Fall Foliage Maine Road Trip

Maine fall colors also features brightly colored red, orange, and yellow blueberry fields

Maine fall colors also features brightly colored red, orange, and yellow blueberry fields

When is the BEST time to see fall colors in Maine?

A lot of people will tell you that fall is the best time to visit Maine so I’m lucky that I got to road trip around the coast of Maine in autumn for a whole month. The best month to see the fall foliage in New England area is October. Of course, the time to see peak fall colors varies each year but the first two weeks of October are a good bet for seeing peak autumn foliage in Maine.

 

New England fall foliage reflection in the water - a beautiful mirror image

New England fall foliage reflection in the water – a beautiful mirror image

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If you are planning on driving to Maine and have some flexibility then you should check the fall foliage maps. There you can find a fall color map indicating what percentage of fall leaves have turned. They provide a weekly fall foliage report to help you best plan the timing of your trip to Maine.

 

Fall foliage brings intense shades of yellow and orange contrasting with green leaves in Maine

Fall foliage brings intense shades of yellow and orange contrasting with green leaves in Maine

 

You’ll notice on any foliage map that the coastal region is the last area in Maine to reach peak fall colors. Typically the northern inland areas of Maine reach peak colors first and gradually it shifts south, except for the coast of Maine.

 

Fall scenery in Maine - a barn and farmland plus colorful blueberry fields

Fall scenery in Maine – a barn and farmland plus colorful blueberry fields are not uncommon

 

How to get to Maine

The biggest airport in Maine, Portland International Jetport, is located just a few miles from downtown Portland, on the southern coast of Maine. The airport code is PWM. The major American airlines flying into Portland Maine are: American, Delta, and United.

If you are driving from New York City it’s 315 miles to Portland Maine, about a 5 hour drive. And driving from Philadelphia to Portland is 400 miles and takes about 6 hours 30 minutes. Boston to Portland Maine is 110 miles and takes about 1 hour 45 minutes to drive.

 

Maine in the fall with leaves starting to change color and boats in the harbor

Maine in the fall with leaves starting to change color and boats in the harbor

 

Where to Stay in Maine

I think the midcoast area is the best place to stay in Maine because then you have the option to travel in four different directions – of course if you go east it is via boat! If you are flying into Portland (PWM) then it may make sense to stay in Portland for a night, then head north.

Check prices and availability Hotels in Midcoast Maine (including Belfast, Camden, Lincolnville, Rockland, Searsport)

Find the latest deals on Hotels in Bar Harbor Maine (Acadia National Park)

Get the latest rates and deals on Hotels in Portland Maine

 

Fall foliage in Belfast Maine looks brilliant against the blue sky and a weathered building

Fall foliage in Belfast Maine looks brilliant against the blue sky and a weathered building

 

How Many Days for a Maine Road Trip?

You can do a lot on a long weekend road trip in Maine. But how long you spend in Maine depends on where you want to explore. If you want to visit both coastal and inland areas, then you need at least 3 to 4 days in Maine but preferably a week. If you just want to see the fall colors and you are pressed for time you could do a 1 or 2 day road trip through Maine, but why rush?

 

A dog enjoys a swim in the pond while waiting to get in the canoe for an autumn paddling trip

A dog enjoys a swim in the pond while waiting to get in the canoe for an autumn paddling trip

 

Many people focus on driving the Maine coastline because of the beautiful scenery, picturesque small towns and harbors, abundant seafood, boating opportunities, and the ease of planning and organizing such a trip. Highway 1 goes from Fort Kent Maine all the way down the east coast to Key West Florida!

 

A dog gets to play in the pond with a backdrop of beautiful fall leaves reflecting on the water

A dog gets to play in the pond with a backdrop of beautiful fall leaves reflecting on the water

 

Distances and Driving Times

As you can see from the information below, the driving times for the more scenic coastal route on Hwy 1 will take a little longer. I much prefer a slower but scenic road trip than taking the interstate highways. But if you are short on time or want to stop in to visit Augusta, the capital of Maine, it makes sense to take interstate I-95 rather than scenic highway 1.

 

New England fall means the leaves start changing to bright colors of yellow, orange, and red

New England fall means the leaves start changing to bright colors of yellow, orange, and red

Distances and driving times for Maine road trip

  • Bar Harbor to Rockland Maine via Hwy 1 – 85 miles – driving time 2 hours
  • Bar Harbor to Portland Maine via I-95/I-295 – 175 miles – driving time 3 hours
  • Bar Harbor to Portland Maine via Hwy 1 – 165 miles – driving time 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Belfast to Acadia National Park – 55 miles – driving time 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Belfast to Camden Maine – 18 miles – driving time 25 minutes
  • Belfast to Rockland Maine – 25 miles – driving time 45 minutes
  • Portland to Belfast Maine (via Augusta) – 100 miles – driving time 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Portland to Belfast Maine via Hwy 1 – 105 miles – driving time 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Portland to Acadia National Park via Hwy 1 – 165 miles – driving time 3 hours 30 minutes

 

Bright red leaves of the Burning Bush - scientific name: euonymus alatus

Bright red leaves of the Burning Bush – scientific name: euonymus alatus

 

Best Places to see the Fall Foliage in Maine

Some of the best places to see fall foliage in Maine are along the water, small lakes or ponds provide stunning reflections of the fall leaves. As you can see in my photos from a kayaking trip at Knights Pond, near Belfast Maine, the pond reflects a mirror image of the autumn foliage.

 

Kayaking with fall foliage and the incredible reflection of the trees on the water

Kayaking with fall foliage and the incredible reflection of the trees on the water

 

Another great place for leaf peeping is up on a mountaintop. Go hiking up the Scenic Lookout at Camden State Park for panoramic views or take the scenic drive to Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park. Note that fog and clouds are something to consider with New England climate, so check the weather reports for Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. I thought I would get to see the beautiful views from  Cadillac Mountain, but clouds totally obscured the view. I took a hike around Jordan Pond instead and consoled myself with a delicious lunch of scallops and popovers at Jordan Pond House restaurant.

 

Fall foliage in New England also means brightly colored blueberry bushes

Fall foliage in New England also means brightly colored blueberry bushes

 

What else is there to do in Maine?

Plenty! Maine is wonderful for outdoor activities from fishing and boating to hiking and mushroom foraging. Fall is the perfect time to sample some of Maine’s delicious apple cider. After staying in midcoast Maine I wrote about all the things to do in Belfast Maine, which also includes several fun day trips along the coast.

 

Rowing at Belfast Harbor in Maine during October fall foliage season

Rowing at Belfast Harbor in Maine during October fall foliage season

 

There are lots of places to see on a coastal road trip with all the quaint small towns along the way. You can also go camping or hiking at Camden Hills State Park. Explore beautiful Acadia National Park near Bar Harbor. You’ll find there are lots of fun things to do in Maine while on your fall foliage tour.

 

A large gray wasp's nest hanging from a tree during autumn in Maine

A large gray wasp’s nest hanging from a tree during autumn in Maine

 

Maine road trip in fall, sighting of a weathered barn and a tree with bright red leaves

Maine road trip in fall, sighting of a weathered barn and a tree with bright red leaves

 

Fall colors on the New England coast - red, green, and brilliant yellow leaves

Fall colors on the New England coast – red, green, and brilliant yellow leaves

 

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Fall in LOVE with Maine fall colors New England USA

 

New England road trip in autumn for peak foliage time

 

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About the Author

Susan Moore spent 7 months traveling around Southeast Asia back in the 90's. Returning to Canada she found a job working on rotation in Siberia Russia. She later moved to Austin Texas where she started a bookkeeping business, allowing her to work remotely. Currently Susan is in year 4 of living a nomadic life, roadtripping around the USA and Canada and writing about her experiences with a focus on hiking and cultural encounters. Read all about Susan » You can reach Susan Moore at Facebook or Twitter or Instagram

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