Maine's Great Outdoors

Original open uri20160815 3469 i8zrep?1471295153?ixlib=rails 0.3
Maine's Great Outdoors
Maine provides travelers with some of the most pristine wilderness in the Northeast. Adventurers who take advantage of The Pine Tree State's natural setting will be rewarded with opportunities for adrenaline and camaraderie, tranquility and solitude.
By Sam Barns, AFAR Local Expert
Photo by Joseph Cyr
  • 1 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 i8zrep?1471295153?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Island Style
    It's difficult to fully appreciate coastal Maine without getting on a boat and exploring the islands. The rocky coastline and pine tree-covered islands offer plenty of adventure. Some islands are fully developed, independent communities, while others are untouched nature preserves. Jewell Island features campsites, swimming holes, and WWII lookout towers that offer panoramic views of Casco Bay. Peaks Island is a tourist favorite and is accessible using the Casco Bay Ferry system. It’s a great place for Maine-made ice cream and a bike ride along the coast.
    Photo by Joseph Cyr
  • 2 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 exgz39?1471295157?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Sandy Beaches
    While the coast of Maine is dominated by rocky shoreline, the state does have miles of sandy beaches as well. From the hustle and bustle of Old Orchard Beach to the quiet serenity of Goose Rocks Bay, there’s a beach for everyone no matter what you are looking for. Scarborough Beach State Park and Higgins Beach are the most popular surf spots; both have lessons and rentals available. For a more secluded beach experience, check out Morse Mountain in Phippsburg, Maine, where a brief hike over the mountain will lead you to a beautiful, undeveloped beach.
    Photo courtesy of Maine Office of Tourism
  • 3 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 1r2dvat?1471295161?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Relax at the Ponds
    A map of Maine reveals dozens of "ponds." Visit some of them and it'll become clear that Mainers use the term loosely: Many of these so-called ponds are big enough to spend an entire day exploring in a canoe or rowboat. It's worth checking out the Rangeley, Naples, and Poland areas; plenty of options exist for renting canoes and kayaks and even for taking lessons. Most ponds don't allow motorboats, and a day on the motor-free water is a quiet and relaxing experience. Without the buzz of the engines it's easier to spot wildlife such as Maine’s signature loons (a type of aquatic bird), moose, and deer.
    Photo by Joseph Cyr
  • 4 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 iqw7ur?1471295165?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Watch the Nation Wake Up
    As the eastern-most state in the contiguous United States, Maine sees the sun rise before anywhere else (except Alaska's Aleutian Islands). Wake up early on a summer morning and watch the sun come up over the Atlantic. The view is beautiful from anywhere, but the truly dedicated should wake up early enough to drive up Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park. From the mountain's peak it's possible to see the very first rays of the day. Other good spots are the pier on Old Orchard Beach, and Egg Rock Lighthouse in Bar Harbor. Not a morning person? Get out to Peaks Island in Portland and enjoy a sunset dinner at the Cockeyed Gull.
    Photo by Christine Anuszewski
  • 5 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 fibo8l?1471295169?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Pedal Power
    Bikers of all ability levels will find a route in Maine. Peaks Island, Deering Oaks, and the Back Bay in Portland provide easy, beautiful, family-friendly trails with opportunities to stop for coffee or ice cream along the way. More experienced bikers will enjoy the long, winding, rolling roads around Cornish, Kingfield, and Oxford. Most of these roads are narrow and without a shoulder, so experience is necessary. Mountain bikers can visit Sugarloaf or Shawnee Peak ski mountains in the summer and catch a lift up before riding their bikes down. Cycling is a perfect way to take in the sites, sounds, and smells of Maine while getting some exercise.
    Photo by Alan Haynes/age fotostock
  • 6 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 1xdt9zp?1471295173?ixlib=rails 0.3
    The Appalachian Trail
    The Appalachian Trail is a 2,180-mile trail running from Georgia to Maine. Many of the most spectacular spots—Mahoosuc Notch (often referred to as "the hardest mile"), The 100 Mile Wilderness, and the summit of Mount Katahdin (the end of the trail)—run through Maine. The whole trail takes around three months to traverse, but you can explore just parts of it. Hiking in early fall presents the opportunity to meet thru-hikers, who started in Georgia months before. Some of the best day hikes on the trail are in Kingfield in the Bigelow Mountains and Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park. Trails are available to all ability levels; hikers can check the Appalachian Mountain Club’s guidebooks before heading out.
    Photo courtesy of Maine Office of Tourism
  • 7 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 1yjhkr6?1471295177?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Sea Kayaking
    Taking on the ocean with your own paddle is a humbling experience, and Maine’s numerous island-spotted bays are ideal places for sea kayaking. Stonington, Maine has lots of good day paddles and some small inns to stay in overnight. Casco Bay and Bar Harbor also offer a variety of day and overnight paddles. Beginners can contact outdoor specialists L.L. Bean (their flagship store is in Freeport) to arrange lessons or group trips. And after a day on the water, kayakers can relax at one of Maine’s many luxury seaside hotels, such as the Samoset Resort, The Inn on Peaks Island, Camden Harbor Inn, or the Portland Regency Hotel and Spa.
    Photo by Celin Serbo/age fotostock
  • 8 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 1lh5kp7?1471295181?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Gone Fishing
    Fishing out on the open ocean can be a thrilling experience. People looking for the big catch can charter a deep-water fishing boat and head a few miles off the coast to the Gulf Stream where they can catch tuna and blue fish. Fly-fishermen seeking to battle a more intelligent species will find a challenge in trying to fool salmon and trout in Maine’s rivers and streams. Even kids can have fun fishing for small fry off a dock using hooks and worms. The Rangeley region offers the best freshwater fishing, with a broad range of pristine, spring-fed rivers and lakes.
    Photo by Jeff Greenberg/age fotostock
  • 9 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 k6qk4d?1471295187?ixlib=rails 0.3
    White Knuckle Water
    For a hefty dose of adrenaline try rafting on the Kennebec or Penobscot Rivers in Maine. A day on the river is a great way to get close to nature and literally feel its power. First-timers will enjoy the constant rolling rapids of the Kennebec River, and those who are really in the mood for adventure can take on the Class V rapids of the Penobscot River. Trips are available for children as young as three and these full-day adventures include all necessary gear as well as lunch, drinks, and snacks. The rivers pass through rocky gorges as well as marshes where you may see native plants, birds, and even moose. The best times of year to go are spring, when the waters are high, and the end of summer when the weather is warmest.
    Photo courtesy of Maine Office of Tourism
  • 10 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 t2h0zn?1471295193?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Secret Swim Spots
    Hiking alongside lakes, streams, and rivers in Maine often goes hand in hand with swimming. If you're lucky, you'll even find your own private swimming hole. These secret swim spots are great places to cool off after a long hike or to enjoy your lunch in the peace and solitude of nature. Some good places to look for your own private outdoor pool include Coos Canyon in Byron and Gulf Hagas in Greenville—also known as “The Grand Canyon of the East.” Remember, the best spots won’t be mentioned on a map or trail sign, so get adventurous and just start looking.
    Photo by Tiina & Geir/age fotostock