Goddard Mansion, Cape Elizabeth, Maine Hidden Gem
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11 Hidden Gems in Maine to Visit This Year

Maine’s hidden gems go beyond lighthouse tours, jagged coastline views, and lobster boat rides. A well-worn path leads to all of those. Finding the secret spots of Maine is like finding a needle in a stack of needles since the state is unabashedly authentic.

Wind your way down dusty byways and past blueberry fields bathed in twilight, and you’ll discover secret places among salty breezes or secluded spots where moose love to mingle.

This is a guide to the untamed soul of Maine — hidden treasures hiding in plain sight or deep in the woods where few daytrippers dare to go. Once you get off Route 1, you’ll find the real heartbeat of Maine and understand why everyone tries to keep these places secret.

Debsconeag Lakes Wilderness
Debsconeag Lakes Wilderness Area | photo via jeremy.avery

Debsconeag Ice Caves

45.791635144633744, -68.97817200181224 parking lot in Millinocket

Deep in the Maine Highlands, wilderness reigns. What sets Debsconeag Lakes Wilderness Area apart is the untouched land — never logged or developed. Trees up to 300 years old stand proudly. Also, this trail is home to ice caves that stay frosty through August in an average year.

A 2-mile trail takes you to the ice caves, and this adventure is best experienced in summer since late fall through winter and into spring can mean slippery spots with steep falls.

This entire landscape was carved by glaciers, which explains the massive boulders along the way. Even the space is a “cave” only for familiarity — it’s really a series of stacked boulders where openings exist.

Rungs and a rope can help you descend, but this journey into the cave isn’t for the everyday traveler. It’s dangerous, remote, and intimidating.

Giant's Stairs-Bailey Island
Giant’s Stairs | photo via danielle.coro

Giant’s Stairs

19 Ocean St, Bailey Island, ME 04003

Just when you think you’ve seen the best coastal views in Maine, Harpswell says, “Hold my lobster roll.”

The Giant’s Stairs took 500 million years of environmental forces to create, and now the quarter-mile stretch of coastline offers stepping stones to guide a massive foot up the coastline. Visitors even get a solo showcase of the Thunder Hole at the Giant’s Stairs with no crowds, unlike the Thunder Hole in Acadia.

From there, you can head south to Bailey Island Beach, see the Fisherman’s Memorial, and enjoy 180-degree views of the ocean. Another option is to walk Devil’s Back Trail, another hidden gem of Maine.

Easternmost Markers

1 Admiral Hamlet Pl, Eastport, ME 04631
973 S Lubec Rd, Lubec, ME 04652

Are you tired of seeing the same old photos of the southernmost point buoy in Key West? How about starting the newest trend in Eastport at the Easternmost City Buoy?

This community pride project is as new as it is hidden from most tourism guides. Start the trend, and get your photo taken. After all, Alaska doesn’t have buoys for the westernmost or northernmost spots. It’s only one of two photo ops in the country!

In case you’re scratching your head while looking at a map, we know. Eastport is the easternmost city. Lubec, just east of here, is a town.

The fun part of this Maine hidden gem is that you can drive less than an hour to Quoddy Head State Park to take your photo with the easternmost point in the contiguous U.S., the easternmost lighthouse, and the easternmost gift shop.

Kenneth E. Stoddard Shell Museum-Boothbay
Kenneth E. Stoddard Shell Museum | photo via catkellycat

Kenneth E. Stoddard Shell Museum

510 Wiscasset Rd, Boothbay, ME 04537

This Maine hidden treasure is perfect for every beachcomber — and people who love their dads a lot.

Kenneth E. Stoddard served in the Navy during World War II. He collected seashells any chance he could get. Some he mailed home, while some traveled with him. To fulfill his dad’s dying wish, Stoddard’s son vowed to display the sea treasures so that everyone could enjoy them.

Now located in Boothbay near a miniature golf course, you can see one of the largest collections of privately owned seashells in the world.

RELATED: The amazing Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens is just a short 10-minute drive away too.

Mackworth Island Fairy Houses-Falmouth
Mackworth Island Fairy Houses | photo via in.her.heart.were.mangroves

Mackworth Island Fairy Houses

Andrews Avenue off, US-1, Falmouth, ME 04105

Mackworth Island State Park in Falmouth was once the vacation home for Governor Percival Baxter, the same one who created Baxter State Park.

This park offers a wonderful trail to circle the island, complete with a pet cemetery where Baxter’s dogs and a horse were laid to rest. (No connection to Stephen King’s “Pet Sematary,” just FYI.) When you walk through the woods, though, you’ll see fairy houses.

The rules are simple — build your own fairy house using nothing but natural products from the landscape. You can’t add fabric, glitter, glue, or any other outside influences. Enjoy the creative displays throughout the woods here.

Ladies Delight Lighthouse-Cobbosseecontee Lake
Ladies Delight Lighthouse | photo via mollylovesnature

Ladies Delight Lighthouse

44.30452155438787, -69.89602708115873 in Winthrop

Just west of August in Winthrop, what is believed to be the only freshwater lighthouse in Maine sits in the center of Cobbosseecontee Lake (but you can call it Cobbossee Lake).

At the turn of the last century, the cottages and hotels around the lake required a boat to cart passengers back and forth. However, that took about five hours. Boats in the early 1900s didn’t have restrooms.

One particular island was a quick stop for women to relieve themselves. Also, that island posed risks with a shallow reef. A lighthouse was built and named Ladies Delight because of how much the women enjoyed the pitstop. Today, the lighthouse is solar-powered and accessible by kayak or boat.

Vaughan Woods-Hallowell
Vaughan Woods | photo via gr8fulgu3rt

Hobbitland in Vaughan Woods

2 Litchfield Rd, Hallowell, ME 04347

This isn’t an amusement park, and — spoiler alert — there are no hobbits. But, the ethereal landscape of trails, waterfalls, and stone bridges feels like it is right out of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit.”

Vaughan Woods & Historic Homestead is in Hallowell, just south of Augusta. The Vaughan family worked tirelessly to restore the industrial land to an idyllic space with carriage roads, stone arch bridges, and trails. You get the Acadia National Park carriage road vibes without driving all the way to Mount Desert Island.

Locals refer to it as Hobbitville sometimes, but don’t build hobbit homes or stick figures while you’re here. Just enjoy the view.

Gulf Hagas-Forks
Gulf Hagas | photo via the_life_of_jon

Gulf Hagas

45.47773383098132, -69.28534609400204 parking area in Northeast Piscataquis

Gulf Hagas isn’t just a tough hiking trail; it’s a geological marvel. Ancient volcanic activity and glacial sculpting shaped its towering cliffs, 200-foot chasm, and countless hidden grottoes. It has earned the nickname the Grand Canyon of the East, and you’ll walk on the final stretch of the Appalachian Trail as you go.

Reaching this hidden gem demands some grit. Be prepared for a river ford, scrambles over boulders, and a steady climb of 1,200 feet with steep drop-offs camouflaged by lush forests. Even the road to Gulf Hagas requires a tough vehicle and some creative driving.

The reward is stunning Maine waterfalls, rock formations like The Jaws, and swimming holes along the way. Round-trip, this hike is about 9 (tough) miles in Maine’s Hundred-Mile Wilderness.

Timber Point Trail-Biddeford
Timber Point Trail | photo via emmaartandphoto

Timber Point Trail

140 Granite Point Rd, Biddeford, ME 04005

One of the best coastal trails in Maine is tucked within Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in Biddeford. Timber Point Trail is an easy 1.1-mile walk through a wetland and salt marsh with river and ocean scenery at every step.

WARNING: If you arrive at the end of this trail just before low tide, you can walk over to Timber Island. A GIANT sign will remind you of the next tide. Don’t get stuck on Timber Island at high tide, or else you’ll be stuck.

Additionally, you can get to Timber Point and then Timber Island from Goose Rocks Beach in Biddeford.

Goddard Mansion-Cape Elizabeth
Goddard Mansion | photo via massachusetsman

Goddard Mansion

43.626453140594926, -70.2135626307264 in Cape Elizabeth

Portland Head Light gets most of the attention at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth, and for good reason. You just need to go beyond that scenic view to see some treasures within the woods.

The Goddard Mansion gives off Saltburn vibes. It was built in the 1850s and later became the property of the Army. By 1962, the building was in shambles and set ablaze to reduce future fire risk. The stone skeleton remains, and you are welcome to walk around the property. You just can’t go inside.

NOTE: Goddard Mansion is located in Ship Cove with several other notable historic markers and a beach.

Amemone Sea Cave-Acadia National Park
Amemone Sea Cave | photo via mountainmamahiking

Acadia’s Anemone Sea Cave

Schooner Head Overlook parking lot in Bar Harbor

Sometimes, the hidden hot spot is right under your feet, as is the case for anyone who has stood at Schooner Head Overlook at Acadia National Park. The Schooner Head viewpoint offers a wonderful kiosk about… birds.

That wasn’t always the case. The rather forgotten trail to the right bears no markings but leads to what was once a postcard-worthy part of the park. The Anemone Sea Cave awaits just five minutes of walking time down a twisty hill.

The risks of high-tide dangers, slip-and-fall accidents, and ecosystem damage inside the sea cave led to the park taking the sea cave off the brochure but not off the table for curious explorers.

WARNING: Only explore at low tide. No access and life-threatening conditions exist at high tide.

More Hidden Gems in Maine Are Waiting to Be Discovered

Many more secret spots are spread across the Pine Tree State and its 2,000+ islands offshore, which account for 10% of Maine’s landmass. Most are managed by either local towns or land trusts.

You can explore the hidden gems that await out in the water if you like boating. For example, Matinicus Island is the most remote island in the state, and there’s a ferry back and forth from Rockland.

Maine is filled with locals who have lived here for generations, and you can talk with them to get inside tips. If they say, “You can’t get there from here,” you won’t be getting any information out of them. It’s a Maine thing.

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