The Best and Most Beautiful Hikes in Maine

The Best and Most Beautiful Hikes in Maine

Trip 101

Maine sits in the northeast of the USA and is blessed with miles of coastline, lots of conserved areas, and over a thousand miles of hiking trails. The dramatic beauty entices outdoor lovers and literally, more than 400 trails are on offer in the state. The not for profit Maine Huts & Trails is useful in providing information for their network of trails which helps to narrow your choices. Let's look at some of the best Maine hiking trails.

1) From Carrabassett Valley to the backcountry Stratton Brook Hut

Start your trail in the town of Carrabassett Valley in Franklin County, Maine. The trail which is about 12 miles long has optional routes and there is a less strenuous climb to Stratton Brook Hut than those who wish to take a shorter, but much steeper route. Ideal for bikers, skiers, hikers, and snowshoers, is the longer one. That's because only cycles really suit the shorter Oak Knoll trail. Oak Knoll is not maintained at all for skiers, anyway.

Start off by following the Narrow Guage Trail east along the Carrabassett River. On the way, you'll come across some stunning views as you slowly climb up Crommet's Trail. Your journey takes you to the upper section of Newton's Revenge. From there, the wide trail meanders up to the Stratton Brook Hut set on a granite outcropping. The moderate difficulty switchback trail brings nice views of Sugarloaf mountain. Before you get to the Stratton Brook Hut, you'll see the Bigelow Range. Expect to hike through forests that include beech and birch trees. On the way, keep an eye out for deer, foxes, and possibly an elusive bobcat.

2) Long Falls Dam Trailhead, Shore Trail to Flagstaff Hut

Flagstaff Hut is another place well worth visiting. It's an ideal destination set on Flagstaff Lake, for families who enjoy the outdoors. You can hike there in winter or summer. In winter you can ski or snowshoe in or even go on a fat bike. Hiking in during summer means once you reach your destination, you can play on the water in kayaks or canoes. One route in is to start off at the Long Falls Dam Trailhead on the Long Falls Dam Rd, New Portland, ME. The Shore Trail is 2.20 miles long and of easy to moderate difficulty.

In summer, the beautiful trail combines a scene of mountains, the crystal waters of Lake Flagstaff, and woodland plants. In late winter, before the spring melt, the hike in is starkly beautiful. The trails to and around Flagstaff Hut are well maintained and for a short family expedition, easy to navigate. On the way, keep an eye out for evidence of the old towns drowned when the dam was constructed. You may also come across signs of beaver, or spot a moose or a bald eagle on your lakeside trail.

3) Three Day Hike-and Stay-guided hut-to-hut expedition

There are so many options to throw together overnight hiking trips in Maine. Guides come at an added cost, but they really bring so much added value to your outdoor vacation. One suggested itinerary is a two night, three-day hike from the Airport Trailhead, up to Poplar Hut. Stopover at Stratton Brook Hut the second night and then return to your starting point on the final day. With the reservation, you can plan the number of people on the hike, ages, and fitness levels. That way, you can choose the more adventurous routes on the trails, or the gentler ones.

The Poplar Hut to Stratton Brook Hut journey follows Larry's Trail until it meets the Narrow Gauge Trail. Finally, you get on the Maine Hut Trail which takes you past Crommet's Outlook on the way to Stratton Hut. On the way down, depending on fitness levels, you could opt for the popular cycling trail, Oak Knoll. In summer, the twists and turns and rocky landscape make for a fun hike. Along the Maine Hut Trail, expect to encounter streams, trees like pine and cedar, birds, moose, and deer.

4) Beech Cliff Loop Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island, ME

Of course, Maine is too full of beautiful hiking areas to feature them all here. However, with summer approaching, a moderate but robust hiking trail might entice you to try the Beech Cliff Loop. The views really are beautiful, but the going can be a bit steep in places for going down the Beach Cliff trail to Echo Lake. Going up is far easier, so take the Canada Trail down to the lake and then head back up Beech Cliff to the carpark.

The Beech Cliff Trail in Acadia National Park is best attempted in late summer going into spring as they sometimes close in early summer. That's to allow an undisturbed period for nesting peregrine falcons. The trail rises to about a 480-ft elevation and usually takes about four hours. A certain level of fitness is required and it's not ideal for children as there are some ladders to climb. However, the view's totally worth it at the junction of Beech Cliff and Canada. You can see over Echo Lake and as far as the Atlantic Ocean. If it's a bit strenuous, you can still get to the viewpoints via the Valley Trail.

5) Route 27 Trailhead to Bigelow via Stratton Brook Hut

You can hike into Bigelow via the Stratton Brook Hut, which is about three miles from the Route 27 Trailhead. It's a nice, short way to start your hike and settle in for the night before dinner's served. There's no need to rush the next day, as you'll journey about 8.2 miles into the Bigelow Preserve. You could have breakfast first, before departing to Horn's Pond where you can camp.

It's a nice place for exploring the Bigelow Mountain ridge and if you're up for it, you could maybe fit in a bit of exploring on the day you arrive. The next morning, you can hike up to Avery Peak before completing the round trip of about 10 miles back to Stratton Brook Hut for a second night there. The next day, you can meander your way back to the Trailhead at Route 27. For more destination guides and accommodation reviews, check out Trip101.