Maine is such a vast state, and there are so many beautiful scenic routes and byways that it's difficult for even a native Mainer to decide where to go to see the best fall foliage. It could take a lifetime to see it all.
From the highways and back roads of southern and central Maine, to as far north as Baxter State Park, the Moosehead Lake region, and the Rangeley Lake region; from the coast to the White Mountains between Maine and New Hampshire: here are 10 of the best routes to drive to see Maine's fall foliage.
- Route 1 from Bath to Brunswick (in both directions) is a short ride but very colorful at peak. For a longer drive, continue south on Route 95 from Brunswick to Yarmouth and back. Or, after you return to Brunswick, continue north on Route 1 to Wiscasset, where the lunch menu at Sarah's Cafe features homemade soups, oven-baked sandwiches, and lobster delights.
- Route 17 from Rockland to Augusta.
- Route 17 from Rumford to Rangeley: includes the stunning view from Height of Land, overlooking Mooselookmeguntic Lake. Not seeing enough gold in the trees? Pull over at Coos Canyon in Byron, and pan for gold... really!
- Route 22 from Portland to Route 35 in Bonny Eagle, then Route 35 north to Standish, continuing back to Portland on Route 25 East.
- Route 127 South from Bath through Arrowsic and Georgetown all the way to Five Islands. Have lunch at Five Islands Lobster Co., which stays open weekends through mid-October.
- Route 105 from Camden to Hope and North Appleton, then Route 131 North to Searsmont, then Appleton Ridge Road south to Route 131 in Union, then Route 17 to Rockland.
- Route 3 all around Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island (Bar Harbor), including going to the top of Cadillac Mountain. You'll love the park's scenic photo ops. For a true back road fall foliage experience, plan ahead and reserve your spots on a horse-drawn tour of Acadia's famous carriage roads with Carriages of Acadia.
- Route 27 from Farmington to Kingfield.
- Route 201 from Augusta to Waterville, Skowhegan, Solon, and Bingham to Jackman, near the Canadian border. This is one of the longer rides, but it's well worth it. The Jackman area offers long vistas of mountains full of color, and Route 201 spends a lot of time running along the mighty Kennebec River, where you may spy whitewater rafters in action.
- Route 15/6 north from Greenville along the eastern shore of Moosehead Lake to Rockwood (don't miss Mt. Kineo in Rockwood), continuing west on Route 15/6 to Jackman. On your return, take Route 201 to Augusta (see above). Before leaving Greenwood, drive up Squaw Mountain to Big Squaw Mountain Ski Resort for breathtaking views along the way and from the top, looking out over Moosehead Lake. The Birches Resort on Moosehead Lake is the perfect landing place when your leaf peeping day is done.