Ezy Reading:
Road-Tripping In Maine This Autumn
Evan Kanarakis

The spectacle of changing foliage in New England during the autumn months is one that attracts thousands of visitors to the region each year. Moving to the United States from Australia I was, admittedly, initially quite cynical about exactly how amazing the sight of ‘mere leaves’ could possibly be, however it was a trip to the Moosehead Lake region of Maine in 2007 that finally set me straight. Driving around the bend of a particularly remote country road one late September evening a bright glow ahead caused me to instinctively reach for my sunglasses until I realized it was just an especially golden grove of maples shining in a manner unlike I’d ever seen before. Driving on a little further my driving companions and I were soon surrounded by the leaves of fiery red, gleaming orange and brilliant gold that I’d heard so much about but never experienced. It was, put simply, breathtaking.



Indeed, one of the advantages of autumn in Maine is the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the season without the throng that often congest other New England states at this time of year. While there’s no set ‘must do’ excursion, it is worth remembering that traditional destinations like Baxter State Park and Acadia aren’t the only worth visiting. Though not always the most frequented of Maine tourist towns, the city of Bangor is a great traveler’s recharge and refuel stop, and well situated as an ideal ‘starting-point’ for adventures into the far corners of the state. Whether for a stand-alone fall excursion or a more extended journey, here are three scenic Maine destinations to consider this fall season:


Route 201 To The Forks-

Route 201, the Old Canada Road, is a popular scenic route during fall, but many Mainers may only be familiar with the region after whitewater rafting and camping adventures here in the summer months. From Bangor, simply head southbound on the I-95, then take exit 150 toward Pittsfield/Burnham and follow the signs to Skowhegan. Veer northwest onto Route 201. Soon, shifting from farmland into forest, you will now venture through some of the most beautiful country in the state, particularly after Solon when the road hugs the picturesque banks of the Kennebec River, set against a mountain skyline. At The Forks some 45 miles north of Skowhegan, the Kennebec meets the Dead River and here, if you have time, take a brief hiking diversion nearby to explore the 90-ft Moxie Falls.


From The Forks you can either continue north along 201 through the Great North Woods and on into Quebec, or plot a shorter path east for either Greenville if you’d like to observe the autumn sights at Moosehead Lake, or down to Dover-Foxcroft before taking Route 15 back towards Bangor to complete your day-long scenic loop.


Bangor to Bethel-

Sure, the roughly three-hour drive from Bangor reads like the work of a numerologist as you navigate from I-95 S to 202 W, 133 W to ME-219, and onto Route 26 before finally arriving in the ski town of Bethel, but too few folks from the Bangor area venture this far west during autumn. The colors are often still vibrant through mid to late-October and views of picture-postcard lakes and rolling hills await ahead. From Bethel there are several options. You’d be hard pressed not to head north on Route 2, then turn northwest on Route 26 to the Grafton Notch State Park, always alive with bright colors at this time of year. If, however, you are eager to perhaps make it an overnight stay, consider heading south for Fryeburg, or north to Rangeley. Either locale can happily form part of a larger, scenic loop trip from –and returning to- Bangor.


Camden Hills State Park-

One and a half hours south of Bangor along Route 1A, then down Route 1, lies Camden, and a route well traveled by most locals. During fall this drive through such towns as Winterport, Searsport, and Belfast offers many scenic glimpses, however the sights of the Camden Hills State Park merit a definite visit for leaf peepers eager to take in a short road trip this season.


You can find the entrance to the park –Mt Battie Rd– just three miles north of Camden on Route 1. If feeling energetic, set aside a few extra hours to hike Mount Megunticook. The trails to the summit are well marked and not overwhelmingly challenging, but will get the blood rushing. After that, drive up nearby Mt. Battie and climb the short flight of stairs on the stone tower commemorating World War I. From the top is a breathtaking view over Camden, Camden Harbor and Penobscot Bay. To the rear lies the bright foliage of Mt Megunticook and the forests beyond. Mt Battie certainly presents a unique opportunity to combine autumnal inland views with those of the Maine coastline.


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