“Wake me up when September ends.” Did anyone else hear those Green Day lyrics on September 1st & kinda sorta agree? I have to admit that at first, the idea of summer ending makes me so sad, but once I begin to think of how wonderful the next few months are in Maine during fall/autumn, I smile.
There is so much to do & just like summer, only so many weekends to do it! [until the leaves leave & the snow starts screwing everything up!] The days may be getting shorter, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still a TON of things you can do with your loved one, a group of friends and/or your family!
Here are some of my favorite things to do to get the most out of fall in Maine:
- Hiking – A cool, crisp but sunny day is the perfect weather to head out on a hike. Whether you choose to go for a walk on a trail in the woods or if you decide to venture on out to climb your favorite mountain, the sky is the limit. There are so many hiking options in Maine & there isn’t a better season to enjoy it all. Some of my favorite local places to Portland to go for a hike include;
1. Bradbury Mountain State Park – With over 800 acres to enjoy this is the perfect spot to spend a Saturday. I’d even recommend packing a picnic in your backpack & enjoy it on the rocky summit! Dogs are welcome as well.
2. Pleasant Mountain Preserve – Located in Bridgton/Denmark… or Shawnee Peak as most of you are familiar with is the highest mountain in southern Maine. The mountain is a destination for hikers, birdwatchers, snowmobilers, hunters, & skiers. There are a bunch of different trails to explore:
- Bald Peak Trail — 2.2 miles; 1,900 foot elevation gain. Blue trail blazing. Park along Mountain Rd., 1 mile from Rte. 302.
- Sue’s Way — 0.5 miles; 500 foot elevation gain. Orange blazing. Access via Bald Peak Trail or North Ridge Trail.
- North Ridge Trail — 0.8 miles; 200 footelevation gain. White blazing. Access via Bald Peak Trail or Sue’s Way.
- Ledges Trail — 1.8 miles; 1,600 foot elevation gain. Blue trail blazing. Parking area adjacent tofire lane 54, 3 miles from Rte. 302.
- Fire Warden’s Trail — 2.3 miles; 1,500 foot elevation gain. Red trail blazing. Parking area on Wilton Warren Rd. This trail is used by snowmobiles in the winter.
- Southwest Ridge Trail — 2.7 miles; 1,800 foot elevation gain. Yellow trail blazing, with rock cairns. Accessible from Denmark Rd.
3. I also love to take advantage of the Portland Trails of the Greater Portland area. There are so many options & they are all so great to explore! Dogs are welcome on many of the trails, but make sure you double check before heading out. These trails are especially great for those that live in Portland & don’t necessarily have a backyard full of woods.
- Apple Picking - This is by far one of my most favorite things to do in the fall! Some really great orchards to visit in Maine include;
1. Brackett Orchards [Limington]- Brackett’s Orchards, is thought to be the oldest family owned and operated apple orchard in Maine. All common apple varieties are available including Honeycrisp and peaches. Pick your own apples and hayrides are available most weekends from our most scenic hilltop orchard Mid-September through October.
2. Dole Orchards [Limington]- A real Maine farm, beautiful hilltop setting. Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cherries, apples and pumpkins. An assortment of fresh veggies, jam, flowers and fun for kids. Open for apple picking Labor Day weekend to mid October.
3. Orchard Hill Farm [Cumberland]- Pick your own apples! Free antique tractor hay rides. Farm stand complete with bakery. You can also watch them make fresh apple cider donuts. There are Maine crafts, maple syrup, jelly jams, fresh cider, squash, pumpkins and raspberries! [while in season]. Open early August thru mid March. Fall hours Monday-Sunday, 6:00am-6:00pm. Winter hours Tuesday-Saturday.
4. Thompson’s Orchard [New Gloucester]- Pick your own apples or buy some that have been freshly picked for you. Tractor rides on weekends, Maine-made maple syrup, local honey, pies, jams, and jellies. Fresh, sweet cider from mid-September, warm donuts & apple dumplings. There are also many varieties of pumpkins & squash, cornstalks, mums, Maine-made crafts. Enjoy your goodies on the picnic tables. After Thanksgiving, Christmas trees & wreaths are available. Open Labor Day Weekend through Christmas Eve; 9am-6pm 7 days a week.
5. Elm Crest Farms [Monmouth]- Pick your own McIntosh, Cortland and Red Delicious apples, or pre-picked available in the apple shed. There is Cider, home-cooked pastries, preserves, pumpkins, squash, naturally grown potatoes, and other fall produce. Hayrides and “Old MacDonald’s Farm” are on-going & fun for the whole family! They are open mid-September through late October; Friday noon to Sunday PM.
6. MacDougal Orchards [Springvale]- McDougal Orchards is located on a portion of a 450 –acre tract purchased at tax auction for “fifty-two pounds ten shillings” by Joshua Hanson in 1779. The land has been farmed in various ways by the same family ever since, and is protected farmland. Apples pay the bills and they have 20+ varieties! They pick or you pick. They also have plums, pears, peaches, nectarines and fall-bearing raspberries, as well as free hayrides on weekends, a fairy village, and a corn maze!
- Fairs – Fall is fair season in Maine! There are 2 main events that draw thousands of people each & every year;
1. Cumberland Fair – This year is the 140th Cumberland Fair! Holy smokes that’s an old fair! September 25th thru October 1st people will come from all over to enjoy the fair traditions. New this year will be lawnmower racing! agricultural exhibits, daily Exhibition Hall, Sugar House and museum demonstrations, Cumberland Fair Pumpkin contest, horse and Ox Pulling, 4H Exhibits, truck pulls, Maine Agricultural Day and so much more! My favorite is all of the yummy [bad for you] fair food!
2. Fryeburg Fair – It was a chilly day in March of 1851 when a few local farmers & merchants got together & decided to show off their produce & cattle to the community. Since then, the Fryeburg Fair has grown to become Maine’s largest agricultural fair complete with 6 days of harness racing, a farm museum, the world’s largest steer & oxen show, as well as a reputation for a kick ass fair throughout North America.
- Wicked Walking Tour [Portland's Old Port]- One of my favorite things about fall is Halloween! It’s the only holiday when you can pretend you are something you aren’t! It’s fun, at least I think so… & I right into it! Last year, we went on the Wicked Walking Tours throughout Portland’s Old Port. It was a blast! It was so much fun hearing about the haunted history of my favorite Maine city. You won’t think about the Old Port the same… Ever again, after going on that walk! Also, if you go to the link above & print out the home page you will get $3.00 parties of 4 or more! [I always love saving money wherever I can ]
- High School Football – When was the last time you went to a high school football game? I remember that was one of my most favorite things to do back in the day, but what about now? Why not, right? There are so many great teams all around the state & even if it costs you a few bucks to catch a game, it’s all about the experience… Plus, you’ll be supporting the football boosters club. Find your favorite high school football or soccer team, [most likely it will be your Alma mater if you're from Maine, but if not, it doesn't matter!], grab a group of friends & head to a game on a Friday night. Fall & football go hand in hand… & those hands are even happier when they have some hot chocolate in them. [GO BONNY EAGLE SCOTS!]
- Fall Foliage Drive – There are so many great routes for an amazing fall foliage drive in Maine. One mid October hits, the leaves are on fire no matter where you drive! However, it is fun to take a day to just drive & drive & enjoy the scenery. We drive everyday, but we are always in a rush to get here, get there, drop the kids off, pick the kids up, grab dinner & rush home… Does that sound familiar? Every year, Nate & I go on a fall foliage drive! We pick a different route each year. It’s become on of our fall traditions. We often find a farm stand along the way and grab some pumpkins!
- Beach- Don’t forget about the beach! You can forget your bikini, but there is still so much fun to be had in the sand! Most of the beaches in Maine allow dogs after Labor Day… Or September 15th… That makes it the perfect place to go on a sunny Saturday or Sunday.
So what are you waiting for? I just gave you enough things to stay busy for at least a few weekends, right? What is your most favorite fall activity or place to visit?