Looking for an outdoor adventure this weekend? Here are three-day hikes that show off the variety of scenery available to us in Maine. Whether you’re looking for waterfalls, ocean views or a bit of rock climbing, there’s something for everyone here in the Maine.
ANGEL FALLS: There are few hikes in Maine that offer as much reward for as little effort as Angel Falls. Located near Houghton in the western mountains, Angel is one of the largest single-drop waterfalls in the state. And as part of a circuit that’s only a mile long and barely rises 200 vertical feet, it’s an easy hike for families and with pet (or a perfect coda for a day spent hiking more strenuous trails in the region).
Though the trail is located deep in the mountains – about 100 miles north of Portland – it’s easy to reach. From southern Maine, take Route 4 to Livermore, follow 108 to Rumford and then head west on Route 173. About 20 miles outside of Rumford, a short spur called Bemis Road puts visitors at the trailhead.
The red-blazed trail winds through hardwood forests and crosses multiple streams (watch your step), all while rising gently toward the falls. After just over a half-mile, hikers are greeted by the spectacular 90-foot Angel Falls. When there’s a lot of water flowing, you can see cascades creating an illusion of angel wings on the falls’ upper reaches, hence the feature’s name.
WELLS RESERVE AT LAUDHOLM: Located on the Maine coast halfway between Portland and the New Hampshire border, the Wells Reserve at Laudholm features seven miles of trails winding through open fields, old-growth forest and salt marsh – not to mention a path that terminates at Laudholm Beach. Like many of Maine’s scenic preserves and land trusts, Wells Reserve combines easy access with beautiful, unchallenging trails.
Located off Route 1 south of Kennebunk, the Wells Reserve at Laudholm couldn’t be easier to reach. Driving on the Post Road, visitors will find the Laudholm Farm Road just on the Wells side of the Wells-Kennebunk town line. Half a mile down the road there’s a parking area from which visitors can access trails. It’s worth mentioning that during the stretch from Memorial Day to Columbus Day, there is a fee charged for access ($1 ages 6 to 16, $4 ages 16 and up, $12 maximum charge per vehicle).
With seven miles of winding trails that crisscross one another, it’s easy to chart your own route based on what you’d like to see. Interested in fields and forest? There’s the Muskie Trail. More interested in estuaries and marshes? The Farley Trail is your go-to. Wells Reserve and Laudholm Trust recommend three specific trail combos that are marked on their trail map – a Salt Marsh Loop, a Forest Interpretive Loop and a path along Laudholm Beach to the mouth of the Little River. My favorite route is Muskie to Pilger to Farley, which leads you around the entire perimeter of the Reserve.
MAHOOSUC NOTCH: There’s little DNA shared between Mahoosuc Notch and the trails at Angel Falls and Wells Reserve. Whereas those earlier trails are family-friendly, low-stress day hikes, Mahoosuc is a real challenge that can be rolled into an overnight. Popularly termed the “killer mile” or “toughest mile of the Appalachian Trail,” Mahoosuc Notch is a scramble over, under and beside boulders, and rough granite terrain.
As a day hike, the notch is best tackled one way with a car at either end. Even then, the hike is near 10 miles, so it’s worth an honest appraisal of your (and your companions’) abilities before tackling in one day. The trailheads to both start and finish are on Success Pond Road, best accessed by heading east from Main Street and Hutchins Road in Berlin, N.H. The trailheads are both on the stretch of the road on the Maine side of the state line – one car can be parked at the Notch Trail trailhead, and hikers can begin from a car left at Speck Pond trailhead to the north.
The hike is strenuous but rewarding. From the trailhead, it’s a three-mile hike up Speck Pond Trail to the summit of Mahoosuc Arm, which rises over 3,000 vertical feet and gets steeper. From the summit, a right turn puts hikers on the AT and descends several hundred feet over a mile toward Mahoosuc Notch proper. Here’s where you hit the “killer mile,” a scramble through a narrow notch that travels over, under and (it feels like) through boulders and across granite slabs. Though it’s only a mile, you can expect it will take several hours to navigate the Notch. Once you get through the Notch, the Notch Trail leaves the AT on a hiker’s right. It’s all gravy from here – a gentle cruise down to a waiting car.
For hikers looking to simply see Mahoosuc Notch without committing to the hike, there is the option to depart from the Notch Trail trailhead and hike the 2.2 miles to the southwest terminus of the Notch.
Josh Christie is a freelance writer and lifetime outdoors enthusiast. He shares column space in Outdoors with his father, John Christie. He can be contacted at: [email protected]