Hiking is an excellent way to view Maine’s fall foliage in all its glory.
Picture walking along a forest path with sun filtering down through a colorful canopy of red, orange and yellow. The air is fresh, comfortably cool and mosquito-free. Ahead, the trail begins to climb, leading to an overlook that offers a wide open view of the vibrant landscape.
Most hiking trails in Maine feature plenty of colorful trees in the fall, but some trails are just a little more spectacular than others in terms of how well they show off the season. The following are just a few Maine hiking trails that feature trees, bushes and other plants that display some of the brightest fall colors, making them great locations for leaf peeping. Click on the links to learn more about each hike.
McPhetres Farm Forest in Veazie
The 25-acre McPhetres Farm Forest is a certified tree farm in the national American Tree Farm System, which means that the property meets certain standards and the landowner — in this case, the Town of Veazie — is committed to sustainable forestry practices. On the property, a network of trails lead visitors through a mixed forest that features a wide variety of trees, including white ash, sugar maple, beech, red pine, white oak and a stand of towering white pines that are more than 100 years old. Educational signs are located throughout the trail network so people can learn about forest management and natural features. The trails in the system add up to about 1.5 miles total, and the forest is fairly hilly.
Bald Bluff Mountain in Amherst
With granite outcroppings that provide stunning views of the region, Bald Bluff Mountain rises 1,011 feet above sea level and features a 2.2-mile hike. Much of the forestland viewed from the top of the mountain is dominated by deciduous trees, including oaks and maples, which turn bright colors throughout the autumn. In addition, much of the trail climbs through a deciduous forest, where hikers can enjoy colorful leaves overhead and underfoot. Bald Bluff is one of three hiking destinations in Amherst Mountains Community Forest, a state-owned preserve that covers nearly 5,000 acres and contains six remote ponds.
Mount Pisgah in Winthrop
A popular hiking spot, Mount Pisgah is located within an 800-acre conservation area. The property features two hiking trails, as well as an old gravel road, all of which lead to the top of the mountain. At the summit stands a 60-foot historic fire lookout tower that hikers can climb for an unobstructed 360-degree view of the region. This open view is especially stunning when fall foliage is at its peak. Also, you may spot some colorful trees long before you reach the top of the mountain. The Tower Trail, for example, passes by some old, gnarly sugar maple trees, a species that’s known to display some of the brightest fall colors. A loop hike using the two hiking trails totals 2 miles.
Davidson Nature Preserve in Vassalboro
The 97-acre Davidson Nature Preserve features winding paths that visit blueberry fields, forests and wetlands. Lining the edges of the fields are a variety of deciduous trees, including maples and oaks. In addition to the trees displaying colors, many low-lying plants in the fields show off bright hues in the fall. For example, the many blueberry plants on the property turn bright red. Altogether, the trail network is less than a mile in length, allowing visitors to travel slow and take in the beauty of nature. This preserve is an excellent birding location as well, so keep an eye out for the many birds that remain in Maine year round, such as dark-eyed juncos, chickadees, woodpeckers and owls.
North Traveler Mountain in Baxter State Park
Topping off at 3,144 feet above sea level, North Traveler Mountain is a part of a long, curving mountain range in the north end of Baxter State Park. This challenging hike — measuring 5.6 miles out and back — offers open views much of the way. The landscape includes plenty of fall color, especially around the edges of Upper and Lower South Branch ponds. The first leg of the hike travels through a mixed forest that includes plenty of colorful trees, such as red maples. In addition, not far from the summit, the trail travels through a whimsical stand of white birch trees, which display bright yellow leaves in the fall.
Pleasant Pond Mountain near Caratunk
The long ridge of Pleasant Pond Mountain rises to the east of Pleasant Pond, a deep body of water known for its crystal clear waters. Located on the famous Appalachian Trail, the mountain features a short but challenging day hike that totals 2.8 miles, out and back. Traveling through a mixed forest including oak, maple, birch, white pine, hemlock and balsam fir trees, the trail starts out gradually then becomes steep. Atop the mountain are several rocky overlooks that offer unobstructed views of the region, which includes an abundance of colorful trees in the fall. The summit of the mountain is 2,447 feet above sea level, and the best viewpoint is just beyond it.
Ferry Beach State Park in Saco
Ferry Beach State Park is a 117-acre coastal park that’s known for its sandy beach. The park is also home to a swamp filled with tupelo trees, also known as black gum trees, which are rare this far north. Tupelo trees are known to display some of the most vibrant fall foliage, with their leaves often turning bright red. A bog boardwalk travels through the tupelo swamp, allowing visitors to be completely surrounded by these colorful trees. This 0.4-mile Tupelo Trail is a part of a small system of easy trails that total about 1.5 miles.
Bald Rock Mountain in Lincolnville
Rising about 1,200 feet above sea level in Camden Hills State Park, Bald Rock Mountain features rock outcroppings near the summit that offer breathtaking views of Penobscot Bay. The hike starts out on a wide, gravel multi-use trail that is lined on both sides by a variety of tall trees, including some old oaks. The multi-use trail leads to a more traditional hiking trail, which travels uphill to the summit. The hike is 3.5 miles out and back, with 2.5 miles of that being on the multi-use trail. If you’d rather not climb a rocky, root-filled mountain trail, the system of smooth multi-use trails in the park is great for viewing fall foliage by foot or bike.
Rumford Whitecap Mountain in Rumford
With a long, granite ridge that tops off at 2,214 feet above sea level, Rumford Whitecap Mountain offers a moderately challenging day hike to panoramic views of the mountainous wilderness of western Maine and New Hampshire. Starting out in a quiet mixed forest, the hike is a fairly continuous climb, crossing several tumbling brooks on the way to the mountain’s open summit. This is an especially beautiful fall foliage hike due to the variety of trees along the trail and the open views at the top. The hike is about 5 miles total.
Aislinn Sarnacki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @1minhikegirl, and Instagram: @actoutdoors. Her guidebooks “Family Friendly Hikes in Maine,” “Maine Hikes Off the Beaten Path” and “Dog-Friendly Hikes in Maine” are available at local bookstores and wherever books are sold.