Maples and Mountains
You can begin this breathtaking tour by taking Route 11 to the Naples Causeway on Route 302 in Naples. Naples is the "Heart of the Lakes Region" with eight lakes and ponds surrounding the town. Summer visitors are drawn to the bustling Causeway offering many fun activities by day and spectacular sunsets and bustling nightlife at many local restaurants and pubs.
Nearby, Sebago Lake remains one of the State’s most visited destinations, especially for families with children. Visit Sebago Lake State Park and enjoy the white-sand beach, crystal-clear lake and picnic & camping area. Or, for a longer visit, stay at one of the grand old lakeside resorts or cottages. While in Naples, board the Songo River Queen for scenic cruises on Long Lake. Passengers are often rewarded with deer, moose and loon sightings. Cruises run through the end of September.
From Naples, continue north on 302 to Bridgton, where you can ascend Pleasant Mountain via Shawnee Peak Ski Resort’s chairlifts to mountain bike, hike and enjoy magnificent views of the area’s fifty lakes. And, if antiquing is high on your list of things to do, there are plenty of shops along the way through which to browse.
From the mountain, travel east along Route 302 to the intersection of Route 117. Take 117 north to South Paris. From South Paris, head north on Route 26 to Bethel, a classic New England village, complete with a village green, stately clapboard homes and a community of friendly locals. Thanks to the introduction of train service in 1851, this sleepy mountainside town gained almost instant notoriety as a haven for the city-weary. Grand resorts, hotels and spas offered fresh air, exercise and the promise of better mental health to urban dwellers from Montreal, New York and Boston.
Some of these elegant hotels remain, and offer a wonderful respite for the visitors of today. Beautiful inns in Bethel proper, as well as the Sunday River Ski Resort just outside of town, provide wonderful hiking, biking and golf opportunities amidst some of the most breathtaking fall mountain views in the East. While you’re in Bethel, make sure to explore nearby Grafton Notch State Park (take Route 2 east, then Route 26 north), where you can take short but worthwhile hikes to Screw Auger Falls, Mother Walker Falls and Moose Cave. In addition, the nearby White Mountain National Forest offers several spectacular hikes to scenic overlooks of the surrounding region. Also take note of nearby Newry’s covered bridge—the subject of so many drawings and paintings, it’s known locally as the Artist’s Bridge.
Take a scenic drive through one of the most spectacular mountain passes in New England: take Route 2 west to Gilead, then head south on 113 through the White Mountain National Forest to Evans Notch, which offers magnificent foliage panoramas of the White Mountains.
In Stow, take a scenic side trip by heading east around Kezar Lake, a breathtaking lake nestled at the foot of the Presidential Range. Once back in Stow, head south on 113 to historic Fryeburg, where you can canoe the meandering, sandy-bottomed Saco River on an organized group trip or a leisurely day paddle. While you’re in Fryeburg, visit the scenic 1857 Hemlock Covered Bridge. If you time your tour right, take in the Fryeburg Fair. This is agricultural Maine at its best, with livestock, food, rides and exhibitions. Enjoy nightly harness racing and big-name entertainment.
Complete your trip by following Route 302 back to Naples and relax on the deck of a restaurant overlooking the causeway and Long Lake.