Sunny days and blue skies are in store for this weekend, with temperatures expected to climb into the 60s throughout much of Maine. One great way to embrace this unseasonably warm weather is with a scenic hike.
Before hitting the trails, do some research about where you’d like to go, making sure you know the rules of the property. Once you’ve decided on a hike, leave your hiking itinerary behind with someone who will check in on you and make sure you return safely. It would also be helpful to travel with a plan B hike, just in case the trailhead parking area is full when you arrive.
Be sure to pack plenty of food, water and safety gear — including a headlamp (the days are growing short). Also pack a face covering and remember to wear it in all areas where you aren’t alone, such as trailhead parking areas and any busy overlooks, per Gov. Janet Mills’ recent order. And don’t forget to wear blaze orange to stay visible to hunters. Many hunting seasons are overlapping in Maine right now.
Here are a few hiking trails that are particularly beautiful this time of year.
Shackford Head State Park in Eastport
Way over on the eastern tip of Maine, Shackford Head State Park is a stunning location year round, with bold ocean cliffs and mossy forestland. Explore the park on about 2.5 miles of easy-moderate hiking trails, which lead to overlooks on the coast.
Caribou Bog Conservation Area in Orono
Featuring several ponds, as well as Bangor and Newman hills, the Caribou Bog Conservation Area is made up of hundreds of acres of conserved land in Orono. A vast trail network explores this land, offering a number of loop hikes of different lengths. The property is popular for hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing and wildlife watching. It’s the perfect place for people to spread out and enjoy the wilderness not far from the bustling city of Bangor.
Baker Hill in Sullivan
Located on a preserve that’s owned and maintained by the Frenchman Bay Conservancy, Baker Hill is a 1-mile hike that visits ledges offering open views of the region. The hill is covered with a mature, mixed forest that’s home to a variety of lichens, mosses and giant boulders.
Cameron Mountain in Lincolnville
Located in Camden Hills State Park, Cameron Mountain is one of the lesser-known destinations in the popular park. The small mountain — rising 811 feet above sea level — is covered with low-bush blueberries and other low-lying vegetation, which allows for open views in all directions. The hike to the summit, out and back, is about 5 miles but much of it is on easy, smooth, multi-use trails.
Giant’s Stairs on Bailey Island
Owned and maintained by the Town of Harpswell, the Giant’s Stairs Trail leads to a coastal rock formation that — if you use your imagination — resembles stone stairs suitable for a giant. The wide, smooth trail is about 700 feet long and joins with a trail of the neighboring McIntosh Lot Preserve, which is managed by Harpswell Heritage Land Trust. This allows for a 0.6-mile loop, with the return following Washington Avenue and Ocean Street. This is just one of many easy hiking trails in the Harpswell area.
Settlement Quarry in Stonington
An old granite quarry in the island town of Stonington that was last active in 1980, Settlement Quarry is now located on a preserve that’s owned and maintained by the Island Heritage Trust. The two trails established at the old quarry are less than 0.5 mile each and travel through the woods to scenic overlooks where granite was once quarried from the land.
Laurie’s Ledge near Greenville
If looking for something more remote and challenging, consider a hike to Laurie’s Ledge of Indian Mountain near Greenville. This lesser-known hike travels through a mature forest to stunning views of the Moosehead Region. Out and back, the hike is 3.4 miles and includes some steep sections. The adventure involves navigating gravel logging roads.
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.