The Best Family Hikes in Maine (that most people haven't heard of)
Maine is home to some of the most legendary terrain in the world. From the rugged western mountains to the rocky Atlantic coastline, there’s adventure to be had just about everywhere in our great State. And there are few adventures more simple and satisfying than a good old-fashioned family hike.
We’ve rounded up a few of our favorites: no Olympic medal moves required here; just rewarding and scenic treks through some of Maine’s coolest (and least famous) landscapes.
Tibbett Island (Addison, Washington County) Okay, technically this is a hike and a paddle. Tibbett Island is 500 feet offshore in the Gulf of Maine; a quick, easy paddle from the Addison town park. In a demonstration of true Yankee ingenuity, local farmers used to keep herds of sheep on the island; with plenty of wild berries, lush pastures, and zero wolves, it made a lot of sense. The sheep now live a little further inland, but the cranberry bogs, rugged pines, and ocean views remain.
Larry’s Trail (Carrabassett Valley, Franklin County)
If you follow the Carrabassett River all the way down the Narrow Gauge and up past Poplar Falls, you’ll find yourself at Poplar Hut: one of four off-the-grid lodges along the 80 mile trail system of Maine Huts & Trails. Crashing waterfalls and secluded swimming holes make this trail a favorite; but kids will also love exploring the moss-laden wonderland of the surrounding forest. The trail winds through ancient hardwood groves, and over boulders, bridges, streams. Get lunch at the hut on a day trip, or make reservations and spend a night or two off-the-grid.
Haystack Mountain Trail (Castle Hill, Aroostook County) Did you know Maine has volcanoes? It does, and Haystack Mountain is one of the coolest. This is a seriously rewarding hike; you gain over 1400’ of elevation in just ¼ of a mile. Once you reach the summit, you’ll have spectacular views of Katahdin, serene rolling farmland, and of course, Canada. If you’re driving from the south, watch for planets along Route 1. Wait, what? Planets. Northern Maine is home to the Maine Solar System Model, a to-scale model of the solar system extending from the Sun in Presque Isle to Pluto in Topsfield. It’s kind of awesome.
Shepard’s Farm Preserve (Norway, Oxford County)
What was once acres of rolling farmland has been preserved for much more leisurely pursuits. Think kite-flying, picnicking, and watching sunsets. With well-maintained trails, open meadows, and quiet forests, this is one of the best places you’ll find to spend a lazy summer day.
Waterboro Barrens Preserve (Waterboro, York County) Remember a few million years ago when Maine was under a glacier? Neither do we. But the evidence remains in the form of one New England’s most interesting landscapes, the Waterboro Barrens. According the The Nature Conservancy,
“…this serene woodland preserve is home to the state’s best example of a boreal pine barrens. Up to 90 feet of nutrient-poor sandy soils filter water into groundwater aquifers and pristine ponds, streams and bogs. The pitch pine and scrub oak community is adapted to thrive after periodic fires, which keep fire-intolerant trees and woody shrubs from taking over the barrens.”
You’ll share the 4.4 mile trail system with 11 species of rare butterflies, crystal-clear ponds, and other-wordly vegetation. In other words, it’s a great place to sneak in a mid-summer geology lesson.
To see more about hiking at Maine Huts & Trails, click here >>
Do you have a favorite hiking spot? We’d love to hear about it!