Hikers in Maine know that the state has a blessing of riches when it comes to remote trails. With hundreds of miles or trekking routes to explore, they can't just limit themselves to wandering the backcountry during the warmer months. Quite the contrary in fact, as winter is one of the most beautiful seasons of all, bringing an incredible sense of peaceful solitude to the wilderness.
If you're looking for some great places to hike while visiting Maine during the winter, we have five suggestions that should be on your list. Just be sure to bundle up, put on a good pair of boots, and bring your sense of adventure. You're going to need it for these great hiking trails.
Witch Hole Loop: Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park is one of the best places to go for a hike in the entire state of Maine, but during the warmer months, it can get quite crowded at times. That isn't the case during the winter however. During the cooler, snowy months the Park Loop Road is closed to outside traffic, keeping most of the usual tourist crowd to a minimum. It's a great time for those who don't mind putting in a little extra effort however.
Grab a pair of snowshoes, cross-country skis, or just some warm winter boots and hit the Witch Hole Loop trail for a 3.3-mile trek that takes you along a scenic path past Witch Hole Pond. During the summer, this is one of Acadia's famous carriage routes, but in the winter it converts into a great hiking trail instead. Wide, well marked, and easy to follow, it is a spectacular walk through a snowy setting that you'll wish was even a bit longer.
Forest City Trail: Portland
Located in Portland, Maine the Forest City Trail is an impressive 10-mile long route that passes through a thick hardwood forest, without ever really straying all that far from town. The trail's accessibility makes it a popular one all year round, but during the winter it is easy to find plenty of solitude as you march along some of the more secluded sections. One of the best of those segments meanders through the Fore River Sanctuary, an 85-acre preserve that is home to the city's only natural waterfall. The path also wanders along the banks of the Stroudwater and Presumpscot Rivers, providing plenty of excellent scenery to enjoy along the way. The trail is 3.3-miles in length during the winter months, so bring appropriate footwear for the cold and snow.
Pond Cove Trail: Roque Bluffs State Park
While the facilities at Roque Bluffs State Park are officially closed during the winter, visitors are still allowed to wander into the park on foot. Those that do will want to take the Pond Cove Trail, which is just two miles in length but offers fantastic views of Pond Cove from an overlook at Rose Ledge.
If you happen to be a bit more adventurous, and are looking for a bit longer walk, then add the Mihill Trail loop to your agenda. This add-on route extends the winter hike by another 2 miles, with added scenery to soak up along the way. This path takes visitors past the Great Cove as well, which is definitely worth the extra effort for the views that it provides.
Great Pond Mountain: Orland
If epic views of breathtaking landscapes covered in snow are what you crave, then add Great Pond Mountain to your list of must-do winter hikes in Maine. The trail takes you up to the top of a 1000+ foot granite cliff that overlooks the main peaks of Acadia National Park, as well as nearby Camden Hills, Penobscot Bay, and Blue Hill Bay. On a clear day, you can see for miles, with remote wilderness stretching into the distance.
The trail itself is a relatively easy hike covering just 2.5 miles, although the surrounding Great Pond Mountain Wildlands offers another 15 miles of paths to explore should you feel the need to stretch your legs further. The preserve spreads out across its 4500 acres of wilderness, which is generally all-but deserted during the winter. If weather conditions are good, plan on spending some time on the summit, as you'll want to soak in the entire skyline before heading back down.
Camden Hills State Park
Camden Hills State Park is a wonderful outdoor playground all year round, and its trails are even well maintained during the winter months. The park features numerous hiking routes of varying lengths and difficulties to explore, but for those looking for a true winter adventure, the hike up Megunticook Mountain is the way to go. Approximately 3.5 miles in length, this trail wanders through a lush forest for much of its length, obscuring some of the views for much of the walk. But as you approach the top of the 1385-foot peak, those trees give way to reveal two granite outcroppings—Maiden Cliff and Ocean Lookout—that reveal why this hike is so highly rated. From either location, trekkers are treated to spectacular views that are utterly unforgettable, making the sometimes-strenuous walk completely worth it.
Remember, winter weather conditions can change quickly, so always check the forecast before heading out onto the trail. Also, be sure to pack extra layers, bring plenty of food and water, and let someone know your plan before leaving for the backcountry. These extra precautions can help keep you safe, even in challenging conditions.