Coast and mountains provide peepers and photographers ever-changing fall vistas

Posted Sept. 09, 2010, at 10:56 a.m.

Every fall, the Pine Tree State’s sweeping landscapes and weathered landmarks beckon visitors by the carload and the busload. Maine has long been a mecca for artists and photographers searching for unique subjects to sell or simply hang on the living room wall. These favorites are accessible by major highways and are especially scenic in autumn.

Mount Katahdin. Maine’s mile-high treasure, the centerpiece of 202,064-acre Baxter State Park, provides endless visual opportunities. It displays one facet of its personality driving down Route 2 or Interstate 95 from Aroostook County, while showing another side from its southerly exposure in Millinocket and surrounding towns.

Two of my favorite photo stops offer picnic tables and open space to paint or snap away. The Allie J. Cole Scenic Overlook on I-95 north provides an elevated view of the mountain’s peaks and trails, while the South Twin Lake picnic area on Route 11 boasts rippling waters and islands in the foreground.

Moosehead Lake. Visitors never tire of the panorama from Route 15’s Indian Hill on the drive into Greenville. Henry David Thoreau described 40-mile-long lake Moosehead Lake, Maine’s largest, as “… a suitably wild-looking sheet of water, sprinkled with small, low islands, covered with shaggy spruce and other wild wood.”

A drive up Mooshead’s east side to Kokadjo provides vistas, as does the lake’s west side, past Big Squaw Mountain up to the village of Rockwood and Mount Kineo. Also worth a stop are the Route 15 picnic area five miles south of Greenville, located opposite a mountain range, and Low’s Covered Bridge on Route 15 in Guilford-Sangerville.

Deer Isle-Stonington. A quieter alternative to Route 1’s tourist towns is worth the extra time it takes to drive the serpentine roads. A good place to stop and take in the view of the 1939 Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge is on Caterpillar Hill in Sargentville. The long view of Eggemoggin Reach has been captured on canvas and postcards for generations.

A drive across the bridge finds the visitor on Little Deer Isle. Turn right onto Eggemoggin Road and follow it to its end to find Pumpkin Island Light, built in 1854 and now privately owned. Follow Route 15 toward Deer Isle and drive across the stone-studded causeway. The churches, stores, and homes of Deer Isle village are visually striking, as is Stonington, where the view from the hillside Opera House reveals granite-filled Crotch Island and Isle au Haut.

Mount Desert Island. The island’s natural and manmade landmarks are enough to fill books. One that I find myself returning to is the Somesville footbridge, located on Route 102 on the west side of Somes Sound. It’s been featured on calendars and post-cards owing to its simple arched design and flanking buildings.

Another treasure is the Bass Harbor Light, which provides visitors an up-close-and-personal visit. President Obama and his family climbed the light’s 32-foot tower in July and saw the pounding surf and numerous islands. Not far away is Seawall, a spot frequented by artists who can often be seen sitting at their easels sketching the rocky shoreline. In Bar Harbor, toss a coin into the fountain in Agamont Park and take in views of vessels in the harbor.

If time allows, other seacoast villages are worth a visit to set up your easel or tripod. The late 18th-century villages of Blue Hill and Castine, in Hancock County, provide visual ap-peal. Church steeples and colonial homes are favorite topics. A hike up Blue Hill’s namesake is worth the effort and offers a nice view of Blue Hill Bay. Castine’s forts and museums are also recommended as a way to cap off your tour of Eastern Maine’s visual treats.

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