles to Avery Peak, providing excellent views of small mountain ponds, hardwood forests, and spruce stands. Hikers should allow most of the day to hike this loop, giving them plenty of time to rest, snack, and take in the scenery. The Cranberry Peak trail is a suitable day hike, at 5.5 miles round trip. From the summit of Cranberry Peak, hikers can see Flagstaff Lake, the Bigelow Range, and many other surrounding mountains.
Bald Mountain Trail
The Rangeley Lake region in western Maine has an extensive network of hiking trails. The Bald Mountain Trail, located to the west of Rangeley Lake, is a great hike for people of all skill levels. Allow an hour or two for the 2-mile hike to give yourself plenty of time to take in the scenery. From Bald Mountain’s summit, hikers enjoy panoramic views of Rangeley Lake, Mooselookmeguntic Lake, Saddleback Mountain, and Mount Washington in New Hampshire. During the autumn season, the sugar maple and white birch trees are awash in fall color, making this a beautiful day hike opportunity.
Maine Backcountry Hikes
The Appalachian Trail stretches 2,184 miles from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin’s Baxter Peak in Maine. Approximately 281 miles of the trail pass through Maine, including a mile-long section of boulders at Mahoosuc Notch that is often called the trail’s hardest mile. The Maine portion of the Appalachian Trail begins near Grafton State Park in western Maine before traveling near Stratton, the Bigelow Preserve, Caratunk, Monson, Chairback Mountain, and Baxter State Park. Notable portions of the trail include the most isolated portion of the Appalachian Trail, called the “Hundred-Mile Wilderness,” dozens of river and stream crossings, and the only boat crossing on the trail.
Thousands of hikers attempt to hike the entire length of the trail each year, but only a few hundred succeed. Many hikers see moose, deer, and other wildlife while hiking the Appalachian Trail in Maine. The trail provides many excellent backcountry hiking opportunities, with several primitive shelters dotting its length. Alternatively, backcountry hikers may bring tents and other gear to set up camp at designated sites along the trail.
Mahoosuc Public Reserve
The Mahoosuc Public Reserve is located on the border with New Hampshire and consists of an extensive mountain range. This area is popular with backcountry hikers who enjoy its solitude and challenging trails. The Mahoosuc Range features several mountains for hikers to summit, spectacular hardwood forests, and a variety of camping opportunities. Storms can come up quickly in the mountain range, so be prepared with plenty of extra food, water, and foul weather gear.
Maine Walking Trails
Portland Walking Tour
Portland was named a “Distinctive Destination” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation for its rich cultural and architectural history. Walking tours of Portland are a great way to experience the city and its charm. The Best of Portland walking tour passes bridges, downtown trains and streetcars, bridges, the waterfront, and several historic fountains. Guides provide historical information and describe points of interest in this fascinating city. Tours run year-round on designated days of the week and take approximately 2 1/2 hours. Other walking tours include “Underground Portland,” describing the city’s scandalous past, and “Flavor Street,” which highlights the city’s best food carts.
Bar Harbor Walking Tour
For an intimate look at charming Bar Harbor, go on a self-guided walking tour of its elegant downtown area. Some of the buildings are on the National Historic Register and date from as early as 1860. Start from the Village Green and pass historic mansions, beautiful churches, and recently renovated municipal buildings. Contact the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce at 1-800-345-4617 for more information about sites of interest.
Other Hiking Resources
For more information about hiking and backpacking trips, look into some of Maine’s hiking organizations. The Maine Appalachian Trail Club manages the Maine portion of the Appalachian Trail. Volunteers clear the trail of debris, maintain shelters, and raise awareness about conservation issues. The organization also produces a guide to the Maine portion of the Appalachian Trail, a helpful resource for potential backpackers. Visit the Maine Appalachian Trail Club website for more information.
Healthy Maine Walks website. This organization is a coalition of health agencies, trail networks, and other organizations encouraging healthy lifestyles for Maine residents. The organization offers extensive descriptions of registered walks and hiking trails.
Maine Huts and Trails is located in the western mountains of Maine. This network connects backcountry eco-lodges through 45 miles of hiking trails, which will be expanding to 200 miles in the future. The network connects a series of huts, each of which is approximately a day’s journey by hiking or skiing. There is no fee to use the trail network, but there is a fee to reserve the lodges. This is a spectacular way to experience Maine’s backcountry without enduring the challenges of tent camping.