One of the best ways to get an eyeful of fall foliage is to trek up to Maine, the northeastern-most state in the United States. There are any number of routes you can choose from, all of which will give you spectacular vistas of pines intermixed with the deciduous trees that are ablaze with color. My favorite, though, it to drive straight up through the middle of the state to Fort Kent.
You’ll start on I-95. It’s really up to you where; I always was driving from home, which is Lewiston-Auburn (exit 83). As you head north, you start on fairly flat ground and head through Augusta, then it gets a little more hilly as you get up to Waterville. Once you’re past Waterville, though, that’s when it starts getting really pretty. Towns are fewer and farther between, and The views are nice as your approach Bangor, which starts at exit 183. (You’ve already driven 100 miles!)
Bangor is a great place to take a lunch break on your fall foliage route up to Fort Kent. For great sushi stop by Ichiban on Union St., or try Texas Roadhouse by the mall if you’re in the mood for some good down-home cooking. Once you’re fed and ready to go, make sure you have gas – you’re going to be going into a less populated area.
The hills get much larger once you get out of Bangor. As you reach Medway, you’ll cross the Penobscot River and you’ll have great views of rolling hills. You’ll see a scenic overlook sign soon – make sure you stop!
At the scenic overlook, you’ll be blessed with a beautiful foliage view of Mt. Katahdin. It is the highest peak in Maine, and the overlook gives you a view over the lake that it towers over. Bring a camera – the rustic wooden fence will make a great backdrop of the foliage photographer.
Now here’s where your foray up I-95 gets a little weird. Get off on exit 294 for Sherman and Patton in Sherman, ME. You’ll be in a tiny town in sparsely populated northern Maine. Take a left and head north on Route 158 – get gas! When you get to the intersection of Route 11, then head north on 11. This will bring you up through the heart of the Maine woods, so don’t expect to see much except the fall foliage – but there will be some big trucks coming through. You’ll go up and down some huge hills and that’s where the real treat of seeing fall foliage in Maine is. You will be going through the small towns of Ashland and Eagle lake – if you feel that you’ve driven too far already then head for Presque Isle when you get to Ashland, that’s the biggest town you’ll find in Aroostook County and there are several places to stay there. If you’re ready for more foliage and to reach what people call the “Crown of Maine,” then keep heading north on Route 11. You’ll go by lakes, small towns, and rivers, and eventually end up in the tiny college town of Fort Kent. There are several small motels and a few quaint restaurants that you can eat at while you’re there. Enjoy your time!
This trip will bring you 600 miles round trip, and one way will take roughly 6 hours of driving, but northern Maine foliage is worth it!