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Nick Cote

Hiking in Wolfe's Neck State Park

Hiking in Wolfe's Neck State Park

Nick Cote

Looking at Acadia National Partk from the Beehive.

Looking at Acadia National Partk from the Beehive.

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Family-Friendly Hikes with Kids

If you have a car full of restless kids, take our advice. Get ‘em outside. Then take ‘em hiking. The best kind of family hike is one that doesn’t end up with mountaintop meltdowns or threats to never hike again from you or your clan. Maine has hundreds of hiking trails across the state, but finding the right one that meets your family’s needs can be tricky. We’ve chosen great family-friendly hikes, in each region of the state. They are easy to moderate in difficulty, and we’ve included suggestions for other nearby activities. Grab your water bottles and treats for bribes (but here’s hoping you won’t need to bribe anyone).

Aroostook County

The Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge in Aroostook County's Caribou has 7,750 acres on part of the former Loring Air Force Base. Look out for waterfowl, ruffed grouses, American woodcocks, northern goshawks and bald eagles. Other residents include white-tailed deer, snowshoe hares, lynx, river otters, minks, ermines and coyotes. The Beaver Pond Trail is only 1.75 miles round-trip, and this easy hike goes past a lake, where you can spot moose and beavers. Keep your pets leashed on the trails.

Olof Nylander was a Swedish-born self-taught naturalist. The Nylander Museum of Natural History in Caribou is dedicated to his work. Geology, archaeology, paleontology, taxidermy, shells and butterflies form the major categories of the museum’s displays. Goughan’s Berry Farm has fun activities throughout the year, including mini golf, a corn maze and a petting zoo.

Acadia National Park

Maine’s only national park is small compared to its western siblings, but it’s a huge favorite for hikers. Here’s two family-friendly walks:

The Wonderland Trail is 1.4-mile round trip near the village of Bass Harbor. It meanders through forest to the ocean.

The Ship Harbor Trail wanders through the forest on a 1.2 mile loop before coming to a granite shore.

The Maine Beaches

Waterboro Barrens Preserve is in York County, inland from Maine’s sandy beaches. The 4.4 miles of trails throughout the 2,475-acre preserve range from easy to moderate, but you can easily shorten your hike to suit your family’s needs. For a 2-mile hike along repurposed fire roads, consider the Sand Pool Hike, which leads you to a unique sandy pool in Buff Brook. Find the remains of an old stone dam, too. Here you will discover the state’s best example of boreal pine barrens. The uniquely beautiful forests of this preserve are primarily pitch pine and scrub oak with lowbush blueberries dotting the landscape. See if your family can spot the 11 species of rare butterflies and moths and the numerous rare plants that call the barrens home. Keep an eye out for whip-poor-wills and common nighthawks that nest on the ground in the open areas, but keep your pets at home to protect the numerous uncommon species found here.

Old Orchard Beach, in the Maine Beaches region, is extremely popular, and with good reason. There are miles of sand for kids to stroll upon. Tempt them to continue by scheduling a visit to Palace Playland, New England’s only beachfront amusement park.

Greater Portland and Casco Bay

Bradbury Mountain State Park has miles of kid-friendly trails. Although Bradbury tops out at less than 500 feet, it’ll still make a young mountaineer proud to have climbed it. Portland is home to the Portland Trails network. Check out the quiet Stroudwater Trail. Portland Freedom Trail runs through downtown Portland and tells about Maine’s African-American history.

Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park is just a short drive from  Portland. The  Casco Bay Trail in Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park is an easy half-mile hike with great rewards. You’ll enjoy wending through the coastal woods before coming to Casco Bay, where numerous ospreys fly overhead, islands dot the horizon and interpretive panels educate the curious. Bring your leashed pup along, too. Stop for lunch at one of the picnic spots, or head into Freeport for dining options and shopping galore. Freeport’s famous outlets and the L.L.Bean flagship store are always enjoyable. Kids love L.L.Bean’s trout pond and they can watch fish swim in the aquarium from a glass bubble. For a small, quiet beach, visit Winslow Memorial Park in Freeport. Make sure the tide is high for the best swimming. There’s also a playground.

Maine’s MidCoast & Islands

Popham Beach State Park is another oceanfront location with long stretches of sand. An added incentive is nearby Fort Popham, an imposing granite fort started during the Civil War but never completed. Also consider the Devil’s Back Trail Area. For an easy, 2.5-mile loop, the Devil’s Back Trail on Orr’s Island descends to Long Cove and then to the rocky shore, where you can watch as ospreys soar overhead. You will cross rustic wooden bridges (look for trolls!) and can admire the seals on the east coast and the oyster farms on the west. Bring your leashed pets!

For a tasty meal, head over to Bailey Island, crossing the unique Cribstone Bridge, and dine at Dolphin Marina or Cook’s Lobster & Ale House for all things seafood — from fried clams and fresh oysters to lobster mac and cheese or whole steamed lobsters — or grab a fresh-picked lobster roll or sandwich from the Bailey Island General Store. Camden Hills State Park offers wonderful ocean views and trails ranging from easy walk-ups to tough hikes. Favorite routes include those to Maiden’s Cliff and Mt. Megunticook.

Maine’s Lakes and Mountains

For a short but moderately challenging hike with panoramic views, Jockey Cap in Fryeburg is a great option. The Maine Lakes & Mountains is a region full of fantastic hikes, and this 0.8-mile trail brings you from deep woods to a boulder field. At the base of Jockey Cap are small caves and some excellent bouldering opportunities! At the top of the granite outcrop, the woods give way to views of the Saco River Valley, high peaks of the White Mountains and the town of Fryeburg below. A monument features a panoramic landscape compass, with every visible summit depicted to scale and aligned for ease of identification. Pets are permitted on this hike.

Fryeburg is a great town for dining and activities. Each October, the Fryeburg Fair draws crowds for a week of fun. Visit the Hemlock Covered Bridge — the state’s oldest remaining covered bridge — built in 1857. For some peaceful river swimming or kayaking, stop by Weston’s Beach along the Saco River. There is a large sand beach and a rope swing downstream on other side of the bridge.

The Kennebec Valley

Moxie Falls is a 2-mile round-trip hike that is rated intermediate, although it starts off nice and flat. Before long, you’re making your way toward one of Maine’s highest waterfalls. Plunging 90 feet, the falls are spectacular. If you’re willing to brave the chilly water (and what kid isn’t?), the swimming hole is ideal for cooling off or catching a fish. Your dog can enjoy the stream as well. The Kennebec Valley has numerous outdoor recreation possibilities. Northern Outdoors in The Forks is the oldest and most experienced whitewater rafting company in Maine. They also offer lodging, and their restaurant serves up tasty food as well as fresh Maine craft beer.

The Maine Highlands

Enjoy foraging for berries Blueberry Ledges Trail. Beginning on the Appalachian Trail, the trail to Blueberry Ledges veers off shortly after entering Baxter State Park. The 4-mile, well-marked, out-and-back trail goes through a beautiful birch forest to reach the waterfalls, open ledges and many wild blueberries, which are ripe in July or August. Keep an eye out for deer or moose, too! This intermediate hike is the perfect way to get away from it all. In the town of Millinocket, you can also book another adventure with the New England Outdoor Center. They offer moose safari trips, whitewater rafting for older kids and more. You can also stay at their lakeside cabins. River Drivers Restaurant at the center serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Check the schedule, as some days they are closed.

Bangor offers a number of city-owned trails. A favorite spot is Bangor City Forest, which includes the popular Orono Bog boardwalk.

As your family heads out and enjoys Maine’s many hiking trails, remember to leave no trace and respect the lands and waters so that they can be appreciated today and in the future.

For more information, check out Maine Trailfinder.

For more info on how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly, visit our Look Out for ME  page.

Businesses & Organizations

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  • Welcome to the Mountain Guide Service of western Maine! As the area's premier guide service, we plan...

    Phone: (207) 319-9583


    Address: 99 Parlin Hill Rd , New Vineyard

    Backpacking Guided Hikes and Walks Day Hiking
  • Maine Wilderness Adventures offers women, youth groups and families the opportunity to experience a...

    Phone: (207) 568-3450

    Address: 35 Fowler Rd , Thorndike

    Guided Hikes and Walks Hiking with Kids Day Hiking
  • Open every day and easy to access, it's a place to discover.

    Phone: (207) 646-1555


    Address: 342 Laudholm Farm Rd , Wells

    Guided Hikes and Walks Hiking with Kids Kayaking and Canoeing
  • Loon Echo Land Trust protects land in the northern Sebago Lake region to conserve its natural resources and character for future generations.

    Phone: (207) 647-4352


    Address: 8 Depot St, Suite 4 , Bridgton

    Guided Hikes and Walks Sanctuaries, Land Trusts and Refuges Day Hiking
  • Swan Island welcomes hikers, campers, birders, anglers, wildlife watchers and explorers.

    Phone: (207) 547-5322


    Address: Intersection of Routes 197 and 24 , Richmond

    Day Hiking State Parks Sanctuaries, Land Trusts and Refuges
  • Overlooking Linekin Bay The Inn is known for its warmth and comfort.

    Phone: 207-633-4551


    Address: 107 Murray Hill Road P.O. Box 335 , East Boothbay

    Breakfast Included Boat Cruises Private Bathrooms

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