If you’re looking for a fun fall hike this autumn, head to The Maine Highlands. The temperature and humidity are at comfortable levels and the mosquitoes are gone. But the best part is the foliage. Be sure to bring along your camera or smartphone to snap some gorgeous photos.
Level: Easy, Moderate
Length: 3.8 miles round trip
Directions: This hike is only reachable by boat. To catch the ferry at the Rockwood Town Landing, take Route 15 through the center of Greenville 15 miles to Rockwood. Follow signs to the Town Landing. The shuttle leaves regularly from May through October. The shuttle fee is $12 per person and is cash only.
As far as fall hikes go, this one is fun for kids and adults alike. There are several trails on the peninsula, and all of them eventually lead to the summit. Climb the fire tower for sweeping views of Moosehead Lake.
Number 4 Mountain
Length: 3.4 miles round trip
Directions: The trailhead is located about 18 miles north of the center of Greenville. Follow signs to Lily Bay State Park. About 4.7 miles past the entrance to the park, take a right onto Meadow Brook Road (gravel). Turn left about 1.7 miles later, then left again about 2.2 miles later. Park on the right.
This trail takes you to the now-abandoned Number 4 Mountain fire tower. Walk in the footsteps of fire wardens who used to staff the tower. The trail starts off flat, then climbs steadily. The top offers views of Baker Mountain, Lily Bay Mountain, and Moosehead Lake.
Elephant Mountain: B-52 Crash Site
Elevation: 2,636 feet (Elephant Mountain – no trail reaches the summit)
Length: 1-mile round trip
Directions: From downtown Greenville, head north on Lily Bay Road. In 6.7 miles, turn right onto Prong Pond Road. Drive 1.8 miles and bear right. Drive 3.8 miles and bear right, again. A trailhead will be on your left.
On January 24, 1936, a B-52 crashed into the side of Elephant Mountain, killing seven men on board of the aircraft and injuring two. The plane was flying from Westover Air Force Base in Massachusetts on a practice flight. This fall hike offers some extra intrigue: the pieces of the crash remain at the scene as a memorial.
Elevation: 1,974 feet
Length: 1.6 miles – Base Trail and Summit Trail
Directions: Take Route 15 through Monson and turn right past the town on Elliotsville Road. Drive 8 miles, then take a left onto Bodfish Road/Mountain Road. The parking lot for the trailhead will be after the railroad tracks.
This mountain is located in the Borestone Mountain Audubon Sanctuary at the southern end of the 100 Mile Wilderness. Hike up the Base Trail to the visitor center and sign in. This visitor center is the start of the various trails within the sanctuary. If you’re heading to the summit, take the Summit Trail. It starts off relatively flat but turns steep toward the top. You’ll have to use your hands and feet to scramble. Don’t be fooled at the top…there is a false peak! Keep following the trail to the real summit for expansive views.
Elevation: 3,671 feet
Length: 7.5 miles round trip
Directions: Take Route 15 through Monson and turn right past the town on Elliotsville Road. Drive 8 miles, then take a left onto Bodfish Road/Mountain Road. Cross a bridge and then take a left onto a gravel road. Otter Pond will be visible on your right. The trail begins at the end of this road.
This trail is known to be one of the most difficult sections of the Appalachian Trail. Located in the famed 100 Mile Wilderness, this trail is steep and remote. If you’re looking for a challenging fall hike…this is it. There are two spots that offer amazing views: Barren Slide and Barren Ledges. Both offer views of Lake Onawa and Borestone Mountain.
Milo/Brownville Junction Area
Level: Moderate, Advanced
Elevation: 500 feet – no major elevation
Length: 8.6 miles round trip on the Rim Trail
Directions: From Brownville Junction take Route 11 north for about 3.5 miles. You’ll see the Katahdin Ironwork Road on the left. It’s about 6.5 miles to the KI Gatehouse. Stop and pay the fee, which varies depending on if you are a Maine resident or not. The gatekeeper will direct you to the Gulf Hagas parking area. It’s a good idea to pick up a trail map, as there are many trail junctures that can be confusing. They’re sold for $2 at the Gatehouse.
Gulf Hagas, while remote, beckons hikers from all over due to the natural beauty and series of waterfalls, thanks to the West Branch of the Pleasant River. Be prepared for this fall hike with sturdy footwear, as the rocks can be slippery. You’ll also have to cross a river (no bridge), so water shoes are also recommended. Don’t want to hike the entire Rim Trail? Hike to Screw Auger Falls and back out. That’s about 3 miles round trip.
Katahdin Stream Falls
Elevation: 1,100 feet
Length: 2 miles round trip
Directions: From Millinocket, take Baxter Park Road about 16 miles to the Togue Pond Gatehouse. Bear left and travel the Park Tote Road for 7.8 miles. Park at Katadhin Stream Campground in the day-use lot.
This is a scenic hike that is good for the whole family. It takes you to the base of Katahdin and the northernmost bridge on the Appalachian Trail. As this trail is in Baxter State Park, park rules must be adhered to.