Start this loop in Skowhegan, a Native American name that means “A Place to Watch” Skowhegan is a quintessential rural Maine community, where you can immerse yourself in the flavor of a real hometown. From there, take Route 150 to Athens, then pick up route 151 east through Hartland and north through the pristine Maine woods and the quaint town of Newport.
Head up Route 7 to Dexter and Dover-Foxcroft, where Peaks Kenny State Park offers a great picnic area and beach on Sebec Lake. Head west on Route 6 to Guilford, stopping to see the town’s covered bridge.
Follow Route 6/15 north to Greenville, nestled on the shores of 40-mile-long Moosehead Lake. The area’s tourism history dates to the 1890s, when you could take a train from New York City directly to Greenville to enjoy the lake and the grand hotel at the base of Mount Kineo. Trains to the region are a thing of the past, but this has not decreased the area’s popularity—Moosehead Lake provides swimming, boating and fishing grounds to a host of families and sportsmen and women.
As you might guess from its name, the Moosehead area also boasts a large population of moose; local guides offer Moose Safaris via float plane, canoe or kayak. During your stay at one of the area’s lodges or inns, visit the S/S Katahdin, a gracefully restored 1914 steamship that now serves as a floating museum. The "Kate" also offers scenic tours of Moosehead Lake (through September). From the Lake’s western shore, you can also explore majestic Mount Kineo, where you can hike, play a round of golf on a scenic 9-hole course, or just wander the grounds of the once-grand Mount Kineo House.
From Greenville, continue north on Route 6/15 to Jackman, where you can canoe the popular (and very beautiful) 42-mile Moose River Bow Trip, which begins and ends at the same point. From Jackman, take Route 201—a designated Old Canada Road-National Scenic Byway—south to The Forks, where the tree-lined banks of the Kennebec River offers some of the most beautiful fall foliage in the state. Several local rafting companies provide gear, expertly trained guides, lodging and meals. (Ask about special packages for families with children.) The Forks is also home to 96-foot Moxie Falls, accessible via a worthwhile half-mile walk.
The drive south on Route 201 to Bingham follows one of Maine’s Scenic Highways—made particularly brilliant this time of the year by the spectacular fall color. This recent addition to the National Scenic Highways list boasts unparalleled views of the Kennebec River and surrounding mountains and is not to be missed this fall.
Follow this route back to Skowhegan, where you can refresh yourself at Lake George Park, stop by the Skowhegan Fairgrounds (where the oldest state fair in the country takes place each summer), or view the Skowhegan Indian. At over 62 feet tall and standing on a 12-foot base, it’s the largest sculpture of an Indian in the world.