With rocky peaks, deep forests, and 3,478 miles of winding, tidal coastline, Maine offers grand hiking adventures ranging from afternoon rambles to bucket list backcountry treks. Hit these stunning trails and discover remote lighthouses, sheer ridges, and for a change of pace, great swaths of wild blueberries!
1 – Beehive Trail
Distance: 2 miles** Rating: Difficult ***Location: Acadia National Park*
With granite cliffs that pitch steeply towards Penobscot Bay, Beehive Mountain looms over Acadia’s surf-pounded coast. The trail itself is half the drama—hikers climb great stone staircases, traverse the sheer face on narrow ledges, and climb straight up the rock using iron rungs set into the mountain. Views from the top are soulfully satisfying, reaching out east to the deep Atlantic and west to piney forests.
2 – Knife Edge Trail
Distance: 1.1 miles** Rating: Difficult ***Location: Baxter State Park*
South-to-north Appalachian Trail through hikers end their 2,190-mile trek at the summit of Mt. Katahdin (5,268’) but the mountain’s most challenging scrambling is still to come. A jumbled spine of rock stretches from Katahdin to Pamola Peak (4,919’). Following the Knife Edge trail means picking your way from boulder to boulder on class 3 terrain with slopes that sweep away to both sides, making it one of the more exhilarating (and vertigo-inducing) walks in the northeast.
3 – The Bigelow Range Traverse
Distance: 16.3 miles** Rating: Difficult ***Location: Bigelow Mountain Preserve*
Katahdin might be Maine’s headliner, but ticking off the six rugged summits in the Bigelow Range is a rite of passage for New England hikers. The traverse is one of the most challenging sections of the Appalachian Trail. It dips in and out of conifer forests then follows a series of rock cairns across the wind-whipped alpine zone.
4 – Cadillac Mountain South Ridge Trail
Distance: 3.5 miles** Rating: Moderate ***Location: Acadia National Park*
The highest point on the North Atlantic seaboard, 1,530’ Cadillac Mountain gets America’s first morning sun for half of the year. This route to the summit takes its time, sloping through coniferous forests and wildflower patches before emerging onto a bare, rocky ridge. Even sharing the mountaintop with a parking lot doesn’t diminish the views of islands and inland peaks stretching to the horizon.
5 – West Quoddy Head Coastal Trail
Distance: 1.3 miles** Rating: Easy ***Location: Quoddy Head State Park*
Follow this spectacular path to the easternmost point in the continental United States, West Quoddy Head Lighthouse. The trail passes dramatic vertical rifts in the gabbro rock and a series of outcroppings that get pounded with swells from the Bay of Fundy. Hike this trail in the summer to spot finback, minke, and humpback whales along the way.
6 – Blueberry Mountain
Distance: 2.4 miles** Rating: Easy ***Location: Weld, Maine*
This gentle, 2,890’ peak has far less traffic than the summits in Baxter State Park and Acadia National Park—which is just fine by the 419 residents of Weld, who make the trek to the peak each summer to feast on wild Maine blueberries. Bring a bucket to stock up for pies or just eat “bear style”—lie beneath one of the low-lying bushes and use your fingers to rake the berries straight into your mouth.
7 – 100 Mile Wilderness
Distance: 99.4 miles** Rating: Difficult ***Location: Monson*
The very name is an invitation to adventure. The most remote section on the Appalachian Trail passes through wilderness lakes, waterfalls, peaks and plenty of Maine’s famous mud. Ropy-legged Appalachian Trail hikers often tackle this section in five days as they rush towards Baxter State Park, but plan for an 8 to 10-day trip to enjoy the rugged scenery, swim in mountain lakes, and spot lumbering moose.
8 – Mount Megunticook Trail
Distance: 2.9 miles** Rating: Moderate ***Location: Camden Hills State Park*
Despite a modest elevation of 1,385’, flat-topped Mount Megunticook towers above the coast, where the peaks of Camden Hills State Park rise straight out of the rocky shoreline. Tag the summit marker at the top, but take a break at the Ocean Lookout ledges. With a pair of binoculars you can see three-masted schooners sail in and out of the picture-perfect harbor, spot the scatter shot islands of Penobscot Bay, and possibly see Mt. Washington on the western horizon.
9 – Jordan Pond Shore Path
Distance: 3.2 miles** Rating: Easy ***Location: Acadia National Park*
Retreating glaciers raked Jordan Pond out of hard granite, leaving behind a long, deep, tarn surrounded by bare peaks and forested saddles. This easy-going shoreline path is especially dramatic in autumn, when bright deciduous trees blend with brooding pines. The highlight of any hike around Jordan Pond is a post-workout visit to the Jordan Pond House, where steaming popovers come with homemade strawberry jam and sweet butter.
10 – Mt. Kineo
Distance: 1.4 miles** Rating: Easy ***Location: Moosehead Lake*
Hop a pontoon boat in tiny Rockwood, Maine to reach the base of Mt. Kineo, whose rhyolite cliffs drop into the deepest part of Moosewood Lake. Follow Indian Trail along the edge of the cliff—Native Americans traveled long distances to to harvest stone for arrowheads and tools here—then climb the creaking, old, fire tower at the summit.
Originally written by RootsRated.
Featured image provided by Madeleine Deaton