The Park Loop Road (Ocean Drive) in Acadia National Park winter is open for car travel from Schooner Head Road to Otter Creek Road, but you’ll see precious few vehicles compared to the high summer season. Given that, winter is a wonderful time to hike the Ocean Path along Frenchman Bay, taking in Sand Beach, Thunder Hole and Otter Cliff as you go. The path and parallel road are yours for the enjoying from December to early April.
A couple years ago I wrote about hiking the Ocean Path, which has become my favorite hike in the park in the off season. Beach, cliffs, mountains, pounding surf, birds and animals, bay and islands views, thick spruce forests, the walk embodies so much of what we all love about Acadia. Read about that great fall hike here: The autumn pace of an Acadia hike.
I was out there on the Ocean Path recently, just after a big storm. Here are some images of that day. And below that are photos and brief descriptions of five other terrific hikes along the Maine coast, from York County and Casco Bay to the Midcoast and Downeast. Oh, and a bonus Acadia hike. Enjoy!
Protected by the Great Works Regional Land Trust, Bauneg Beg Mountain in North Berwick is the only major mountaintop in York County without a communications tower. Hike the half-mile trail to the top for far-reaching views north and west to the snow-capped Presidential Range.
The wilder sections of the 10-mile long Forest City Trail across Portland offer some fine solitude and many hours and miles of great hiking. The winding Stroudwater River, the salt marshes of the Fore River Preserve and the hemlock groves along the Presumpscot River beckon urban adventurers in winter.
Explore the undeveloped shorelines of two 1800s’ reservoirs on the Little River Community Trail, which wanders through the wooded wilds just minutes from downtown Belfast. Formerly the city’s public water supply, the man-made lakes and their surroundings are rich with bird and animal life.
Acadia National Park
The biggest bang for your hiking buck in Acadia is a traverse of Cadillac Mountain, a six-mile trek over the South Ridge and North Ridge Trails. From Eagle Crag to the lower part of the Cadillac Mountain Road, you’re mostly out in the open on the alpine-like terrain. Go now before the summer tourists start crowding the top!
Meander along the crescent beach on Englishman Bay at Roque Bluffs State Park in the tiny coastal enclave of Roque Bluffs. Then shoulder the daypack and head off into the quiet beauty of the park’s trail system, which leads over a wooded hilltop to a shorefront vista at Rose Ledge.
MORE INFO: These hikes and 44 more are described in AMCs new guidebook, Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast, which gives hikers a detailed look at the best trails from the Maine beaches to Downeast Maine.