This month marks a huge milestone in Maine history, that of 200 years of statehood. In June 1819, Massachusetts passed legislation separating the District of Maine from the Commonwealth, and on March 15, 1820, Maine became the 23rd state of the Union. Celebrate Maine’s Bicentennial with a great hike that pairs with some of our most iconic natural, historical and cultural features. Here are a dozen to start with. Enjoy!

Katahdin. Rising majestically from the Maine woods is 5,268-foot Katahdin, Maine’s highest mountain and the crown jewel of 210,000-acre Baxter State Park. Climb to mile-high Baxter Peak, the northern terminus of the fabled Appalachian Trail, via the Chimney Pond and Cathedral trails, tackle the breathtaking Knife Edge, and descend Pamola via Helon Taylor Trail.

Acadia National Park. At 1,528-feet, Cadillac Mountain is the highest point not only in Acadia National Park, but on the entire Atlantic seaboard between Labrador and Brazil. Make the 6-mile north-south traverse of the pink granite peak for panoramic ocean, island and mountain views of the eastern side of Mount Desert Island and Maine’s only national park.

Celebrate Maine’s birthday by taking a hike near one of her many iconic lighthouses. Pictured here: the lighthouse at Quoddy Head in Lubec . John Ewing/staff photographer

Lighthouses. The red-and-white striped Quoddy Head Light in Lubec is one of more than 60 lighthouses that grace the 3,500 sinuous miles of Maine coast. Enjoy the view from the light out over the Bay of Fundy to Grand Manan Island in Canada, then strike off on a scenic 4-mile loop hike around the 541-acre Quoddy Head State Park, the easternmost chunk of land in the U.S.

Aroostook County. Nearly 7,000 square miles of forests and farmlands comprise Aroostook County, Maine’s largest, and bigger than Connecticut and Rhode Island combined. For an extensive look out over the “Crown of Maine,” follow the International Appalachian Trail from Big Rock Ski Area to the top of 1,748-foot Mars Hill, the site of Maine’s first wind power project.

Lobster. At the 120-acre La Verna Nature Preserve in Bristol on the eastern side of the Pemaquid Peninsula, a pleasant loop hike winds through old growth forests and along three-quarters of a mile of bold ocean shorefront on Muscongus Bay. Post-hike, find yourself a lobster shack to enjoy a fresh Maine lobster, with corn, potatoes and chowder, of course.


Portland. The Forest City Trail, Portland’s mini white-blazed version of the Appalachian Trail, links many of the wild places and green spaces of Maine’s largest city. The hike starts at the Stroudwater River and wends for 10 delightful miles to its end at roaring Presumpscot River Falls. Après-hike, Portland’s vibrant urban environs offer endless sightseeing possibilities.

Augusta. Five miles of footpaths meander through the Augusta Nature Education Center, 175 acres of meadows and woods replete with old granite quarries, waterfalls, lily ponds, beaver ponds and wildflowers. After your pleasant stroll, head for a look at the beautiful Maine State House, which was completed in 1932, a year after Augusta became the state capital.

A hiker leaps into a waterfall at Gulf Hagas, along the Appalachian Trail. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Gulf Hagas. Popularly known as the “Grand Canyon of Maine,” Gulf Hagas in Maine’s 100-Wilderness is a narrow slate canyon on the West Branch of the Pleasant River, which drops 400 feet in four miles, forming a series of waterfalls, rapids, chutes and pools. The 8-mile loop hike via the AT, Rim Trail and Pleasant River Tote Road is one of Maine’s finest day hikes.

Wild Blueberries. Blueberry pie, cobbler, muffins, pancakes, or by the handful in the field, Mainers love their sweet, tangy and antioxidant-rich wild blueberries. Cooper Farm at Caterpillar Hill in Sedgwick has 1 1/2 miles of hiking trails through spruce woods and blueberry fields, where the picking is pretty fine come late July and August.

Bradbury Mountain is not a bad place for leaf-peeping, either. Whitney Hayward/Staff Photographer

L.L. Bean. The sweeping granite ledges of 484-foot Bradbury Mountain, the namesake summit of the 800-acre state park in Pownal, rewards hikers with fine easterly views to Casco Bay and the Portland skyline. Any number of easy trails will get you there. A shopping trip to L.L. Bean in Freeport, the venerable outdoor retailer in business since 1912, is a rite of passage.

White Pines. It’s no coincidence that Maine is nicknamed the Pine Tree State, given that lumber from the stately Eastern White Pine, the tallest tree in eastern North America, has played an important role in the state’s economy for several hundred years. Saunter along the Ravine Trail at 192-acre Fields Pond Audubon Center in Holden for a walk among the piney giants.

Moose. A wonderful system of trails leads through 15,000-acre Little Moose Public Lands just west of Moosehead Lake, connecting a number of pristine ponds and rugged ridgelines as well as climbing to the 3,194-foot summit of Big Moose Mountain. If you don’t spy a moose or two on your sojourn here, join a Greenville area outfitter for a moose safari, usually a sure thing.

Carey Kish of Mt. Desert Island is the author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast and editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide. Follow Carey’s adventures on Facebook @ Carey Kish.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: