One of the best times to be in the northern East Coast is during peak conditions to see the leaves change color. In fact, October is a great month to be in MidCoast Maine. Farmer’s markets have fresh produce weekly, and the weather isn’t too cold yet for outdoor activities. To make the most of your time in the region, you should visit the best places to observe the coastal Maine fall foliage.
Best Places in Rockland to See Fall Colors
In the 1850s, Rockland quickly grew into a bustling city because of its lime production and shipbuilding businesses. However, fishing was and continues to be very important for the city’s economy. Rockland has become the lobster capital of Maine. Because of that, the city hosts some of the best events and festivals. In addition, it boasts a couple of the state’s best places to see fall foliage.
Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse and Parks
Sitting in the northern section of Rockland Harbor, Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse is an active aid to the U.S. Coast Guard. With a keeper’s house attached, it’s open for tours. The view from the tower is spectacular. On one side is Penobscot Bay, and on the other is the city harbor with a backdrop of stunning autumn leaves.
To get to the lighthouse, you walk a nearly 1-mile granite breakwater. Rockland Harbor Trail offers a great access point to the structures. This 5-mile trail runs south from Marie H. Reed Park at the breakwater, passes through Rockland Harbor Park and ends at Snow Marine Park. These parks are great spots for enjoying the fall leaves too.
Owls Head State Park and Lighthouse
On the outskirts of Rockland, Owls Head State Park is a great place to enjoy a picnic and walk along a small rocky beach while you absorb the peak fall colors. The short trail gives you access to the beach in one direction and Owls Head Light in the other direction. The tower, which is still active, sits on a bluff above Penobscot Bay.
Best Rockport Destinations for Maine Foliage
With a long-standing reputation as an artistic community, Rockport is rich in history like many other towns and cities in MidCoast Maine. It was even part of the lime industry. However, it might be more well-known as the home of Andre the Seal, a famous marine animal after which a book and movie were made. Another great reason to visit Rockport, though, is to see the fall colors.
Rockport Marine Park
As a beautiful spot for leaf-peeping, Rockport Marine Park has a lot of features. There are picnic tables and benches, a dock for fishing, and a launch ramp for boats. It’s also the location of the memorial statue of Andre the Seal. The town actively maintains the statue. In addition, you can see old lime kilns on the water’s edge of the park and a replica of a lime transport vehicle.
Beech Hill Preserve
As one of the most scenic conservation properties along Penobscot Bay, Beech Hill Preserve offers panoramic views of the water, the St. George peninsula, and Camden. When you walk the 2-mile network of trails in the fall, the colorful view is truly breathtaking. The nearly 300 acres of land is managed for organic blueberries and as a grassland bird habitat. With more than 125 bird species, it’s an official stop on the Maine Birding Trail.
Best Places for Autumn Leaves in Camden
Just north of Rockport is Camden, a town renowned for its picturesque view of Camden Harbor and Penobscot Bay. This view is part of the reason why the town is known for its summer community. From boat tours to exploring historic sites, there are plenty of things to do in Camden. Seeing the coastal Maine fall foliage is just one.
Camden Hills State Park
By itself, Camden Hills State Park offers a few days’ worth of activities during the fall leaves season. There are areas for picnicking, and you can enjoy horseback riding, biking, and hiking. There are about 20 trails within the park, and they range from 0.3 miles to 5 miles in length. Whether you decide to stop at the top of Mount Battie or hike up Mount Megunticook, you’ll have an amazing view of Camden and the harbor, bay and scattered islands.
The trails that lead up Ragged Mountain are more challenging than those in Camden Hills State Park. In fact, they’re some of the most strenuous and steepest in the MidCoast. Making it to the top is more than rewarding, though. From the ridgeline, you can see vistas across the entire horizon. There’s no better place to see the autumn leaves.
Best Nearby Destinations for Leaf Peeping
There are many other places to see the coastal fall foliage outside of Rockland, Rockport, and Camden. These places give you a unique way to enjoy the leaves changing.
Fort Knox and the Penobscot Narrows Observatory
Located in Prospect, Maine, the Fort Knox Historic Site and Penobscot Narrows Observatory is a great place to learn some history while taking in the fall colors. The fort is one of the best-preserved representations of coastal defenses from the mid-1800s. It’s open until the end of October for guided tours and special events, but the grounds are always open until sunset.
At 420 feet, the observatory is the tallest bridge observatory in the world that’s open to the public. It also has the fastest elevator in Maine and offers a 360-degree view of Penobscot Bay.
Whaleback Shell Midden State Historic Site
On 11 acres in Damariscotta, Whaleback Shell Midden is the site of a once massive heap of oyster shells. The Native Americans created the midden for more than 1,000 years. However, only a fraction of the original heap remains. The area has a small loop trail that goes through a historic orchard, which is beautiful during the fall.
If you’re in Damariscotta Oct. 12-14, 2019, consider joining the festivities of the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest & Regatta. It features a giant pumpkin parade on Oct. 12, pumpkin derby on Oct. 13 and pumpkin regatta on Oct. 14. These events are a wonderful way to enjoy everything about the season.
Tips for Planning to Observe the Coastal Maine Fall Foliage
To make the most of your time in MidCoast Maine, you can use some tips for planning to see the peak fall colors. Firstly, make sure that you come during peak conditions. The best time is Oct. 21-27.
However, the leaves can start changing sooner and stay colorful for longer depending on the weather. You can keep track of the best time to visit with the Maine foliage map and other information that the government updates on its website.
It’s also important to dress comfortably. Temperatures average 40-60 degrees Fahrenheit during this time of year. Historically, it has dropped to 30 F and risen to above 70 F. There’s a possibility of rain too. Check the forecast before you pack so that you’re prepared for what the weather brings.
Where to Stay While Viewing the Fall Leaves
To see the Maine foliage at all of these places, you need a central location to stay. Glen Cove Inn & Suites has all of your must-have amenities, including a walking trail with a view of the water and fall colors. We make sure that our guest rooms are comfortable, clean, and affordable too. If you need help getting around the MidCoast area, our vacation guide can assist you.
And if you’re visiting in later fall after we close for the season, our sister hotel in Camden is the perfect place to rest while enjoying all the fall colors in midcoast Maine!