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Maine is one of the go-to destinations in the USA for seeing the leaf colors turn in the fall. The peak time for beautiful fall foliage is in the first two weeks of October, when New England’s largest state pulls visitors from big cities such as New York and Boston to witness the dramatic colors on display. There is no shortage of places to see the elms, birch and great oaks change color, but we’ve rounded up the very best.
In northern Maine, close to the town of Millinocket, Baxter State Park is overwhelmingly vibrant at peak fall foliage time, as its forest and mountains become extremely bold and dense. There are many hiking trails, and many visitors like to pitch up and camp before the temperatures get too low. In early October you can appreciate nature’s palette of colors: the red and white pine forest and the spruces and hardwoods turning yellow, orange and red.
Just four hours north of Baxter State Park sits Moosehead Lake, the largest mountain lake in the whole of the USA. Many take the Pinnacle Pursuit hike to get the best views of the forest turning red and yellow under the low clouds; on the right fall day, the transition between the seasons is hard to beat. The colors are brilliant, and with so many roads through the area, you don’t even have to leave your car to appreciate the glory of the pines.
Aroostook State Park is the oldest state park in central Maine and its trees are the earliest to turn in the whole region, around late September. There are driving routes on smooth roads from which you can appreciate the splendor, but hikes up to Quoggy Jo Mountain best let you appreciate the firs, white cedars and spruces as they switch into their fall finery. The hike can be a little demanding, but the views from the summit will not disappoint.
Ogunquit in southern Maine ticks a lot of boxes as a fall destination. Sitting prettily on the Atlantic, there are many fantastic accommodation options, and it also has a great annual fall festival to celebrate this golden season. Mount Agamenticus has perfect trails to follow, either by foot or on a bike, and the hemlocks, black gums, maples and oaks are stunning standouts in a spectacular forest coastline.
Mount Kineo sits next to Moosehead Lake and after a precarious hike to the top it reveals its death-defying views of an old fire tower that has been converted into a viewing platform. The boat across from Moosehead Lake makes this a slightly different trip from the others, and after passing a golf club, you can get on the trail to the peak. Your effort on this trickier hike will be rewarded, as it leads to what is certainly a view to remember.