Hard as it is to admit, summer is just a memory and we can start making plans for next year’s outdoor adventures.

But before we do, and looking on the bright side, remember that the month ahead is considered by many to be the best season for refreshing sojourns on foot, on the water and just tooling around Maine’s magnificent countryside.

Cool temperatures, bright colors and uncrowded destinations all conspire to make October and early November a slice of the year that lots of us anticipate as summer winds down. A month just isn’t long enough time to cram all the things I’d like to do, but what follows is my autumn itinerary of must-do excursions.

First, I’ve annually inaugurated the arrival of this special season with a Columbus Day hike of magnificent Bigelow Mountain. I can usually enjoy the company of a son or two and some friends, as we’ve alternated hikes up either the old Warden’s Trail from Stratton Brook Pond in Carrabassett Valley or up Safford Brook Trail from Flagstaff Lake on the north side of the mountain. In recent years Safford Brook Trail has been my trail of choice. I find it slightly less daunting than the trail on the south side, and you’re rewarded at Avery Peak with the spectacle of Sugarloaf to the south, with its trails white with early snow in some years, while the golf course is still a lush green and the hardwoods are showing their brilliant foliage.

Having made the Bigelow ascent a tradition for more than 30 years, I’ve finally admitted it’s probably time to start an easier but equally rewarding tradition, so this year will be the first of what I hope will be many Columbus Day ascents of Borestone Mountain a few miles east of Monson.

It’s a shorter hike than Bigelow, but the views over Onawa Lake to the north and Sebec to the south are about as good as you’ll find in Maine.

Next on my October list is a trip to Acadia to spend a day exercising a different set of muscles biking on the uncrowded carriage roads that abound there. Our trail of choice is the one circumventing Eagle Lake, but you won’t go wrong opting for any of the well-marked and groomed gravel surfaces that wind their way through much of this Down East treasure.

No foliage season would be complete without a day spent just drinking in the bright colors of fall from the comfort of your car, or on the motorcycle if you really want an unobstructed 360-degree view of your surroundings. Your options for ogling the opulent brilliance are virtually limitless, as we’re blessed with what is arguably the nation’s best foliage viewing. But my excursion of choice takes me up Route 4 from Farmington through Strong and Phillips with a stop at Smalls Falls on the upper reaches of the Sandy River just above Madrid.

Then it’s on to Rangeley, around the north side of the lake to Oquossoc and down Route 17 to Mexico, with a picnic lunch overlooking Mooselookmeguntic Lake. A stop at Angel Falls 18 miles north of Mexico is a must on this particular route.

Just last week as we headed home from our annual sojourn to the Fryeburg Fair, we were treated to the just-emerging brilliance of autumn as we side-tracked up through Evans Notch on Route 113 to Gilead, and that’s a trip worth considering.

No October is complete without a final freshwater paddle, and options abound. For me, pushing off from Bog Bridge about three miles up Route 105 north of Camden on Lake Megunticook is a perfect on-the-water coda for a summer of paddling. A quiet paddle around beautiful Megunticook, with its view of Maiden Cliff to the east, makes for a great memory to last until spring.

There’s a convenient, well-marked public launch site, with ample parking across the road. Heading up the lake past Fernald’s Neck is a captivating trip, with a loon spotting virtually guaranteed, and you can even extend the paddle by heading up to Norton Pond all the way to Lincolnville Center.

So, enjoy Maine’s Super Season before the snows arrive in November.

John Christie is an author and year-round Maine explorer. He and his son Josh write in Outdoors about places to enjoy the beauty that only Maine has to offer. He can be contacted at:

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