With the fall foliage season quickly approaching, we wanted to share some of our favorite must see DownEast Maine scenic drives with you:
Park Loop Road – Acadia National Park (Mount Desert Island, ME)
Rugged, bold and absolutely spectacular! This is a drive that never disappoints. The Park Loop Road is one of the most beautiful scenic drives in the country. Beginning at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center, the loop is 27 miles. During this drive, you find yourself peacefully driving under a canopy of trees and then, without warning, the trees clear and you are struck by the magnificence of the sweeping open ocean before you. Popular stops like Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, Otter Cliffs, Wildwood Stables, Jordan Pond House and Cadillac Mountain are a must. I highly recommend stopping at The Jordan Pond House for afternoon tea and popovers.
Route 175 – Blue Hill
There is such diversity to this drive. Beautiful quiet inlets, quaint coastal towns and even the peak of Caterpillar Hill, where you have an amazing panoramic view over Walker’s Pond, the islands of Penobscot Bay and the Camden Hills. This drive begins in the small coastal village of Blue Hill and ends in Orland. You will pass through Brooklin, the boatbuilding capital of the world, where the famous Wooden Boat School and magazine are located. Be sure to take a left at the Brooklin General Store and follow the road 3 ½ miles out to the end of the peninsula. This is where the Revolutionary War Battle of Naskeag occurred in 1778. You will have beautiful views out to Blue Hill Bay and a nice spot for a picnic. You will also pass through the towns of Sedgwick, Eggemoggen, Sargentville, Brooksville, Penobscot, ending in Orland. Plan a few hours for the drive so you have plenty of time to explore.
Route 186 – Gouldsboro
Follow Route 1 North on the Schoodic National Scenic Byway. In Gouldsboro you will see the signs for Route 186. Take a right and you will find yourself on a 16 mile loop that’ll take you through some beautiful working harbors. Be sure to visit Acadia National Parks Schoodic Peninsula along this drive, a one-way loop that offers incredible views towards Mount Desert Island, and bring a picnic as there are lots of places to lay out your blanket. Some of the towns that you will pass through on this drive are West and East Gouldsboro, Winter Harbor and Prospect Harbor.
Route 182 – Franklin to Cherryfield (The Blackwoods Scenic Byway)
Taking a step away from the ocean, this drive brings you through the blueberry barrens, rivers and mountains of DownEast Maine. Referred to as the Blackwoods Scenic Byway, you are likely to see moose, wild turkey and maybe even a black bear along this route—so be on the lookout! The route travels for about 24 miles and passes Tunk Mountain and Lake. There are some great places to stop for a nice fall foliage picture. Be sure to research the Legend of Catherine’s Hill before you take your journey. Who knows, she may ask you for a ride and, as legend would have it, you better say yes! I highly recommend a stop at the Franklin Trading Post at the start of your drive. It's a real Maine experience!
(This article was previously published in USA Today on October 14, 2014)
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