8 Must-Visit State Parks in Maine (2023)
Maine’s natural beauty is no secret; the state has always been known for its vivid ecological spread. Pine Tree State is home to a wealth of 32 State Parks and over 500,000 acres of preserved land for both knowns and unknowns. One can expect plenty of natural beauty, outdoor pursuits, scenic landscapes, panoramic vistas, recreational opportunities, history, wildlife, and an unending stretch of peace and tranquility. Maine is located directly off the Atlantic Coast and is blessed with some really iconic but hidden gems directly under your nose.
Maine, the Vacationland of North America, is a go-to place for nature wanderers. You may be a lighthouse lover, a wildlife watcher, a coast explorer, a history enthusiast, or an admirer of different seasons; Maine’s State Parks have truly got that all for you. Whether you make it a day trip or pack your backpacks for an adventurous journey, ways of exploration are undoubtedly endless. So what are you waiting for? Are you ready to experience Maine’s beauty and vastness? If yes, then join us in finding the Best State Parks in Maine.
8 Must-Visit State Parks in Maine
Have a look:
1. Aroostook State Park
Aroostook State Park in Presque Isle operates year-round and is a must-visit State Park in Maine. The Park sits right adjacent to Echo Lake and covers 898 acres of the twin peak ‘Of Quaggy Jo Mountain’. A visit to Aroostook offers delightful recreational opportunities along with a sense of peace. Unlike many Maine State Parks, it operates throughout the year, offering different adventure opportunities. Enthusiasts can go swimming, fishing, boating, paddle-boating, canoeing, biking, hiking, and picnicking during the no-snow seasons. Whereas one snowfall begins, Aroostook State Park transforms into an outdoor playground for activities like snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Regular camping and winter camping too are some popular opportunities to grab here. For the lesser knowns, the State Park is also home to the Nordic Heritage Center and the Double Eagle II Memorial Park (the first successful trans-Atlantic balloon flight’s launch site).
2. Quoddy Head State Park
Quoddy Head State Park welcomes travelers to its rugged 541-acre coastal spread. The State Park is just 4 miles off Maine State Route 189 in Lubec on the easternmost point of land in the continental United States. Operating between May 15th to October 15th, it is a seasonal day-use park that offers an equal amount of recreation, scenic vistas, and heritage. It is home to Maine’s famous landmark, the striking, red-and-white striped lighthouse tower of West Quoddy Head Light. Not functional anymore, but visitors can still reach its grounds, explore the museum facility and observe the lighthouse for its outdoor beauty. During Equinoxes, the lighthouse becomes the first location to experience Sunrise in the entire United States. The State Park besides that is also popular for its five miles of hiking trails, a diverse habitat for rare plants, and extensive forests and woodlands. The trails here will take you through the scenic beauty, along with natural and cultural history, in a slightly strenuous but exciting way. The State Park is also a popular place for picnickers and whale watchers.
3. Baxter State Park
No Maine State Park list is complete without mentioning Baxter State Park in it. One of the Best State Parks in Maine, Baxter is arguably the most beautiful as well. This magnificent natural obsession covers 209,501 acres of wilderness along with Maine’s highest peak, Mount Katadhin. Baxter experiences growing popularity every year, leading to nearly one million annual visitors approximately. The State Park has so much to do, of which the most famous is hiking to the 5267 feet summit of Mount Katahdin. With 215 miles of trails, over 40 peaks, several waterbodies, and campgrounds, the experience of exploring this wilderness are truly amazing. Other popular activities to try in Baxter State Park includes Canoeing, Kayaking, Picnicking, Fishing, Hunting, Rock Climbing, Dirt Road Biking, and ATVing. The State Park is also home to a diverse population of wildlife, and it is common to spot moose, black beer, white-tailed deer, etc., here. The Park also boasts an avian population and thus draws bird enthusiasts year-round.
4. Camden Hills State Park
Another Popular State Park in Maine, Camden Hills State Park, is next on our list. Though it boasts every single aspect of what a State Park offers, what’s particularly popular here is bird watching and bird photography. From waking up to lying down at night, Camden Hills always live with birds chirping all across. Some common avians to spot here include hawks, blue herons, ospreys, bald eagles, and more. The State Park is also home to multi-use trails (hiking, biking, and horseback riding), the 800-foot-high Mount Battie, the 1,385-foot-high Mount Megunticook, the historic 12-year-old Elenora French monument, and more attractive opportunities. By hiking the hills here, one can grab astounding views of Camden Harbor and Penobscot Bay. During winter, Camden Hills turns into an open playground for activities like snowmobilers, cross-country skiers, and snowshoeing.
5. Popham Beach State Park
For exploring Maine’s longest sandy beaches, visit Popham Beach, State Park. This public recreational area covers 605 acres in Sagadahoc County, in the town of Phippsburg, just 15 minutes from downtown Bath. The State Park is popular for a range of things, from its rare geologic landform to excellent beach opportunities and other kinds of recreation. A visit here allows individuals to spend an excellent time at the three-mile-long Popham Beach, where they can swim, surf, kayak, body-board, beach comb, fish, and experience whatnot. During low tide days, individuals can also exceed Fox Island by foot. For exploring more, the options stretch from Seguin Island (known for housing Maine’s highest and second oldest lighthouse) and the splendid ocean vistas of Wood Island. Historic sites, including Fort Baldwin, Fort Popham, and the remains of the Popham Colony too, are a prominent part of the Park. Though the State Park operates year-round, night entry at several of its regions is restricted.
6. Birch Point State Park
Birch Point State Park is a very popular State Park in Maine that every nature enthusiast must visit. Located in Owls Head, the State Park is a secluded hideaway, literally off the beaten path. Though Birch Point is popular for its stunning views of Penobscot Bay and other islands, simultaneously, it is also known for its recreational opportunities. The State Park, though smaller, it allows visitors to indulge in swimming, hiking, cycling, picnic, fishing, birdwatching, and more such activities. Though the Park is only seasonally open (during summers) between Memorial Day and Labor Day, staying overnight here isn’t allowed. It, though, is a great day visit spot but definitely not a property for camping or overnight exploration. However, consider staying back at Birch Point till evening and enjoy the sight of the sun settling down right into the water, which is mesmerizingly beautiful.
7. Bradbury Mountain State Park
Maine’s one of the original five state parks, the Bradbury Mountain State Park, definitely deserves a visit. This 800 acres State Park operates year-round, usually from 9 am until sunset (or as posted at the gate). The Park is settled between Portland and Lewiston-Auburn on Route 9 and is quite a popular place amongst locals and people of a neighboring state. The highlight and most outstanding feature of the State Park is, of course, Bradbury Mountain, sculpted by nature, with both flat and narrow paths. Even when it is just under 500 feet, Bradbury Mountain provides some enchanting views of the nearby landscape. The Park features multiple trails that one can choose from depending on the level of difficulty. It is also the only State Park and region in Maine that provides shared-use trails for horseback riding, mountain biking, and snowmobiling. Though the State Park is a year-round attraction, the best time to be here is during Spring, mid-March through mid-May.
8. Rangeley Lake State Park
Rangeley Lake State Park is located in the heart of Maine Western Mountain. Encompassing 869 acres, the State Park has always been a popular spot amongst locals as well as tourists. Known for its picturesque landscapes and adventure opportunity, the Rangeley Lake State Park host lakhs of visitors every single year. Its centerpiece is, of course, the 10 acres namesake lake that welcomes people for its excellent fishing opportunities. Lake’s cool, clear waters also allow individuals to swim, and some popular swimming areas include Rangeley Village and South Shore Drive. Similarly, during winter, the lake’s nearby area offers opportunities for four-wheeling and snowmobiling. The Rangeley Lake State Park also boasts 50 well-spaced camping sites close to the lakeshore. It even features a picnic area, a trailer-able boat launch, and a kid’s playground.
Things to know before visiting a State Park in Maine
Not all State Parks in Maine are all-season; therefore, before you visit one, make sure it is open and operational. Most of the Maine State Park operates during summer between Memorial Day and Labor Day only.
- Various State Parks in Maine is only meant for a day visit, and staying longer than sunset isn’t allowed/advisable.
- While hiking, play it safe and consider your fitness level before accessing any trail.
- For navigation, don’t rely on cell connectivity but download the NPS Application. Also, make sure you downtown the map/ navigation menu for offline usage as well since networks are unavailable in many regions.
- Always protect and lease your pet.
- Be cautious about plants since anything can prove poisonous.
- Carry drinking water, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a hat along.
- Stay aware of your surroundings, especially of the Carriage roads.
- Drive responsibly for both humans and wildlife.
- For a night stay (at a campground etc.), make sure you make a reservation first.
- When arriving at Maine’s State or National Parks, arrive with a plan and a backup plan as well.