Despite being August in North Carolina, this morning was just crisp and cool enough during my walk to put me in a “fall” state of mind. I have always loved fall – it tugs at my emotions – bringing a hint of sadness because summer is ending and the days are growing shorter, but also bringing the excitement and promise of holidays to come, filled with family and friends.
There are many incredible things about fall in Maine (versus, sadly, fall in North Carolina, where rather than a season it’s a smattering of 60 degree days before plummeting to 40 and raining for the next 5 months), and without a doubt, one of the highlights of the season is Maine’s beautiful fall foliage.
It’s hard to believe, but the peak of Maine’s foliage viewing is only 6-8 weeks away, depending on where in the state you’d like to go. No time like the present to plan! A great deal of the following information I pulled from MaineFoliage.com, and I really liked this map feature, where the foliage is broken up by zone. VisitMaine.com is also a great resource for travelers. Throughout the state, the peak week for foliage viewing is widely considered to be the second week in October, with the northernmost regions being best viewed in the last week of September.
In the southern part of the state, try the highly recommended Antiques & Boutiques loop, which will take you from Kittery to Portland and Cape Elizabeth, and back through North and South Berwick. This area is (generally) where I grew up – and it is exceptionally lovely, filled with both scenery and history. As the name suggests, you can also find excellent retail experiences along the way!
If you’re ready for more, the Maples & Mountains loop would be a winner. This loop ventures from Naples, to Bethel, and Fryeburg, before bringing you full circle. Personally, this option would be high on my list because it gives great opportunities to view large expanses of foliage. First, it takes you right by Shawnee Peak Ski Resort, where you can use the Resort’s chairlifts to ascend the mountain for hiking, mountain biking, or simply taking in panoramic views of the area’s foliage and many lakes. Next, the loop takes you through the charming, historic town of Bethel, home to Sunday River Ski Resort, and then into the White Mountain National Forest, which as you might imagine, features extraordinary foliage.
The Franklin Heritage loop winds from Livermore Falls, through Farmington (where my brother attended college at UMF), and includes visits to two more big ski resorts with picturesque mountain foliage views: Sugarloaf USA and Saddleback.
If you want to see Moosehead Lake and the surrounding area, the Lakes and Leaves loop is for you! This touring loop starts (and ends, of course) in Skowhegan, and takes you through Greenville and the shores of Moosehead Lake. What appeals to me most about this loop is the stretch as you drive south on Route 201 to Bingham, which follows one of Maine’s Scenic Highways. A recent addition to the National Scenic Highways list, it boasts stunning views of the Kennebec River and surrounding mountains in all their glory.
No post on Maine would be complete without the mention of Acadia National Park – and of course, there is an Acadia Harbors and Heights loop! This tour begins in Bangor and ventures through Bar Harbor and Acadia, before returning to Bangor via Bucksport. As you might imagine, charming villages and shops are bountiful in this region, and the National Park offers incredible views and the opportunity to get up close and personal with the great outdoors. The carriage trails throughout Acadia were actually designed and built by John D. Rockefeller Jr.
There are many more touring loops – so many I just can’t cover them here! In addition to my top selections described above, check out these loops on VisitMaine.com: Apples & Arts, Windjammers & Water Views, Downeast Villages & Vistas, Museums, Parks, & Peaks, The County Circuit, Gems of 26.
In closing, I’d like to share with you the final line from the Maine Tourism Association’s page on Maine’s fall foliage. It sums up my feelings on the topic perfectly:
“Few sights satisfy the soul like the brilliant colors splashed across Maine’s forests each autumn.”