We adore summer in Maine. The late light, eating lobster on the deck, sailing, sun, and sand: it’s absolute magic. But starting in September there’s a chill in the air at night, and a crispness starts creeping in. Yes, it’s nearly fall and we can’t help but feel excited. Back to school, woodstove smoke, apples, foliage, Halloween, comfort food, and perfect hiking are all in season. It is an invigorating time and place to be alive. We have lots of favorite trails, secret spots, and tips to make your autumnal adventure in Maine even more amazing.
“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.” John Muir beautifully articulated the joy we find in hiking. There may be no better place than Maine to immerse yourself in the wonder of nature. Our home in Rockland is the perfect jumping-off point for hiking the Midcoast, this ideal region where the mountains meet the sea. If you are traveling to Maine to explore and observe the foliage you shouldn’t miss these spots for walking, meditation, bird watching, and remembering to breathe deeply.
Beech Hill Preserve is the first place we go when we have a free moment, and a hike we tell every visitor about right away. Parking and access close to Route 1 in Rockport, so it’s an easy ride from Camden or Rockland. There are two trailheads, both of them offering easy walks. One path takes less than 15 minutes to walk through wild blueberry fields. The other is closer to 30 minutes on a well-groomed trail through woods. Either way, there are glorious views of Penobscot Bay, excellent birding, and a historic stone cottage at the top. We love to pack a picnic. Bring a sweater in your bag, because it can be chilly in September exposed to the breeze at the top, especially once you stop walking. As long as you’re carrying a daypack, consider bringing binoculars, a book, a travel board game, or sketching supplies. There’s lots of space to enjoy this pretty, picturesque open air scene.
For a walk with more exertion, try the Maiden Cliff trail in Camden, named for young Eleanor French, who fell to her death here in 1862. It’s just a mile uphill but steep, and if you are new to hiking, it will be somewhat strenuous (though not really dangerous if you’re just reasonably careful). Oh, but the view is magnificent: Megunticook Lake is one of those Maine lakes, surrounded by pines, sparkling blue in the sunshine, with bathers and children swimming and playing below (though not at this time of year). Your perspective from the top of the cliff makes you feel a part of everything and yet removed.
There are five main trails and several secondary ones in Camden Hills State Park, some more challenging than others, leading to the tops of Mount Battie, Bald Rock Mountain, Mount Megunticook and other prominences. There are spectacular bay views from several points. For a sublime experience of the awesomeness of nature, hike the steep, half-mile long Mount Battie Trail to the stone tower at the top. It was here that Edna St. Vincent Millay was inspired to compose her famous lines:
All I could see from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood;
I turned and looked another way,
And saw three islands in a bay.
You can hike and camp every season of the year in Camden Hills State Park, but we like it best in fall. There are fewer insects, fewer people, and the air is clearer, so the view goes on forever.
Come to Midcoast Maine for the lobster festival in early August and stay through September, when New England turns up her charm. You may never want to leave.