Guides

The Best Hiking in Maine

by Joe ColemanJun 21, 2022

When most people think of hiking in Maine, Acadia National Park, and not much else, comes to mind. I’m here to set the record straight, though. Acadia is AMAZING, but there’s a whole lot more to hiking in Maine. While Acadia is beautiful and one of the most prominent national parks in the entire U.S., the Pine Tree State (yep, that’s the nickname) has plenty of beautiful northeastern hiking throughout its entirety.

Tips for Hiking in Maine

Dress Light

Just because it’s the northeast doesn’t mean it stays cool year-round. While there are plenty of cooler summer days if you’re in a port city with the ocean breeze, Maine hiking can get warm quickly. Packable layers are your friend, but less is more here.

Bring the Trekking Poles

The New England wilderness can be tough on hikers. While ruggedly beautiful, you want to prepare for the rugged part so you can enjoy the beautiful. Trekking poles (and sturdy hiking shoes) are always good to have. While not necessary all the time, you’re better off having them and not needing them. Keep them in your car or strap them to your daypack, but don’t leave home without them!

Want to Skip the Crowds? Skip the Appalachian Trail (AT)

Yes, this might sound sacrilegious to some. Skip the AT? Skip the famous Mount Katahdin? Look, you aren’t required to, obviously. However, if you’ve spent the last week in Acadia and you just want some solitude, don’t expect to find it on the AT.

You’ll find day hikers and thru-hikers aplenty if you hop on this final stretch of the Appalachian Trail. If you really want that picture at the top of Mount Katahdin, then know you’ll (most likely) run into crowds.

Best Hiking in Maine

In many ways, Maine is about as removed from the Lower 48 as you can be without actually leaving the continental United States. With its own sense of rugged adventure, venturing out into the wilds of Maine will bring back memories you’ll treasure for a lifetime.

The Beehive Loop Trail – Acadia National Park

A hiker stares out at the view of the ocean and a tree-covered peninsula from her viewpoint on Beehive Loop trail, a popular place to go hiking in Maine.

Sure, Maine is more than just Acadia. That doesn’t mean you won’t find some of the best hiking trails in Maine here, though! The Beehive Loop is consistently a fan favorite, and though it gets a rating of “difficult,” hikers often find that to be a bit of a stretch. While the first half-mile is challenging, the rest of the hike is relatively easy beyond that.

Likely somewhere between a “moderate” and “difficult” rating, you don’t want to assume this will be a cakewalk, but don’t let the rating deter you from having this hike on your Acadia bucket list.

Length: 1.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 508 feet

Route Type: Loop

Time Required: 1 hour

Where to Stay: Hadley’s Point Campground

Pleasant Mountain via Ledges Trail – Pleasant Mountain Preserve

If your travels take you towards the southern section of Maine, you’ll find this near the border with New Hampshire. Though not the most prominent name when it comes to hiking in Maine, Pleasant Mountain offers well-marked trails (which isn’t always a guarantee in these less-popular areas), so you’ll have no trouble staying on the trail.

While not overly difficult, you’ll still get a solid ascent on the out portion of this trail. Around the peak, there are a couple of tricky spots, but nothing too off-putting. While you will have to contend with bugs, you won’t have to worry much about the Maine sun since most of this trail is shaded.

Length: 3.3 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,512 feet

Route Type:  Out and Back

Time Required: 2.5 hours

Where to Stay: On the Saco Family Campground

Jordan Pond Path – Acadia National Park

Flat planks cover the trail on Jordan Pond Path through a heavily wooded area.

If you want an enjoyable, easy hike in Acadia, you’ll love Jordan Pond. Maybe you’re looking for a warmup hike or something to do first thing after waking up. Whatever it is, this trail promises lakeside views throughout as it circumnavigates Acadia’s Jordan Pond.

With next to no elevation gained, this trail is flat and easy, perfect for the whole family! The trail is a bit rocky in parts but still has a rating of “easy,” so all hikers should be able to undertake this well-maintained pond loop. If you have young children, the east side of the pond is a more leisurely hike than the western side.

Length: 3.1 miles

Elevation Gain: 42 feet

Route Type: Loop

Time Required: 1 hour

Where to Stay: Timberland Acres RV Park

Cliff Trail – Harpswell, ME

If you want to be on the water but away from the crowds at Acadia, head down the coast towards the town of Harpswell, Maine. This Maine hiking spot is out of the way, though still well-maintained. You’ve got a couple of prominent climbs, though you don’t gain all that much elevation throughout the trail.

If you’re taking a more leisurely approach to your Maine hiking tour, you can enjoy the Cliff Trail with your dog in tow. You’ll find a couple of climbs and sections with roots to be aware of, but nothing out of the ordinary for Maine. Bring the bug spray, as you’ll have flying friends greeting you during the summer months.

Length: 2.1 miles

Elevation Gain: 262 feet

Route Type: Loop

Time Required: 1 hour

Where to Stay: Desert of Maine Campground

Fore River Sanctuary White Trail – Fore River Sanctuary

If you want to stretch your legs after flying into Portland, the nearby Fore River Sanctuary offers a short, easy trail to hike after you get settled. This is a popular local trail and, as such, very well maintained and easy to enjoy. Be prepared for the bugs and some mud if there have been recent rains.

Make sure to look out for Jewel Falls as you start the trail. It’ll be just under a quarter-mile in. If you miss it, no worries, you can catch it on the way back! If nothing else, proximity to Fortland, one of the most unique campsites in the country, is plenty of reason to hike this one.

Length: 3.3 miles

Elevation Gain: 177 feet

Route Type: Out and Back

Time Required: 1 hour

Where to Stay: Fortland

Gorham Mountain Loop – Acadia National Park

A hiker descends a rock path that overlooks the ocean on the Gorham Mountain Loop trail in Acadia National Park, one of the most popular places to go hiking in Maine, and in the country.

I’m ending this list on a high note with one of the more popular trails in Acadia. You’ll want to get up early to beat the crowds. A sunset hike of Gorham Mountain would make the early call time completely worth it. Regardless of when you get there, the views at the top of Gorham Mountain are unforgettable.

If you’re hiking The Beehive Loop Trail, you’ll be right next to Gorham Mountain, so you can use this one as a warmup for the Beehive or spend the morning hiking the two of them. Since you’re in the area, don’t forget to check out nearby Sand Beach!

Length: 3 miles

Elevation Gain: 583 feet

Route Type: Loop

Time Required: 1.5 hours

Where to Stay: Forest Ridge Campground

When hiking in Maine, a proper tour will take you throughout the state. While you could just spend time in Acadia and love it, you should take in more of the state if your schedule allows. Wherever you go, pack the bug spray and prep for the untamed beauty of Maine!

Joe Coleman is a freelance travel and outdoor writer based in East Texas. His love for the outdoors started when living near Olympic National Park and has stayed with him ever since. Taking a respite from social media, you can reach him exclusively at joecolemanfreelance@gmail.com.

Photo credit in order of appearance: Tyler Way, Adobe Stock – Jason Busa, Lost_in_the_Midwest, John