Known as Vacationland, Maine is one of the top destinations in the United States. I’ve lived in a lot of places in my life, and every time I come back home, the stark contrast between where I had been and Maine is quite apparent. The first thing I notice is the air. There is a certain organic flora that can only be enjoyed in the country’s cleanest places.
With 41 square miles per person, Maine’s woodlands are expansive. The interior is speckled by over 6,000 lakes and ponds, including a number of powerful rivers. Maine’s terrain was carved out by glaciers that moved over the land and scarred the tops of mountains, exposing the underlying bedrock. Dropping sediment as they receded, these ice sheets interrupted drainage patterns, flooding large areas (now lakes, ponds, and rivers) while leaving random outcrops of stone, sand, and gravel.
These geological attributes create a picturesque scene as you explore the backcountry. The landscape inspires an awesome curiosity that allows you to marvel at and respect nature. There are countless opportunities to discover such a curiosity from the mountainous interior to the choppy waters of the North Atlantic. Here are five places you can begin your journey:
1) Acadia National Park
Maine’s coast is patchwork of long running beaches, many estuaries and marshlands, including rockbound and pebbly stretches in between. Mount Desert is most recognized by Cadillac Mountain, the tallest on the Atlantic coast. As it is one of eight mountains that make up the parks interior, you can expect varying terrain and majestic views from all around.
The island has gone widely unchanged, appearing as it did when it was first inhabited by the Wabanaki tribe. Thanks to the Department of Interior and the Rockefeller Family, the park has hundreds of trails and carriage roads which allow you to explore the pristine landscape. From Thunder Hole to Isle au Haut, Acadia National Park is a true gem.
Plan your visit on www.nps.gov/acad/index.htm.
2) Baxter State Park
Baxter State Park was the vision of Percival Baxter, a Maine governor who wanted to preserve a place “available for those who love nature and are willing to walk and make an effort to get close to nature.” Its hiking trails traverse a large area.
Visitors are encouraged to come equipped with sturdy footwear; most paths are extremely rustic and the rocky ledges are ensnared with exposed tree roots. Exploring the park is challenging hike for most, but it becomes a highly rewarding experience when you reach the summit of Mount Katahdin, the tallest mountain in Maine.
Plan your visit on www.baxterstateparkauthority.com.
3) Mt. Blue State Park
Mount Blue State Park is located just 10 miles away from the White Mountain National Forest in western Maine. The parks main attraction, Tumbledown Mountain boasts trails for every level of hiker, expert to amateur.
At 3,000 feet above sea level, every trail is a challenge, though some require a bit more endurance. Once you reach the summit you can see for miles around. Tumbledown Pond is among the best of the hikes fringe benefits. This cold spring-fed pool reaches astonishing depths, comparative to its circumference. Teeming with stocked trout, the pond is healthy and clean, perfect for a cooling dip after an exerting trek. As it is a popular place to camp, there are many sites with stone fire pits. Remember there are no amenities (no toilets, water wells, electricity, or roads), so if you have not been endowed with backwoods camping skills, you might want to make it a day trip.
Plan your visit on www.stateparks.com/mount_blue.html.
4) Sebago Lake State Park
For those looking for a little more accommodation on their camping adventure, the Sebago Lake State Park is the place for you. Its family-friendly camping area is equipped with electricity and running water; it also features fire pits and built-in barbeques.
Though it is has ample modern enrichments, the park still remains a protected land that is untainted. Watch the boats navigate the Songo Locks (the only one of its kind in Maine) or explore the walking trails along Crooked River which feature rope swings throughout. The shade of giant pine and fir trees grace the extensive beaches along Sebago Lake (Maine’s cleanest and second largest). The sandy shores sweep in and out of cozy inlets, as visitors take pause and admire Mother Nature at her best.
Plan your visit on Visit Maine – Sebago Lake State Park.
5) Fort Williams Park
Located in Cape Elizabeth in southern Maine, Fort Williams Park invites thousands of tourists each year. As the home to Portland Headlight, the first lighthouse in the United States (commissioned 1791 by George Washington), Fort Williams is very important to the history of America.
From 1899 to 1963, the surrounding land was used as a military post which was highly valued in World War II. Today, the fort has been deactivated, though the bunkers and fortifications remain.
There are deep coves and basins that churn with the raging waters of the North Atlantic as they crash onto the coastal rocks. The park’s many walking paths invite sightseers, bicyclists, and outdoor enthusiasts throughout the year.
Portland Headlight continues to warn sailors as they navigate the rocky coast into Portland Harbor; on days of low visibility you can hear the sound of fog horns resonating out, over the sea. When you visit Fort Williams, be sure to bring your camera as Portland Headlight is the most photographed lighthouse in the world.
Teddy Burrage is a travel writer and Portland, Maine native. He encourages you to visit his state and behold all of its unique treasures. He also suggests ExcellentHotels.com for hotel bookings in Portland, or anywhere else your adventures may lead you!
(Images courtesy of Sterling College, Jesiehart, Chis Dag , Smiley_River)