Wilderness camping options in Maine range from primitive trailside campsites and lean-to shelters, to open fields and remote ponds, to island camping. You'll find maintained campsites along such land trails as The Appalachian Trail and Grafton Loop Trail and such water trails as the Allagash Wilderness Waterway and Northern Forest Canoe Trail. Many of Maine's more than half a million acres of Public Reserved Lands offer backcountry recreation and camping in wild and remote locations.
The Appalachian Trail
The rugged 281-mile Maine section of The Appalachian National Trail has backcountry campsites spaced 15 to 20 miles apart. You'll find covered lean-to shelters and tent sites along the eastern section of the trail from Mt. Katahdin to Monson, the central section from Monson to the Bigelow Mountain Range, and the western section from Bigelow to the New Hampshire border. Sites are free and first-come, first-served with the exception of those inside Baxter State Park. You'll need to pay to camp overnight and you must register at one of the three park entrances. Camping reservations can be made in advance and are recommended. You should pack out all trash and store food out of reach from animals on all sections of the trail.
Allagash Wilderness Waterway
Forest rangers maintain campsites on the shores of each lake and pond connected by the 92-mile-long Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW). You are likely to see bald eagles, osprey, moose and deer while on the waterway. Some campsites have trails leading to remnants of logging operations from the early to mid-1900s. Each site has its own picnic table and fire pit. You must register and pay a fee at a North Maine Woods control station or AWW Ranger Station. You must also pack out all trash and food scraps, and use best practices for storing food out of reach from animals.
Camping is allowed at most of the 29 Public Reserved Land units that range in size from 500 to more than 43,000 acres. You should be prepared for and have experience in rugged wilderness camping, as public reserved lands—unlike state parks—are not staffed. Land units set around mountains are destinations for camping and hiking, while other locations feature primitive oceanfront tent sites or remote waterways for canoeing, kayaking or fishing. Camping is free on most lands, but you'll need to pay a use fee at a handful of the units. Large lakes like Moosehead, Flagstaff and the Upper and Lower Richardson Lakes have public islands accessible to campers.
From ocean archipelagos to isles in a lake or river, you'll find many settings for island camping. On salt water, the 375-mile Maine Island Trail from Kittery to Machias Bay has publicly owned islands accessible for camping and day use. Hermit Island Campground overlooking Casco Bay in Phippsburg has 275 campsites located near sandy beaches, on rocky cliffs, along the tidal harbor, and in the forested interior. Warren Island State Park and Duck Harbor Campground on Isle au Haut offer an open ocean camping experience, while Swan Island in the Kennebec River has lean-to shelters and primitive campsites. You can access the island by canoe or kayak and reservations must be made in advance.