From the coast to the foothills and mountains to the North Woods, Maine’s natural beauty and abundant wildlife beckons. For outdoor enthusiasts desiring to take to the woods and explore on foot for the day, more than 1,000 miles of trails will get you there. From easy to moderate to challenging, hikers will find a suitable trail and scenic destination for an enjoyable day’s outing.
Mount Katahdin rises dramatically up out of the woods of Baxter State Park to reach a lofty 5,267 feet in elevation, a majestic alpine monolith that dominates the surrounding landscape for miles. A dozen footpaths scale the flanks of the sprawling mountain—Maine’s highest peak—and offer the some of the finest day hiking in the state. Besides Katahdin’s trails there are more than 200 miles of footpaths in the park, leading hikers to mountain peaks big and small, waterfalls and streams, lakes and ponds. Bird and animal life abounds, and in particular, there are moose aplenty in the 210,000-acre wilderness preserve.
A portion of the 2,175-mile Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine extends 267 miles from the Mahoosuc Mountains to the summit of Mount Katahdin. Along the sinuous route there are an almost limitless number of day hiking possibilities. The high alpine reaches of the Bigelow Mountains and the peaks of Saddleback are popular spots. The rugged Barren-Chairback and Whitecap Ranges challenge foot travelers. Easier and less traveled stretches are the Carry Ponds, Sabbathday Pond and along the Piscataquis River in Horseshoe Canyon.
More than 100 miles of well-maintained trails provide access to the mountain peaks of Acadia National Park, where hikers are rewarded with grand views over Mount Desert Island and the Atlantic Ocean. Scramble over the ocean-side pink granite cliffs and ledges, and hike through deep gorges, beneath dark green canopies of black spruce, along tumbling brooks and beside little ponds tucked away in serene settings. Eagles and peregrine falcons can often be seen soaring overhead, and if you look close you may spy seals and whales swimming offshore.
More than a half million acres of state-owned public lands around Maine are open for hiking. Bradbury Mountain, Camden Hills, Grafton Notch and Mount Blue State Parks offer miles of wonderful walking for a few hours to an entire day. The vast network of Public Reserved Lands, including Bald Mountain, Cutler Coast, Donnell Pond and Nahmakanta offer a primitive hiking experience where plenty of quiet solitude may be enjoyed amid the craggy peaks, cool forests and pretty ponds.
The 45,000 acres of the Maine section of the White Mountain National Forest is home to dozens of trails that lead to lightly-traveled mountaintops like Caribou, Speckled and East Royce Mountains, which rise above the rugged environs of Evans Notch. Day hikers can choose from a range of fun walks, from the easy climb of The Roost to the challenging traverse of Red Rock, Butters and Durgin Mountains in the Caribou-Speckled Mountain Wilderness.
Over 90 land trusts work hard to protect and preserve the beautiful lands of Maine’s coast, woods and mountains. Many of these little-known trust properties hold amazing hiking gems, like the mile of bold coast at La Verna Preserve, the scenic views from Blue Hill, and the bird life and history of Salt Bay.