The biggest state in New England also offers some of the best — and most challenging — hiking in the region.
Maine, with its 35,385 square miles, is home to trails that will make beginners and veteran hikers happy.
So we’ve offered five trails that should satisfy hikers of all skill levels
From Pleasant Mountain close to the New Hampshire border, east to Arcadia National Park and north to the far reaches of the state, Maine has hiking trails to keep you moving.
1. Mount Katahdin, Baxter State Park
Difficulty: 5/5 | Trail info
Mount Katahdin stands at 5,269 feet elevation, and this trail will haul you up 4,475 of it. You can opt for the Mount Katahdin trail alone (5.2 miles) or add on the Hamlin Peak Loop for a total of 10.9 miles. This trail is strenuous and can take as many as 12 hours to complete, so come fully prepared.
Though difficult, this is one of Maine’s most popular trails, with breathtaking views at the top. Of particular note is the 1.1-mile Knife Edge section, featuring narrow ledges with 2,000-foot drops on both sides. If you dare to venture on this path, it will undoubtedly give you significant exposure and some well-earned street cred among Maine hikers.
Start early in the day (5-6 a.m. recommended) and bring plenty of water and food. No dogs are allowed on this one.
2. Beehive, Acadia National Park
Difficulty: 4/5 | Trail info
How difficult can a 1.5-mile loop trail be? Acadia answers with a resounding “pretty difficult, but well worth it.” The Beehive Loop Trail includes rocky ascensions and climbing up an iron rung ladder bolted to the bedrock. However, the first part of the trail is gentle, rising uphill to a trail marker that heralds the start of iron bridges, granite stairs, and those aforementioned rungs.
The summit is 520 feet up and offers views of Sand Beach below. Your descent starts on the Bowl Trail, which rewards you with a cool-down dip in the Bowl. This alpine pond lies between Beehive and Gorham Mountains and is a refreshing temperature even in the summer.
No dogs on Beehive, and dress appropriately so you’re agile enough to climb the ladder rungs.
3. Gulf Hagas Trail, Brownville
Difficulty: 3/5 | Trail info
Gulf Hagas is often referred to as the Grand Canyon of the East, as the rim of the canyon sits a staggering 500 feet above the Pleasant River below. This 8.2-mile loop trail starts with a bang, making you cross a river just after the parking lot. Water levels vary with the season but tend to be passable in the summer.
You’ll walk the Appalachian Trail through an old pine forest and then hop on the Gulf Hagas loop, which you’ll recognize with blue blazes. Take the Rim Trail to hike past gorgeous waterfalls at the next trail split. Don’t be afraid to jump in the ice-cold water on a hot summer day, either — there are plenty of opportunities to do so.
Your dogs are welcome, provided they’re on a leash.
4. 100-Mile Wilderness, central Maine
Difficulty: 6/5 | Trail info
You’ll note the hyperbolic difficulty rating here, and that’s because the 100-mile wilderness is no joke. This is true untouched wilderness: 100 square miles of nothing but rugged landscape. Hiking this trail will take between 5-10 days and is strenuous. You’ll need to be on the move between 8 and 12 hours a day to keep pace with the full 100 miles.
With 15,000 feet of total elevation gain throughout the trip, you’ll also gain the closest possible connection with Maine’s wildlife and wilderness. You’ll see it all: moose, deer, bears, and who knows what else. It’s genuinely the hike of a lifetime and a bucket list item for many, but technical skills are required.
You’ll need to be well prepared: clothing, food, water, and a firm understanding of the trail system. No dogs allowed.
5. Pleasant Mountain, Denmark
Difficulty: 2/5 | Trail info
This list has contained some real whoppers, so let’s end with a more moderate hike: Pleasant Mountain. True to its name, this hike is an enjoyable 5.8 miles and can be done in 3-4 hours. The mountain itself is 2,006 feet in elevation and houses six trails.
With an open summit and scenic views, you may be able to see all the way to Mount Washington in New Hampshire on a clear day. Expect crowds — this is one of the most popular hikes in the state. If you want solitude, opt for the Southwest Ridge Trail, which tends to be less packed.
Bring your dog, but make sure it’s leashed.