8 Maine State Parks You Won’t Want to Miss

From the mountains to the sea, you’ll find the landscape you’ve been longing for at these top Maine state parks.

By Jenn Johnson

May 31 2019


Baxter State Park | Favorite Maine State Parks

Photo Credit : Jack Heddon via Flickr

On the day that campground reservations open for the year at the biggest and best-known of the Maine state parks, Baxter State Park, there’s already a line at the park’s Millinocket headquarters in the wee hours of the morning. Some folks make a ritual, in fact, of camping out in line more than 24 hours in advance so they can snag their perfect camping spot at Baxter, home to Mount Katahdin, the state’s highest peak.

With all due respect to the Baxter die-hards, though, it’s easy to have an unforgettable back-to-nature experience in Maine. The state park system includes nearly 50 state parks and historical sites, which are scattered from the coast to the mountains to the lakes region — in fact, every county in Maine has at least one state park. And both residents and tourists seek them out in droves: Maine state parks drew a record 2.9 million visitors in 2016, about 10 percent more than the previous year.

Chalk up that popularity to Maine state parks’ diversity: You can go beachcombing at Popham Beach, surfing at Reid, fishing at Rangeley, and hiking just about everywhere — there’s even geocaching action at Wolfe’s Neck and Aroostook, among other spots. Plus, there’s the lure of four-season access, with prime skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing terrain on offer in many Maine state parks (to better cater to winter recreationists, the state has launched a roaming rental shop stocked with cross-country skis and snowshoes for park visitors).

So no matter the time or year or your particular outdoor interests, there’s a Maine state park for you. To get you started, here are some of our favorites.


Baxter State Park | Favorite Maine State Parks
Baxter State Park | Favorite Maine State Parks
Photo Credit : Jack Heddon via Flickr

BAXTER STATE PARK | Piscataquis County

Although the lands east of Baxter State Park recently became a U.S. national monument, most Mainers will say that if you want to experience northern Maine’s most spectacular chunk of wilderness — and maybe spy a moose in the bargain — this is the place. Crowned by Katahdin, Maine’s highest peak (5,268 feet) and the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, and edged by the Penobscot River, the 200,000-acre-plus expanse of “forever wild” Baxter welcomes hikers, wildlife-watchers, paddlers, and outdoors lovers with over 200 miles of trails and endless vistas (but leave the motorcycles, RVs, and ATVs behind).

Camden Hills State Park | Favorite Maine State Parks
The view from the tower at Camden Hills State Park | Favorite Maine State Parks
Photo Credit : David Casteel via Flickr


One of the most iconic photographs any visitor can bring home from Maine is the view of Camden Harbor from Mount Battie, which rises 800 feet above sea level at 5,650-acre Camden Hills State Park. An hourlong hike or a five-minute drive brings you to the summit, where you can climb a picturesque 26-foot stone tower built in 1921. For a more challenging summit, try Mount Megunticook, the highest of the Camden Hills, at 1,385 feet. Bird-watchers will also find lots to love here, with hawks, blue herons, ospreys, and even bald eagles making an appearance. Afterward, the seaside town of Camden, just a few minutes’ drive south, offers shops and dining to round out your visit.


Popham Beach State Park | Favorite Maine State Parks
Popham Beach State Park | Favorite Maine State Parks
Photo Credit : Maine Office of Tourism


For a dose of the classic Maine coast, Popham Beach State Park is hard to beat. Located just 15 minutes from downtown Bath, it provides access to one of Maine’s longest sandy beaches (three miles) — prime territory for swimming, body-boarding, sunbathing, and beachcombing. The ocean vista includes Wood Island; Fox Island, which can be reached by foot during low tide; and Seguin Island, whose lighthouse is Maine’s highest and second oldest (first commissioned by George Washington in 1795).

Quoddy Head State Park | Favorite Maine State Parks
Quoddy Head State Park | Favorite Maine State Parks
Photo Credit : Maine Office of Tourism


There’s no mistaking the peppermint-striped exterior of West Quoddy Head, the easternmost lighthouse in the U.S., which welcomes visitors to this rugged 541-acre coastal park. There are five miles of scenic trails that wind through forest and wetlands and past cliffs and bluffs, and open out onto some terrific coastal views. Wildlife-watching is a favorite pastime here, ranging from humpback, minke, and finback whales to throngs of seabirds and shorebirds. And geology buffs won’t want to miss the rare coastal raised-plateau bog known as Carrying Cove Place Bog: A National Natural Landmark, it’s one of just six peatlands of its kind in the country.

Rangeley Lake State Park | Favorite Maine State Parks
Rangeley Lake | Favorite Maine State Parks
Photo Credit : Paul Schultz via Flickr


Famous for its landlocked salmon and trout fishing, this western Maine getaway offers 869 acres of unspoiled lakes-and-mountains scenery. The action revolves around 10-square-mile Rangeley Lake, with its view of Saddleback Mountain and its 50 campsites nestled among fir and spruce. There are two easy trails for exploring: the.7-mile Moose Country Corridor Trail, which traverses the forest surrounding the lake, and the .9-mile Shoreline Trail, which passes by the park’s lovely swimming-area lawn and ends at the boat launch.

Two Lights State Park | Favorite Maine State Parks
Two Lights State Park | Favorite Maine State Parks
Photo Credit : Littlelionkat via Flickr


Just a stone’s throw from the bustling city of Portland, Two Lights State Park is named for the c. 1828 twin lighthouses — the first twin lighthouses on the coast of Maine — one of which is still in operation. Though the lighthouses are located outside the park boundaries, there’s still lots to see here. The 41-acre park has a network of intersecting footpaths that traverse a landscape encompassing a rocky shoreline and grassy hills; you can also explore the remnants of a World War II gun battery, bunker, and observation tower and soak up expansive views of Casco Bay. Lobster fans will delight in refueling at the nearby Lobster Shack at Two Lights.

Reid State Park | Favorite Maine State Parks
Reid State Park | Favorite Maine State Parks
Photo Credit : Fyn Kynd via Flickr

REID STATE PARK | Georgetown, ME

Crashing surf, two beautiful sand beaches, a lagoon (10 to 15 degrees warmer than the open ocean), tidepools, hiking trails, sand dunes, and marshlands — Midcoast’s 610-acre Reid State Park, on Georgetown Island, has it all, along with shower rooms and picnic tables. Don’t miss Griffith Head, a rocky outcrop overlooking the park, and a great vantage point for viewing lighthouses, islands, and sweeping sea vistas. Birdwatchers will note that portions of Reid’s beaches are also nesting areas for least terns and piping plovers, as well as stopover spots and feeding areas for other shorebird species as well.

Mount Blue State Park | Favorite Maine State Parks
Mount Blue State Park | Favorite Maine State Parks
Photo Credit : Maine Office of Tourism


A hidden gem in prime hiking country, the 8,000-acre Mount Blue State Park in Maine’s Lakes and Mountains Region is second in size only to Baxter. Climbing the park’s namesake 3,187-foot summit is a popular day hike, plus there abundant trails for all abilities right outside the park, including Tumbledown Mountain, Bald Mountain, and Blueberry Mountains. Those who prefer watery fun can rent a boat or canoe and cruise or paddle around Webb Lake, where anglers trawl for trout, pickerel, bass, and salmon; in winter, the action shifts to the park’s extensive trail system, which is ideal for snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.

What are your favorite Maine state parks? Let us know!

This post was first published in 2018 and has been updated. 

Most Beautiful Places in Maine
10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in Maine
10 Best Lobster Rolls in Maine