Exploring Maine: Traveling the Pine Tree State
By Kimberly Graf. Published on December 17, 2018
Maine is one of the most Northern states in America. It's the end of the Appalachian Trail as well as being the home to Stephen King and some of New England's most spectacular lighthouses. The wilderness here is simply gorgeous. We'll take a few trips through some of Maine's best sights!
Maine's Waterfall Trip
Maine has the highest concentration of waterfalls in the United States. Most of them are only accessible through a half-dozen trails leading through the forest, but there are a few in central Maine that you can see from the road.
Our journey starts at Coos Canyon in Byron, Maine. These are smaller waterfalls on the river, with family fun, recreation, and eroded rock formations. When the leaves are changing, this place is even more picturesque! There is a campground and plenty of water fun to be had here on the river! Just 23 miles to the south is our next stop. Take Highway 17 south until you hit the town of Rumford. Take a left onto Highway 2 , and travel south for another four minutes until you reach the pull-out.
Rumford Falls can be seen from the road. Rapid cataracts make up the majority of this system. You can float and kayak on the river, but you'll want to go when the water is high to get the full effect. This beautiful river tumbles with waterfalls if you come when there's more water.
Get back on Highway 2 and travel for 22 miles until you reach the town of Newry. Take a right onto highway 26 and travel approximately 13 miles. Screw Auger Falls is the next stop on our trip. Located in Grafton Notch State Park, these falls are amazing! We've saved the best for last. The falls here are tall and foamy, the perfect example of waterfalls. There's a railed lookout point where you can get amazing pictures of the falls. You're going to love it!
As we said before, there are many more falls in this area. Many of them are reachable by the Appalachian trails or many other foot-trails if you want to investigate. It's worth a look, for sure. This entire drive takes an hour and eighteen minutes, and covers about 56 miles of wonderful scenery!
Coastal Maine Trip
The coast of Maine is full of inlets and small island areas. The culture here is mainly fishing towns, small communities with plenty of gorgeous scenery between.
We'll start in Eastport, Maine. It's a collection of islands connected by a causeway. It's pretty neat to see a town fully established on multiple islands. Highway 190 North will take you across these islands and causeways until you reach the mainland. Highway 1 is one of the main routes through the state.
The routes through this part of the state will be mostly pine forests with towering trees and a lot of greenery. Highway 1 eventually weaves back out to the water, and has beautiful views of each of the bays along the way. It is 34 minutes from the central point of Eastport to Whiting, Maine, a charming, old-world town.
A wonderful route to follow on this trip goes from Whiting through South Trescott, Cutler, and East Machias. Any of these bay towns will have wonderful lobster and seafood options if you happen to get hungry. From Whiting to South Trescott is 9 miles, about 11 minutes of travel on Highways 189 and 191. This takes you out onto another peninsula, trading trees for gorgeous bays along the way.
Down 191 about 11 miles is Cutler, Maine. Here is the Cutler Coast Public Reserved Land, a gorgeous place to take a hike or enjoy the waves crashing on the rocks. Cutler itself is another bay town with a waterway full of fishing boats and communities full of Colonial-era houses. It is 19 minutes up to East Machias, and most of the way crosses over the Little Machias Bay and Holmes Bay. This is a working community full of weathered fishermen with roots going back to Colonial times.
Jonesboro and Jonesport are the last two stops on this coastal tour. Jonesboro is 17 minutes from East Machias along Highway 1. This is the gateway to a lot of recreation points on the ocean, as there are trails and boating activities all the way to the mouth of the bay. 13 miles past Jonesboro is the town of Jonesport, a lobstering town that always seems to have fishing boats in the bay.
Anywhere along this route will have lovely trees, water activities, recreation, and great food. This is a wonderfully scenic tour of the Atlantic Ocean coast. This trip is a combined 2 hours or 85 miles without stops.
Maine's coast is littered with lighthouses, and all of them are unique. Most are even functional! These five lighthouses are the simplest and most interesting lighthouses to visit on your trip through Maine.
We'll start in Rockland, Maine. Besides being home to the first lighthouse on our list, it has a historic downtown district and about a dozen interesting buildings and sites. Just 15 minutes to the south is the first lighthouse on our trip. Owl's Head Lighthouse is a tiny three-story affair. The caretaker's house is just down the hill from the bluff where the white tower sits. The view from this bluff is crystal blue water and the suggestion of islands off to the north.
When you're finished with the amazing views, head back to Rockland the same way you came. From here, take Highway 1 until you reach the town of Damariscotta. The drive is about an hour and fifteen minutes. This is a lovely New England town right on the water. We're heading south down Highway 130 from here. About 15 miles down the road is Pemaquid Point Lighthouse Park. This lighthouse is attached to a huge caretaker house. John Quincy Adams commissioned this lighthouse to be built in 1827. Today it's owned by the coast guard and you can get in to tour it for cheap.
From here, take 130 back the way you came until you hit 129. When you reach Junction 1, take Highway 1 South. It'll turn into Interstate 295, but the drive takes you across so many waterways and through so many pine forests. It's a gorgeous drive of about an hour and fifteen minutes. Once you reach Portland, take a drive out to the Portland Head Lighthouse on Cape Elizabeth.
Portland Head is a picturesque, tall lighthouse that is still functional. There's a museum in the keeper's quarters and a nearby park with plenty of historic structures and picnic facilities. Head back to Portland and take Highway 1 south for an hour and a half to come to Nubble Lighthouse, the last stop on our trip.
This lighthouse is usually decked out in Christmas lights during that time of year – it's a beautiful sight to see. You can tour the lighthouse here as well and take some time to explore Sohier Park, where the lighthouse resides. There are many more lighthouses scattered on the north coast of Maine, but this tour features many of the most accessible ones.
This trip is 4 hours driving time, which is about 169 miles. It may include tolls.
Maine is full of beautiful New England countryside and heritage. There are so many wonderful places to explore, we encourage you to go on an adventure and find your own routes to explore!