A Fall Foliage Scenic Drive in Maine
By Cliff Calderwood
Fall foliage scenic drives in Maine
are varied and include coastal drives
around Acadia National Park and the rocky coastline of upper Northern Maine to
Baxter State park region, to some of the larger lakes in the state. Many of the
scenic drives emphasize the rugged wilderness of thick forests and impressive
mountain terrain of the Maine back country.
Maine is one of the most heavily forested states in the nation, containing more
than 17 million acres of natural beauty, hikes and magnificent summer scenic
One of the drives is nicknamed "The Lakes and Leaves" and I’ve chosen it
because it’s especially stunning in fall foliage season.
The "Lakes and Leaves" route follows a 218-mile loop through central west
Maine along the lower western shore of Moosehead Lake, and then runs parallel
with the tree-lined banks of the Kennebec River. It’s best experienced over a few
days rather than a one-day excursion trip, and lodging reservations are
recommended during the popular fall foliage season.
Let’s get you started...
In the first part of the tour you’ll wind your way towards the town of Greenville
on the southern tip of Moosehead Lake. Begin the tour in the town of Skowhegan
by taking Route 150 to Route 151 in Athens. Follow Route 151 west to Newport
where you’ll pick up Route 7 to Dover-Foxcroft. Take Route 6 to Guilford, and
then follow Route 6/15 north to Greenville.
At Greenville stop and relax for a bit.
Greenville is a center for those seeking the pastimes of hunting, fishing, hiking
and boating in the area. It’s also home to a number of attractions in the area. One
such attraction is the 110-foot SS Katahdin, a popular steamship that cruises on
Moosehead Lake during the summer and through fall foliage. It leaves from the
center of Greenville. The views from the ship are dramatic and worth the extra
A 20-mile excursion east of Greenville takes you to beautiful Gulf Hagas.
This is a stunning three-mile-long gorge, with waterfalls, water chutes, deep
pools, and vertical walls 300 feet tall in places. The hike is especially scenic
during fall foliage. For those spreading this scenic drive over multiple days this
is a must-do side trip.
The Greenville area also boasts splendid hikes along the close by Appalachian
Trail, and is the preferred stop over town in the area if you’re intending to do any
of the excursions over multiple days. Like most lodging in New England during
the fall season ... book early.
The scenic drive continues along Route 6/15 passing Big Squaw Mountain and
Ski Area on the left, and winding along the Moosehead Lake shore to the village
of Rockwood. Once at Rockwood you’ll see across the water the imposing Mount
Kineo with its sheer cliff face rising over 700 feet from the deepest point in
Stay on Route 6/15 and head west to Jackman. This 30-mile portion of the scenic
drive is all about Maine wilderness.
You’ll find plenty of opportunities to stop and admire the fall foliage views in
the hills and on scenic lookouts across the lakes and ponds along the road.
Just south of Jackman Route 6/15 will connect with Route 201, and you’ll follow
Route 201 south towards The Forks along the National Scenic Byway. Jackman is
a canoeing center, famous for the 42-mile Moose River Bow Trip.
The canoe trip takes two or more days and is a favorite of outdoor enthusiasts. It’
s one of the few remaining wilderness canoe trips in the Northeast, and
organized tours are run by local operators.
Continue on Route 201 south to The Forks where the Kennebec and Dead Rivers
meet. The Forks is base for popular and awe-inspiring whitewater rafting trips on
the two rivers.
A few miles west of The Forks is Moxie Falls, at 90-feet one of the tallest
waterfalls in New England.
The scenic drive continues south on Route 201 to Bingham. This stretch of the
road follows the Kennebec River through Caratunk, offering magnificent views of
the river and surrounding hills, and is one of the best fall foliage sections on this
tour. Stop on occasions and marvel at the way the river has carved out such
wonderful scenery for us to admire. If you’ve got a camera -- use it!
Follow Route 201 back to Skowhegan to complete the tour.
Unlike other scenic drives in New England this one’s main attraction is the
natural beauty of the Maine wilderness, rather than villages and towns or other
historic monuments. This is a drive to build an outdoor vacation around, but it
also makes an ideal fall foliage weekend jaunt.
For more details on these and other Maine scenic drives and to grab your free
valuable travel reports go to Cliff's vacations guide to New England at:
New England Vacations Guide.
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