From mountains to lakes to winding roads, Maine is a leaf peeper’s haven. Long trips are always a great idea, but a scenic drive is arguably the most hassle-free (and warm) way to enjoy the fall foliage. Luckily, Maine has no shortage of breathtaking drives. What’s more, active visitors can find an endless selection of things to do and see along these routes, too. History, culture, wildlife, adventurous hikes, and local artisan shops are waiting to greet travelers at every turn. These 10 scenic fall foliage drives offer something Spectacular for every traveler and can be found in every corner of the state. Don’t miss Maine’s breathtaking sights this fall. The magic of autumn lives here.
10 Acadia All-American Scenic Road
The Acadia All-American Scenic Road bisects the state’s major fall foliage destination – Acadia National Park. This route also loops around Bar Harbor on Mount Dessert Island, offering an awe-inspiring overview of the area. Travelers can access other scenic byways by connecting to Route 1 within just a few miles of the northern terminus of this scenic drive. The coastal views along this route are not to be missed in the fall when trees alight with crimson and gold are painted against the dusky blue Atlantic Ocean.
This scenic byway (Route 1) winds its way along the Maine Coast and into New Brunswick, Canada. In Maine, travelers can glimpse quaint New England scenes like lobster boats and lighthouses. The state’s more rugged coastal terrain is also on full display. A drive along the Schoodic Scenic Byway is a perfect route for travelers that want to intimately experience the Maine Coastline.
8 Rangeley Lakes
Adventurous rovers can combine the Rangeley Lakes Scenic Byway with a hike in Small Falls. The route requires a little eagle-eye navigating, starting on Route 7 and continuing to Route 16, then take Route 4 south to the Small Falls trailhead. This arch-shaped route allows visitors to see Rangeley Lake from multiple sides and to catch the picturesque views from multiple angles. Travelers not keen on a hike can completely circumnavigate the lake, taking South Shore Road back to Highway 17, where the route began.
7 Old Canada Road (Route 201)
Old Canada Road Scenic Byway takes visitors through the Kennebec River Valley. While it’s perfect for a simple drive-through, there’s much more waiting for adventurous leaf-peepers. In addition to scenic overlooks, visitors can get into the action with stops to hike, find hidden waterfalls, and splash into a variety of water sports. Exploring the valley is an excellent and easy way to extend a scenic drive into a full-fledged outdoor adventure. Travelers can begin or end the route at the Wyman Dam and Wyman Lake to admire the blazing colors reflecting on the lake.
6 Million Dollar View
Another section of Route 1, Million Dollar View Scenic Byway, is perfect for nature lovers hoping to get a glimpse of wild animals in their natural habitat. This route is easily added to the Acadia All-American Scenic Road to create a longer road trip experience along the eastern and coastal boundaries of Maine. Brackett and Longfellow Lakes are two hidden gems tucked just off the route. It’s well worth a stop to enjoy the untamed beauty of these twin lakes.
The Blackwoods Scenic Drive runs from the town of Milbridge on Narraguagus Bay, intersects the Arcadia All American Road Scenic Byway, and continues parallel to that road through the Tunk Mountain area along Route 182. The ideal location means it’s very easy for travelers to connect multiple scenic drives and outdoor activities into a long road trip through the state. The Blackwoods Scenic Drive is just outside the Arcadia region, making it an ideal option for leaf-peepers attempting to avoid crowds.
4 Katahdin Woods And Waters Scenic Byway
Explore the wild heart of Maine along this central byway. Mt. Katahdin and its lush surroundings are the perfect places to enjoy the state’s natural fall beauty from the window of a vehicle or in a kayak on the water. The Katahdin Woods and Waters Scenic Bay offers easy access to both experiences. This byway is not just visually stunning but also lined with historical sites, museums, lakes, and trails. Visitors can take it easy and enjoy a fall foliage drive or go on a variety of more active adventures. Variety may be the spice of life, but it’s the spice of this scenic byway.
3 Pequawket Trail
The Pequawket Trail Scenic Drive runs through the Saco River Valley. Also known as Route 113, this scenic drive is 60 miles of craft workshops, outdoor adventures, and untamed beauty. The north-south route is located in Western Maine and is a great place to start a fall road trip through the state. Just before the road intersects Route 117, travelers can alight and go for a brief hike on the Mt. Cutler Trails. This network of moderate trails - all under a mile long - is just right for immersing in the fall colors up close and stretching the legs after a long drive.
2 Saint John Valley Cultural Byway
Travelers looking for a unique experience can begin exploring the Saint John Valley Scenic Byway at the Allagash Historical Society to learn about the Acadian history along the route. The scenic journey leads along much of Maine’s northern border with Canada. Leaf peeping in two countries at once is a unique experience, so travelers should not miss this scenic autumn drive. History buffs will enjoy the multiple historical stops along the way, including the Acadian Village, where visitors can step back in time to learn about the culture of early French-Americans in the area.
1 Grafton Notch Scenic Road
On its own or as part of a day of hiking in Grafton Notch State Park, this scenic drive is well worth the ride. As Route 26, Grafton Notch Scenic Road is a rural route that winds its way along Bear River and through majestic forest country. Tumbledown barns and farmhouses still stand sentinel in the clearings and plains, adding to the hauntingly beautiful experience of this drive. Serious hikers can enjoy this drive en route to the Grafton Loop Trail and the designated parking for the iconic Appalachian Trail.