“I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house.”[Notebook, Oct. 10, 1842] ― Nathaniel Hawthorne, “ The American Notebooks”
There are few things more stunning in nature than perfect rays of sunshine beaming down through limbs decorated in red, orange and yellow hues of fall. From the western mountains, to The County, to our miles of coastline, it’s hard to find a bad spot to take in the wonders of fall at its peak. To make sure you don’t miss out, we’ve compiled this list to help you in your leaf peeping endeavors. It’s hard to predict precisely when the colors will reach their peak vibrance, but the people at Maine’s Department of Conservation have done their research and their newly redesigned website, www.maine.gov/dacf, and the Maine Foliage Hotline, 1-800-624-6345, can provide more specific details as the season gets underway. Southern Maine (Zone 1) Peak Week: Second Week in October Featured State Parks
- The North Loop Trail at Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park in Freeport presents an exceptionally bright yellow display that normally peaks in mid-October.
- Bradbury Mountain State Park in Pownal provides views of surrounding forests and Casco Bay’s Calendar Islands. The foliage color peaks usually occur in late September to mid-October. The park is a popular place to observe migrating hawks in September.
- The park trails at Ferry Beach State Park in Saco offer a view of the park’s tupelo or blackgum trees, which are uncommon in Maine. The tupelo trees turn a bright crimson and normally reach peak coloration in late September or early October.
Eastern Maine (Mid-Coast & Downeast) (2 & 4) Peak Week: Second Week in October Featured State Parks
- Camden Hills State Park provides spectacular views of fall foliage are available from the auto road to the top of Mt. Battie, as well as from hiking trails on Mt. Megunticook and Bald Rock Mountain.
- The Donnell Pond Management Unit in Townships 9 & 10 SD in Hancock County near Sullivan and Franklin offer hiking trails up Schoodic and Black Mountains that provide vistas on surrounding woodland, lakes and Acadia National Park across Frenchman’s Bay.
Central Maine (Zone 3) Peak Week: Second Week in October Western Maine (Zone 5) Peak Week: Second Week in October Featured State Parks
- Grafton Notch State Park has roadside turnouts, picnic areas and trails offer excellent views of the Mahoosuc Mountains and the Presidential Range. Trails lead to popular lookouts, such as the Eyebrow and Table Rock, and trails and lookouts on the Bureau of Parks and Lands’ Mahoosuc Management Unit.
- Views of the Richardson Lake Management Unit with the White Mountains are spectacular! Find these popular viewing lookouts along Route 17, including the “Height of Land” in Township D.
- The Bigelow Preserve can be viewed from several locations: Route 27/16 in Carrabassett Valley; Cathedral Pines Rest Area in Eustis; the lookout on Eustis Ridge; and from several Bigelow Preserve hiking trails.
- Mt. Blue State Park in Weld provides a panoramic view of Webb Lake and the surrounding mountains. The Center Hill picnic area and trails offer spectacular views of the Tumbledown Mountain Range. Follow signs to Center Hill from Route 156 in Weld Village.
Northern Maine (Zone 6 & 7) Peak Week: Last Week in September Featured State Parks
- Hiking trails at Aroostook State Park in Presque Isle provide popular foliage viewing from Quaggy Joe Mountain.
- Eagle Lake Management Unit located on Route 11 (a designated scenic highway) in Eagle Lake boasts colorful views of fall foliage as well as views of Squa Pan and Mt. Katahdin.
- Check out the Squaw Public Reserved Lands Management Unit, including Little Squaw and Big Squaw Mountains viewed from Route 15 in Greenville. Big Squaw Mountain hiking trails offer a workout for the more seasoned hiker.
- Wassataquoik Management Unit is located in T3 R7 WELS in Penobscot County. The unit is reached by traveling along a scenic gravel road over private land from Route 11 to Whetstone Falls on the East Branch of the Penobscot River, then travel northerly to the unit and Wassataquoik Stream. There are roadside views of the river and stream with rolling topography in the background.