It doesn’t get much more wild than Maine — a state that’s home to rocky shores, roaming moose, and the most difficult (and remote) segment of the Appalachian Trail. Here in the northeasternmost U.S. state, it’s easy to find a hiking trail that gets you out into the woods and away from the flocks of tourists who tend to head to Maine’s quaint coastal towns in search of picturesque lighthouses and the state’s best lobster shacks.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a total newbie or a seasoned hiker, Maine has a little dose of adventure that’s suitable for everyone. Here are some of the state’s best hikes.
Long known as the most arduous section of the Appalachian Trail, the 100-Mile Wilderness gets its name from the approximate distance between the towns on either side of the segment. You’ll want to prepare for an eight- to 10-day backpacking trip if you tackle this expedition, so think of this hike as something to work toward — not your first trek of the year. Those who take on the challenge are rewarded with access to remote Maine landscapes. The trail follows the slopes of wooded mountains and lake-speckled valleys, providing hikers with an authentic taste of the Maine northwoods, complete with moose, lynxes, and loons.
Cadillac Mountain South Ridge Trail
Sure, you can drive up Cadillac Mountain, but why do that when you can take this moderately challenging seven-and-a-half-mile path to the top and back? The trail weaves through the woods, then ascends to open rocky ledges leading to the summit. Start your journey at Blackwoods Campground (or pitch your tent there and have s’mores supplies waiting for your return).
Knife Edge Trail
If you’re a confident hiker, an excursion up Mount Katahdin, the tallest peak in Maine, is a must. To hike the 5,269-foot peak from Katahdin’s western face, take the short but steep Knife Edge Trail from Pamola to Baxter Peak — the mountain’s highest point. The 1.1-mile scramble is only for the sure-footed, as the trail has steep drop-offs and plenty of loose rocks.
Angel Falls Trail
These ribbony, 90-foot falls are perhaps Maine’s tallest, depending on who you ask — but it’s hard to see how the braided silver cords could be anything but the most photogenic. The trailhead is 18 miles south of Oquossoc on an old railroad grade called Bemis Road. The hike is short — just a mile — but a bit steep, and requires a few stream crossings. The payoff is sublime.
Fire Warden’s Trail
The nearly five-mile Fire Warden’s Trail climbs (sometimes steeply) up Maine’s sixth-highest mountain, which actually boasts six separate peaks. The Bigelow Preserve, where the trail is found, gets less attention (and less traffic) than big parks like Baxter and Acadia, and as such, you shouldn’t have too much company while passing through cool hardwood forests and rocky ridges on the way up.
Mount Battie Trail
This moderate 1.1-mile hike is located just outside Camden, Maine, making it the perfect addition to a morning spent on the waters of Penobscot Bay. The trail can see a lot of daily traffic, but the bird-watching is superb, and you can see the Atlantic Ocean and Maine’s offshore islands from the top.
Table Rock Trail
From Andover, Maine, you can hop on the scenic Table Rock Trail in Grafton Notch State Park. The 2.7-mile loop is rated as hard, due to some steep spots, but you can customize your experience by picking trails that suit your level of experience. The trick is to travel counterclockwise and take the orange-marked trail up and the blue and white trails down. Along the way, you’ll pass natural caves you can duck into.
Mount Kineo rises prominently out of Moosehead Lake, the largest lake in Maine. The mountain is connected to the mainland by a narrow road, but you’ll start your hiking journey at the Rockwood boat launch for a boat trip to the trailhead. From land, brave the Indian Trail to the top and make your final ascent up the converted fire tower for outstanding views of the sprawling lake below.
Great Head Trail
This hike within Acadia National Park traverses along the Atlantic coast while staying within the park’s boundaries. The 1.4-mile Great Head Trail leads hikers over granite rock, near hidden coves, and into lush forests with a start and end at Sand Beach. The loop is rated as moderate and makes for a great addition to a day at the beach or an afternoon spent exploring the wonders of Acadia.
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