If you’re hoping to leave behind motorized living for an afternoon, a week or more, Maine offers a wonderful variety of recreational trails that you can paddle, pedal or hike.
Maine Island Trail Association provides recreational access and promotes voluntary stewardship of more than 150 properties from southern Maine east to Machias Bay (in Washington County). The 325-mile waterway includes a mix of public and private islands and shorefront properties, offering a mix of day and overnight use. Annual membership in MITA ($45 for individuals and $65 for families) entitles one to receive MITA’s Stewardship Handbook and Guidebook listing the trail site locations.
Northern Forest Canoe Trail is creating a 740-mile water trail through the Northern Forest of Maine, New Hampshire, Quebec, Vermont and New York. The trail is outlined on 13 waterproof canoe maps (available at their website) that include camping and lodging information. The NFCT’s Maine portion represents almost half the total trail length and includes such gems as Flagstaff Lake, Moosehead Lake and the Allagash Wilderness Waterway.
Hiking and Biking Trails
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy seeks to conserve the 2,175-mile Appalachian National Scenic Trail, a 250,000-acre greenway that stretches from Mount Katahdin in Maine to Georgia. The ATC’s online store has a detailed guidebook and map for the Maine portion of the AT (which costs $25).
Aroostook Valley Rail Trail offers 93 miles of multi-use recreation along a former rail bed that runs through rural fields and woods from Washburn to Stockholm in northernmost Maine.
The Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance and the Maine Department of Conservation maintain trails in the Kennebec Highlands region near Belgrade/Rome.
Bike Tours within Maine offers maps and printable PDFs with details on 25 bike tours around Maine. East Coast Greenway in Maine has PDFs for five segments of the 618 miles of the Greenway that lie in Maine. The entire Greenway, running from Key West, Florida to Calais, Maine stretches 2,600 miles.
The Downeast Sunrise Trail, slated to open in September 2009, is a multi-use trail that will run 127 miles east from Ellsworth through coastal Washington County to Calais.
The Eastern Trail Alliance is working on creating a walking and biking trail between Portsmouth, New Hampshire and South Portland, Maine – mostly on off-road, woodland trails. See ETA’s site for trail maps and updates.
Healthy Maine Walks provides listing for easily accessible walks in many of Maine’s local communities. For the latest updates on regional rail-trail projects, visit the web site of the Rails to Trails Conservancy or the site of their Northeast Field Office. The Conservancy has an online PDF of the Maine Community Trails Fact Sheet.
The International Appalachian Trail seeks to extend the Appalachian Trail from Baxter State Park north and east through the Northern Forest of Maine, New Brunswick and Quebec – ending at the tip of the Gaspe peninsula. The IAT web site offers a downloadable “Maine Guide” word document and a jpeg map depicting the route within Maine.
The Jay-to-Farmington Rail Trail is a 15-mile multi-use corridor along a former rail line in Western Maine
Kennebec Messalonskee Trails seeks to promote, build and maintain scenic, recreational trails along the waterways of Waterville, Winslow, Benton, Fairfield, and Oakland. Trail descriptions and a map are available on the KM Trails website.
The Kennebec River Rail Trail is a 6.5-mile riverfront trail linking Augusta, Farmingdale, Hallowell and Gardiner.
Newport/Dover-Foxcroft Trail offers 27 miles of multiuse trail skirting three lakes in central Maine.
Portland Trails, Maine’s first urban land trust, offers an on-line map and detailed trail descriptions for many of the parks and pathways that make up its 40-mile network of trails and green space in Maine's largest urban area. Thanks in large part to the work of Portland Trails, the City of Portland, and other community greening initiatives, Portland has earned numerous accolades for its natural assets--becoming the nation's first city in Bicycling magazine's BIKE TOWN program (in 2003), being named one of Outside magazine's Best Towns of 2007 and one of America's greenest cities by Organic Gardening magazine in 2008.
Saco Bay Trails is an all-volunteer group committed to creating and maintaining public hiking trails in the Saco Bay area.
For ideas about where to trail riding with your equine friends, see the Maine Trail Riders website.