A 9 Day Itinerary for an Outdoor Adventure in Maine

A 9 Day Itinerary for an Outdoor Adventure in Maine

The rugged coasts of Maine are something we’ve been wanting to see for awhile now. Beautiful hikes, small coastal towns, huge cliffs, and expansive ocean views are exactly the kind of place we dream about visiting. When we moved from the Midwest to New York, we were so excited that Maine was suddenly just a short car ride away. We promptly put in for a week of vacation and started planning.

We had a few goals we wanted to keep in mind as we figured out the logistics of the trip. One, the trip needed to be budget friendly as we’re traveling to Norway in July — and if you know Norway, it’s not exactly the cheapest country around. Two, we wanted the trip to be mostly focused on outdoor activities and sights. City vacations are fun, but our hearts are truly smitten with beautiful landscapes and rugged terrain that is off the beaten path. Three, we wanted to camp the entire trip. We were anxious to break out our tent for the season and enjoy nightly campfires, and camping also helped the trip be mega-cheap.

Now that we’ve returned from our trip, I can confidently say we achieved the first and third goals (be cheap and camp). As for the second goal of being off the beaten path, there are definitely some tweaks I’d make to our itinerary if we could do it all again. There were a few places I thought were going to be remote towns with easy access to nature that turned out to instead be jam packed with tourists and overly built-up.

Don’t get me wrong–we had a great time everywhere we went! We were always able to find sweeping views and undisturbed nature — some places just took a bit more effort to find it. After giving an overview of our trip, I’ll give some details about the itinerary I’d follow if I could plan the trip again. But first, here’s how we spent our time in lovely Maine.

Ogunquit, Maine  (2 Days)

Our first stop was along the coast in southern Maine. We explored the towns of Ogunquit and York  (way too touristy!), the beach, rugged coastline, and a picturesque lighthouse. This is a stop we’d pretty much delete from the trip entirely next time around. Ogunquit does have a gorgeous sandy beach (though the Atlantic Ocean is freezing pretty much year round) and could be a nice weekend beach trip if you’re within driving distance. Just be prepared to deal with backed up traffic on the rural roads and hoards of tourists.

I suppose it all comes down to what you’re looking for in a trip. It was definitely a pretty area, it just doesn’t fit with our preferred style of travel.

Ogunquit Highlight:  The Cape Neddick Nubble Lighthouse (technically just south of Ogunquit in the town of York). It had great ocean views and big rocky shorelines to explore.

Cape Neddick Nubble Lighthouse in Maine

Portland, Maine (2 Days)

From Ogunquit, we traveled an hour or two up the coast to the town of Portland. Portland is a much bigger city than the town of Ogunquit, with many unique shops and restaurants (the best of which is the Holy Donut which makes amazing potato donuts. I’m still drooling.).  To get away from the city, you can take a short ferry ride to several islands just off the coast that can be explored via foot, bike, or golf cart (can you guess which option we chose?!). The Portland Observatory gives great views if it’s open (we were too early in the season, after hiking our butts across the city we were faced with locked doors and broken hearts). Just south of town is the Portland Head Lighthouse which is situated on large park with a good bit of hiking trails.

Portland Highlight: Exploring the trails around the Portland Head Lighthouse. We spent hours exploring the trails, most of which give you access to the rocky beaches and cliffs.

Exploring Maine's rocky cliffs at the Portland Head Light in Fort Williams Part

Acadia National Park (3 Days)

So many hikes, views, trails, carriage roads, and lakes to see! Acadia is stunning! The 27 mile Park Loop Road passes by the most stunning views and trail heads, and it also takes you to the highest point in the park, the peak of Cadillac Mountain. Besides miles and miles of hiking trails, the park is laced with 57 miles of carriage trails, which are wide gravel roads only accessible by bike/horse/foot. There are also numerous lakes perfect for kayaking, canoeing, and swimming (if it’s warm enough!). You could spend weeks here exploring the nooks and crannies of this park.

Acadia National Park Highlight: Kayaking Long Pond. It was a particularly warm, sunny day, but there was literally no one else on the lake. We felt like we were the only people in the world as we explored the corners of this gorgeous lake. I might be developing a slight obsession with kayaking now.

Kayaking at Long Pond in Acadia National Park

Lubec, Maine (2 Days)

As you head north along the coast from Acadia, you quickly leave the tourists behind and discover exactly what we had been hoping for — small town charm with stunning (and accessible) nature. Acadia was gorgeous, but this was the part of the trip that we both loved the most. Trails are everywhere, and we rarely saw another person while out on a hike. West Quoddy Head Lighthouse is the easternmost point in the US (and also on a state park with some great hiking), so be sure to stop by. Campobello Island is accessible via a bridge, just make sure you have your passport as it’s a Canadian island. There’s a large international park with great hiking trails and carriage roads, a lighthouse you can hike to when the tide is low (during high tide, the path is covered with several feet of water), and FDR’s summering house still furnished as it was when he lived there.

Lubec Highlight: Hiking the trails in Quoddy Head State Park.

The rocky cliffs of Quoddy Head State Park in Maine


Preferred 9 Day Maine Itinerary

After this trip, we both adamantly agreed that we would make a few changes to the itinerary if we were to do it again. The further north into Maine we went, the more we loved what we were seeing. If you’re looking for an outdoor trip to Maine, this is how I’d recommend you schedule your trip:

Portland, Maine (1 Day): Spend the morning exploring the Portland Head Lighthouse and trails, explore an island for the afternoon, and walk around Portland for the evening.

Acadia National Park (3 Days): Hike, bike, kayak, and explore to your heart’s content.

Lubec, Maine (3 Days): Enjoy feeling like you’re in the middle of nowhere while you explore Maine’s gorgeous scenery.

Baxter State Park (2 Days): Get some hikes in, including Mount Katahdin if you’re up to it. Keep your eyes out for a moose spotting, and send us a pic if you’re successful. Kyle’s been looking for a moose on every trip we’ve taken, and so far he’s been left heartbroken.

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