Are you in the mood for mountain peaks with expansive vistas that gaze into forever? Maine has those.
Do you fancy gently rolling paths that peak out over tidal waters close to the coast? Maine has plenty of them, too.
As warm-weather hikers ready their boots and backpacks for a season on the trails, the big question is: how do you choose?
Maine has steep terrain that climbs into alpine, and leisurely routes that spill out onto coastal rocks. We’re blessed by hiking abundance, so much so that it feels like it’d take a lifetime to hike it all.
Luckily, Maine’s hikers are up to the challenge.
Finding a perfect-for-you trail is easier these days with searchable resources like AllTrails and Maine-focused Maine Trail Finder. These platforms offer elevation and distance details, trail descriptions, maps, comments, and photos. They also allow you to search for trails based on location, length, and difficulty.
Facebook groups are another excellent resource where members share photos and up-to-date trail conditions from recent hikes. They’re a good place to learn about new-to-you hikes as well as other useful tips from everything from gear advice to snack ideas. Search “Maine Hiking,” “Hike Maine,” “Women Who Hike Maine,” and “Maine Hiking Society” on Facebook.
And definitely get yourself a copy of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s “Maine Mountain Guide,” compiled and edited by wise Maine hiker Carey Kish.
As inspiration for those looking for ideas, here are two of my favorite hikes representing two sides of Maine: one in the western mountains and one near the eastern coast.
Goose Eye, Newry
Goose Eye is so named because its summit is as high as a goose’s eye. I suppose “a peak as high as a goose’s beak” works, too, or “a land mass as high as a goose’s.” Actually, you know what, never mind. This mountain in Newry could have been called anything, but Goose Eye is the name that stuck (mostly – sometimes people also call it “Goose High”).
The mountain is the second-tallest peak of the White Mountains’ Mahoosuc Range (Old Speck claims the title of tallest). And Goose Eye Mountain is a wonder.
There are a few trail options to summit Goose Eye, including the Goose Eye Trail and Carlo Col Trail (both of which start from the same parking lot and can be combined into a loop that includes Mount Carlo and a section of the Appalachian Trail).
I love to hike Goose Eye via the Wright Trail; the trailhead is a short drive from Sunday River, about two hours from Portland.
The Wright Trail is an 8.8-mile trail featuring river crossings, a sweet swimming hole or two, entertaining scrambles, and expansive above-treeline views. With an elevation gain of almost 2,800 feet, it’ll challenge your legs and lungs.
The views of nearby peaks and the distant horizon will keep you loitering and enjoying the summit for a while, so plan accordingly.
Ovens Mouth Preserve, Boothbay
Ovens Mouth Preserve is the perfect hike for new hikers, kid hikers, or anyone who wants to get into the woods for a couple hours and enjoy a lunch stop at a perfectly placed bench overlooking the Back River.
About an hour’s drive from Portland, Ovens Mouth Preserve is part of the BoothBay Region Land Trust‘s 30 miles of pet-friendly trails and consists of two peninsulas that are connected by a bridge (so hike one or hike them both).
There are about five miles of trails between the two peninsulas, and the trails on the west peninsula are more difficult than on the east (more ups and downs, but the inclines are brief and still accessible to beginners).
If you follow the west peninsula loop trail going clockwise (following the white blazes along the west side of the west peninsula) you’ll hear the Back River before you see it. What starts out looking like a creek thin enough to jump over will continue to widen as you go.
There are a handful of well-placed benches along the trail, which are perfect for a rest stop or just to loiter and enjoy the view.
My favorite is about a mile in, on the northeast edge of the western peninsula, where the water always seems to take on a beautiful emerald hue. This spot is also close to the bridge connecting the two peninsulas, and the eastern peninsula is right in view.
It’s a spot made for relaxation. Sit down for a bit, gaze on the water, and see what I mean.
Freelance writer Shannon Bryan lives in South Portland and is the founder of fitmaine.com, where she writes about the coolest ways to be active and get outdoors in Maine.