Maine

9 Beautiful Spots to See Fall Colors in Maine

by Sarah Lamagna
Updated September 20, 2022

maine fall foliage destinations
Fall in Acadia National Park. Photo: Skyler Ewing

Ninety percent of Maine is covered in forest which means endless opportunities to view peak fall foliage.

There is no right or wrong way to view the autumn foliage of Maine. Maine is known as the Pine Tree State but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of fall colors to experience. Take one of the countless roadtrips across the state if you’d rather view the foliage out a car window. Or take a hike to get away from the crowds and into nature. Even the waterfalls that dot the landscape have gorgeous autumn colors that frame its beauty along the rocky edges.

Regardless of your mode of transportation, check out some of the best possibilities to view fall foliage with the recommendations below.

A Quick Note About Maine Fall Foliage

Maine, along with every other place on the planet, has seen the effects of climate change up close. As such, peak viewing time and the vibrancy of peak fall foliage are dependent on both climate change and the current year’s weather patterns. Warm, sunny days followed by cool nights are ideal conditions for colors to really pop. If it’s an especially wet summer, fall foliage will be later than usual; if it’s unusually dry, it’ll be earlier. Due to Maine’s northern location, fall tends to be earlier than most other states within the nation.

The large swaths of forests in Maine make for dramatic and vibrant fall foliage. The state has the typical New England hardwood forests that are a mix of oaks, maples, birches, and beeches. Each tree brings a different set of colors to the autumn months. What makes Maine stand apart from the rest are the blankets of coniferous pines and spruces that are scattered throughout creating a rainbow of colors during the fall.

For those wanting to know the exact times to check out peak foliage, the Maine government provides updates weekly updates on their website every year. After double checking the dates on the website, check out the endless spectrum of color with the recommendations below.

Related Read: 10 Best Spots to See Fall Colors in New Hampshire

1. Acadia National Park

maine fall colors - acadia natl park
Photo: Jerry Whaley

Why you should go: there’s a reason it was made into a national park — it’s devastatingly beautiful.

  • Location: Bar Harbor
  • Peak foliage: mid- to late-October

How could Acadia National Park not be on this list? Some of the most spectacular and dramatic views are found within the many acres and trails within its boundaries. Acadia has no shortage of amazing hikes but the best ones to view fall colors. If you are short on time, the Jordan Pond path or the Beehive are great options to see the best views.

You can also grab a bike and ride the carriage roads across the park. These provide flat, gravel paths that bring you through enchanting forests and unique arched bridges. It’s one of the most stunning ways to view the fall colors in Acadia.

PRO TIP: go during the week and early in the morning for the least amount of crowds. If you view the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain, just know that you will not be alone.

2. Blueberry Ledges

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Ashley Magnuson (@ashmaggs)

Why you should go: uh, for the blueberries of course. 

  • Location: Millinocket
  • Peak foliage: early- to mid-October

By the time you head to northern Maine for the fall colors, blueberry season will be well over. They usually peak in August but there might be some leftovers on the Blueberry Ledges Trail in Baxter State Park. The trail to Blueberry Ledges can be done one of two ways. If you start in the northern section, the trail is much longer, and the views aren’t very spectacular. But start from the southern end and it only takes two miles to make it to the ledges.

When you see a large rock cairn, you veer left to head down toward the river. Make sure to stay on the rock and do not walk on any of the soil. Here, the soil is shallow and easily trampled and destroyed. It’s also ideal soil for blueberries which are scattered throughout the landscape here. In the fall, blueberry bushes turn a bright red and cast a stunning backdrop against the rushing waters and the blue skies.

PRO TIP: go during the day when wildlife is less active. Bears frequent the area in the early mornings. Always carry bear spray when adventuring in the backcountry in Maine.

Related Read: Where to View the Best Fall Foliage in New England

3. The Town of Bethel

maine fall colors - bethel
Photo: Jon Bilous

Why you should go: easy access to a few different scenic byways. 

  • Location: Bethel
  • Peak foliage: mid-October

The quaint town of Bethel is a great basecamp for those in western Maine. It sits on the border of New Hampshire and clear views of the Presidential Range of the White Mountains. Grafton Notch State Park isn’t too far either and a beautiful place to view the fall colors. The rugged terrain in the state park allows visitors to up their adventure skills and hike some of the hardest sections on the Appalachian Trail.

The town itself should not be missed either. Oaks and maples dot the main street complete with a charming white chapel. Just north of the city is the Sunday River Covered Bridge — a quintessential New England backdrop in the autumn. You can also view the colors on the Androscoggin River by canoe or kayak or hike the Recreation Trail along the shores.

4. Baxter State Park

Photo: Shutterstock

Why you should go: it’s the highest possible view of the surrounding fall colors in Maine. 

  • Location: Millinocket
  • Peak foliage: early- to mid-October

Named after one of Maine’s governors, Baxter State Park is home to the highest point in the state. It also happens to be the end of the Appalachian Trail. If you end up hiking up Mount Katahdin during this time of year, you will likely encounter many thru-hikers finishing up their 2,000+-mile journey from Georgia.

The park encompasses over 200,000 acres of forest land and mountains. This means uninterrupted views of gorgeous fall colors from every possible angle. The dozens of rivers, ponds, and lakes also mean plenty of opportunities for recreating on water. Moose and bear are known residents in this park so always be on the lookout for evidence of wildlife and keep your guard up.

Related Read: 11 Best Glamping Destinations in Maine

5. Rangeley Lakes Scenic Byway

maine fall colors - rangeley lakes scenic byway
Photo: Sean Xu

Why you should go: you don’t have to leave your car to get incredible views.

  • Location: Madrid to Rangeley to Oquossoc to Houghton
  • Peak foliage: mid-October

The Rangeley Lakes Scenic Byway traverses 52 miles through central-western Maine. You can start at either end and make a loop. The best views are found just around Rangeley Lake including the Height of Land located on Route 17 south of the lake. Here you can see for miles on a clear day and is known as one of the best views within the state. Bonus – all you have to do is pull over for this incredible view.

PRO TIP: take as many side trips as you can. There are so many hidden gems along the byway including Coos Canyon, Rangeley Lakes State Park, Oquossoc village, and Angel Falls.

6. Moosehead Lake

maine fall colors - Moosehead Lake
Photo: Dan Lewis

Why you should go: climb a mountain only accessed by boat. 

  • Location: Greenville
  • Peak foliage: late-September to early-October

Moosehead Lake is the largest lake in Maine and also the largest mountain lake in the eastern United States. It gets its name from looking similar to an antlered moose if looking from a bird’s eye view. But it doesn’t go unnoticed that moose also outnumber humans three to one in this part of the state.

You can explore the area by boat or by foot but why not do both? The trail up Mount Kineo can only be accessed by boat and gives one of the best views of the lake. The grueling three-mile hike has a steep ascent to get to the observation tower at its summit. It’s well worth the burning thigh muscles, though.

Related Read: 12 Best National Parks to Visit in October

7. The Town of Freeport

maine fall colors - ll bean freeport
Photo: Ritu Manoj Jethani

Why you should go: stock up on outdoor supplies at L.L.Bean’s flagship store. 

  • Location: Freeport
  • Peak foliage: mid- to late-October

In the southern Maine town of Freeport, you will find some of the friendliest people in the state. The downtown is chock full of outlet stores including the L.L. Bean flapship store (go see the gigantic Bean boot) among other retailers. It’s also a haven for classic Maine dining and exceptional water views. Come during their annual Fall Festival and the thousands of pumpkins that adorn the downtown.

Head just outside of downtown and take in the views of either Bradbury Mountain State Park or Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park. The former provides beautiful views of Casco Bay and the surrounding forests. The latter is a great to view the migrating birds and take a leisurely stroll along the water. You can also check out Maine’s only “desert” – a natural phenomenon made up of glacial silt deposits.

8. Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Emily Grace (@emily_grace_1226)

Why you should go: make a fairy house while soaking in the fall foliage. 

  • Location: Boothbay
  • Peak foliage: mid- to late-October

The paths throughout Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens are some of the most enchanting and magical places in the state. World-renowned artist, Thomas Dambo, has erected several of his famous troll pieces throughout the gardens. The trails are perfect for families seeking a bit of whimsy in their adventures.

Each troll is a “Guardian of the Seed” and represent a different part of a plant. Roskva represents the trunk or stem of a tree or plant while Lilja holds the scent of the flowers. Birk represents the roots, Soren — the branches, and Gro stands for the leaves. Each one teaches visitors about the importance of saving our planet and leaving a place better than you found it.

Related Read: 10 Scenic Oceanfront Campgrounds in Maine

9. Town of Fort Kent

maine fall colors - fort kent
Photo: Shutterstock

Why you should go: best chance at seeing moose. 

  • Location: Fort Kent
  • Peak foliage: late-September to early-October

The small town of Fort Kent sits at the confluence of the Saint John and Fish Rivers. This rural northern town is deeply rooted in agriculture and forest production but also welcomes recreational visitors with open arms. And since it sits in the heart of the North Woods, the recreational opportunities are endless.

The North Woods are the largest territory of undeveloped land east of the Mississippi River and covers approximately 3.5 million acres. Many of the trees are coniferous, meaning they don’t change color in the fall, but there are acres upon acres of deciduous trees that turn vibrant hues of orange, yellow, and red in the autumn too.

Fort Kent also signals the end of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail and is likely most well-known for the Olympic biathlete training center, the Fort Kent Outdoor Center. This means whether you find your adventure in the water or on land, Fort Kent has it all.

Explore More in Maine

Get epic travel ideas delivered to your inbox with Weekend Wanderer, our newsletter inspiring thousands of readers every week.


Seen in: Fall Colors, Maine, New England, Northeast

Find your next adventure

Sign up for Weekend Wanderer and join thousands of readers getting epic travel ideas weekly.

Related Posts