A Fall Foliage Guide From the Maine Office of Tourism
AUGUSTA, Maine, Aug. 24 /PRNewswire/ — Planning a fall foliage trip to Maine? Here’s what you need to know. The leaves show their color first in the extreme north, then in the western mountains and central valleys, and lastly in eastern, coastal and southern locations. When does foliage reach its peak? That’s up to the weather, which can speed up or delay the transformation of leaf pigment due to a number of factors.
Peak foliage can’t be predicted, but one thing is certain: anyone visiting Maine from the last week of September to the third week of October will see trees showing off the yellow, orange, red and purple hues that have made Maine a top destination for leaf-peepers, according to the Maine Office of Tourism. Here are a few more reasons why Maine is so popular in the fall, and some suggestions on how to enjoy the dazzling display of colors throughout the state.
Strength (and more color) in numbers: With 17 million acres of forest, Maine has more land covered by trees than any other state in the country. Maine’s coastline, inland valleys, rivers, lakes and mountains are home to 76 tree species, 52 of which are the hardwood leaf-producing variety. Autumn’s most photogenic stars like the sugar maple, oak, elm, birch and ash are all native to the state. Even the Maine Turnpike is lined with beautiful foliage during October.
Drives with a view: Maine’s nine state and national scenic byways take travelers through some of the state’s best locations for viewing foliage from the road. In the western mountains region, the Rangeley Lakes National Scenic Byway begins on Route 17 in Byron and traverses north to its namesake waterway. The must-stop turnout along this route is about 10 miles in at Height of Land. This panoramic overlook offers a view of five lakes and the colorful mountainsides that surround them.
In northern Maine, the State Route 11 Scenic Byway winds between two mountains and two lakes and follows the Fish River to the historic town of Fort Kent.
Ride the rails: For those who need more leg room or a glass of wine while taking in Maine’s foliage, there’s a passenger train waiting at the station. Maine Eastern Railroad serves the state’s Midcoast region between Brunswick and Rockland with a fleet of restored Art Deco-era excursion trains. Day trips depart Wednesday through Sunday and offer some of the best foliage viewing along Maine’s world-famous rocky coast. Visit http://www.maineeasternrailroad.com/ (or call 866-637-2457) for more information.
In central Maine, the Belfast and Moosehead Lake Railroad Preservation Society operates a passenger train on an eight-mile stretch of rail between the towns of Unity and Burnham. Riding behind the 1913 Swedish built steam engine “Spirit of Unity,” travelers can enjoy the spectacular scenery on rides Thursday through Sunday. For more information, visit http://www.unitytrainmuseum.org/.
Great parks with great hikes: It’s no accident that Maine’s state parks are located in some of the state’s most scenic coastal and woodland settings. Here are a few that offer excellent hiking trails through and to fabulous foliage. Bradbury Mountain State Park on Route 9 in Pownal near Freeport, Camden Hills State Park on Route 1 in Camden, Mount Blue State Park off Route 156 in Weld, Grafton Notch State Park on Route 26 near Newry, and Aroostook State Park off Route 1 near Presque Isle. For more information on these and other state parks or historic sites in Maine, visit http://www.maine.gov/doc/parks.
The fruits of fall: Leaves aren’t the only colorful attractions dotting Maine’s landscape during autumn. Farm stands and orchards offer pumpkins, gourds, fresh pressed cider and a variety of delicious apples. Many farms offer hay rides, corn field mazes, animal petting areas and other activities for children. To find a farm or orchard near a foliage destination, visit http://www.getrealmaine.com/.
Leaf-peeper central: Maine’s best resource for foliage updates, information and travel suggestions is http://www.mainefoliage.com/. The Web site is operated by the Maine Department of Conservation and provides a weekly overview of foliage conditions throughout the state beginning the third week of September until Oct. 25. A foliage forum allows locals and visitors to share their observations about the annual changing of colors. Also featured on the site is “live help” which will be available during the season to answer foliage-related questions.
For more information about accommodations or events taking place in Maine this fall, log on to http://www.visitmaine.com/ or call 1-888-624-6345.