Are you searching for the most beautiful fall foliage in Maine? Our guide includes peak color predictions, top places to visit for colorful views, and a 2023 Maine fall foliage map.
One of the most popular activities in Maine during fall is leaf peeping. With such a vast amount of wilderness, there are countless spots where you can observe and photograph the vibrant golds, oranges, and reds that emerge during the foliage season.
In 2023, the majority of The Pine Tree State will see the colors emerge and peak around the same time, according to the fall foliage prediction map. However, a few spots here and there will get colorful canopies either a week sooner or a week later.
So that you don’t miss the colors, we’ve put together this guide to give you a better idea of what to expect in each region of Maine. You’ll also find some recommendations for where to see the best peak fall foliage Maine has.
Understanding the Changing Leaves in Maine
Predicting when fall leaves grace us with their presence isn’t easy because the primary factor that affects the timing is the weather. Ideally, the leaves need a wet summer followed by dry, sunny days and cool nights. If it’s too dry, though, the leaves will fall before they get to show their true colors.
Maine Fall Weather Prediction
Typically, Maine begins to see leaf changes around the end of September and into early October in the north. Then, the rest of the state can watch the colors emerge through mid to late October.
Since Maine had a cool and wet summer in 2023, the fall foliage is emerging earlier and spottier than in years past. The coastal areas are expected to be affected the most by the weather, so keep that in mind when you’re planning your fall color tour.
Weather and forest experts expect the season to be colorful and develop normally from north to south, with some areas of transition lasting longer than normal. And, there will be plenty of places across Maine that are perfect for leaf peeping.
Why & How Leaves Change Color
Understanding why and how fall foliage comes about can be helpful in understanding fall color predictions and the colors that you can expect to see.
In preparation for winter hibernation, trees stop making food — known as chlorophyll — for their leaves when the temperature starts dropping and the number of daylight hours shortens. Since chlorophyll is what gives leaves their green color, the lack of chlorophyll means that their true colors get a chance to stand out.
As a result, you see various hues of gold and yellow. But, that’s not only the chemical process that occurs. Some leaves turn red and purplish because they contain anthocyanin pigments. Dogwood and sumac trees are the most commonly associated with these colors.
Leaf Peeping in Aroostook County
The northernmost region of Maine — Aroostook County — is typically the first to get fall colors. For 2023, the colors are emerging in mid-September with partial color by the last full week of the month. But, the colors won’t be at their peak until the second week of October.
If you decide to explore Aroostook County, you’ll find a lot of wilderness with changing leaves. However, here are a couple of places that we recommend you visit.
Aroostook State Park
Located in Presque Isle Maine, Aroostook State Park is an ideal spot to start discovering everything that the region has to offer. The park has 3 miles of trails through the fall colors. Or, you can enjoy the foliage from a canoe, kayak, or motorized boat.
Allagash Wilderness Waterway
Extending 92.5 miles through Aroostook County and into part of Piscataquis County, the Allagash Wilderness Waterway is a spectacular ribbon of streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes through the heart of Northern Maine. Boasted as a sportsman’s paradise, it’s also a fall foliage paradise of refuge and solace from everyday life.
Kennebec & Moose River Valley Fall Colors
According to the Maine fall foliage map, the leaves start changing in Kennebec and Moose River Valley region during mid-September, and partial color coverage is expected during the fourth week of the month. Then, the colors will peak during the second week of October.
There are tons of places to explore in the Kennebec and Moose River Valley region for fall fun. However, here are a couple of foliage routes that we recommend for leaf peeping.
Old Canada Road National Scenic Byway
Known as one of the best scenic drives in Maine, the Old Canada Road National Scenic Byway follows Route 201 between Solon and the Canada border. There are only a few small towns on this route, which is perfect for seeing the fall foliage.
In fact, the road is known for having some of the region’s most beautiful and unique scenery. We recommend stopping in Forks, at Lake Parlin, and at the Attean Overlook for panoramic views of the Attean Pond and Moose River.
Kennebec River Rail Trail
For 6.5 miles between Augusta and Gardiner Maine, the Kennebec River Rail Trail is a fantastic path for cycling, running, walking, and more with views of fall colors, the river, and wildlife. You’ll find the beginning of the trail underneath Memorial Bridge in Augusta.
Fall Foliage in The Maine Highlands
With differences in weather and altitude throughout The Maine Highlands — home to Mt. Katahdin — it’s a little harder to predict the fall colors. The Maine fall foliage map, though, shows that the leaves start changing in the east side of the region a week earlier than in the rest of the state.
Because of that, you can see partial canopy coverage the third week of September and peak color the first full week of October. On the other side of the region, you can see partial cover the last week of September and peak color the second week of October.
If you plan to explore The Maine Highlands and Mt. Katahdin, you might have trouble choosing a spot to observe the fall foliage. We have a couple of recommendations below.
Baxter State Park
Encompassing 209,644 acres of wilderness in Millinocket, Baxter State Park is one of the best places to see fall colors in the United States. The park is most famously home to Mt. Katahdin, the tallest mountain in the state. However, there are more than 40 other mountain peaks in the park.
Leading throughout Baxter State Park are more than 220 miles of hiking and biking trails. Some of the trails are easier than others, allowing you to choose how you want to go leaf peeping. The park offers opportunities for picnics, technical rock climbing, paddle boating, fishing, and wildlife viewing too.
Peaks-Kenny State Park
A little farther south and closer to Bangor, Peaks-Kenny State Park in Dover-Foxcroft Maine lies along Sebec Lake. This 839-acre park is a great place for camping, fishing, boating, and picnicking amid the fall leaves. And, there are 10 miles of hiking trails, some of which connect to each other.
From the park, you get a lovely view of Borestone Mountain across the lake. If you want more to explore, you could head to the mountain and hike the summit trail in the 1,600-acre nature sanctuary.
Downeast & Acadia Leaf Peeping
While the fall colors start to develop a week earlier in part of The Maine Highlands than in the rest of the state, the coastal Downeast and Acadia region is the opposite. Some of the fall leaves don’t show their true colors until after the rest of the region.
On the southwest side of Downeast and Acadia, the leaves display partial color the last week of October and peak color the second week of October. Then, you can see partial full colors in the northeast side of the region during the first week of October and peak colors during the third week of October.
The northeast end of the region doesn’t have as many towns, so there’s more open wilderness and fall colors. But, no matter which part you decide to explore, you’re sure to have a magnificent show. Here are two of our favorite places to visit during the peak season — one for each side of the region.
Acadia National Park
The fall foliage will emerge in the southwest end of the Downeast and Acadia region first, which is where you’ll find Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor Maine. With 4 million visitors every year, it’s one of the country’s 10 most popular national parks.
There are over 150 miles of hiking trails, 45 miles of historic carriage roads for bicycling, and 33 miles of motor roads throughout the park. Boating is permitted on the ponds and lakes on Mount Desert Island, and there are several other islands within the park that are worth visiting as well.
Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge
In Baring Maine, the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge is located in the northeast end of the region right next to the Canadian border. This nearly 30,000 acres of protected land features a hardwood forest of birch, aspen, fir, maple, and spruce trees. The more than 50 miles of roads and trails are excellent for leaf peeping, wildlife viewing, and taking photos.
Colorful Canopies of the Maine Lakes & Mountains
For 2023, the Maine fall foliage map predicts that the west side of the Maine Lakes and Mountains region will have stunning fall leaves sooner than the rest of the region.
Partial colors will emerge in the west during the third week of September and will peak the first full week of October. Then, in the east part of the region, you can see partial colors in the fourth week of September and peak colors in the second week of October.
As the name suggests, there are many lakes and mountains throughout the region, making it a picturesque destination during the fall. While the Rangeley Maine area is popular, we’ve chosen a couple of different spots for viewing the changing leaves — one on each side of the region.
Grafton Notch State Park
On the west side of the Maine Lakes and Mountains region, Grafton Notch State Park in Newry is a top-notch destination for recreational activities among the Mahoosuc Range of mountains. Here you can see impressive gorges and waterfalls, and the fall colors make the scenes even more breathtaking.
If you’re adventurous, the park is home to one of the most challenging sections of the Appalachian Trail. Hiking the steep summit trails rewards you with amazing views. On top of that, the Grafton Notch Scenic Byway runs through the park and mountain valley.
Mt. Blue State Park
In Weld Maine, on the east side of the region, Mt. Blue State Park is separated into two sections by Webb Lake. On the east side of the lake, Mt. Blue stands at 3,187 feet and is an ideal day hike for enjoying the fall foliage. You could go biking and horseback riding — among other activities — in the park too.
MidCoast Maine’s Fall Foliage
Featuring hundreds of miles of coastline and islands, MidCoast Maine is expected to have partial autumn colors the last full week of September. Then, the colors will peak during the second week of October. Combined with the harbors, the view is spectacularly charming.
Just driving through the region along Route 1 is a wonderful way to see the colors. While many places are worth visiting, a couple in Camden Maine really stand out to us.
Camden Hills State Park
A signature location in the MidCoast region, Camden Hills State Park offers sweeping views of the harbor and Penobscot Bay from atop Mt. Battie. Additionally, you get a fantastic view of Megunticook Lake and the surrounding fall leaves from Mt. Megunticook, the area’s tallest peak.
You can reach the Camden Hills summits via well-marked trails. Actually, this Maine state park has 20 paths for hiking and horseback riding. And, some of the trails are Natural Heritage Hikes with guided narratives about the area.
Camden Snow Bowl
While the Camden Snow Bowl sounds like it only offers winter activities, it’s actually an all-season recreational park with access to the Ragged Mountain Recreation Area. During the month of October, it offers chairlift rides up Ragged Mountain so that you get a one-of-a-kind view of the foliage.
Changing Leaves in Greater Portland & Casco Bay
According to the 2023 Maine fall foliage map, The Greater Portland and Casco Bay area will be partially covered in a colorful canopy the fourth week of September. Then, the canopy will reach peak color during the second week of October.
While the Greater Portland and Casco Bay region is the smallest in Maine, there are still tons of things to do and explore during the fall. Here are a couple of our top choices.
Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park
Located on a small peninsula in Freeport Maine, Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park has a tranquil setting of varied ecosystems that feature hemlock and white pine forests. The park has 3.5 miles of trails, a picnic area, and watchable wildlife.
Bradbury Mountain State Park
A little farther inland, Bradbury Mountain State Park is an awesome place to have a picnic under a colorful canopy of fall trees. It’s a great park for watching birds and other wildlife too.
Since Route 9 passes between the 800-acre park, there are nine trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding on each side. The Bradbury Mountain summit is on the west side, while the east side trails are popular among mountain bikers.
The Southern Maine Coast’s Fall Leaves
If you want to go leaf peeping on the Southern Maine Coast, you can enjoy a partial canopy of color during the last week of September. To see the colors at their peak, head to the region during the second week of October.
You can explore many things to do on the Southern Maine Coast. But, we have a couple of places where you don’t want to miss the glorious fall foliage.
Ferry Beach State Park
Encompassing 100 acres in Saco Maine, Ferry Beach State Park has a nearly 2-mile network of trails through varied ecosystems that feature vivid colors during the fall. One of the trails leads to the beach, giving you views of miles of sandy beach — all less than a 10-minute drive from downtown Saco.
Mount Agamenticus Conservation Region
Consisting of more than 10,000 acres, the Mount Agamenticus Conservation Region in York Maine consists of a unique, rich coastal forest with a diverse range of plant species.
It’s an excellent destination for leaf peeping, sightseeing, hiking and biking, and wildlife viewing. Some trails are open for ATV and horseback riding as well.
FAQs About Fall Foliage in Maine
When can you expect fall colors in Maine?
The 2023 peak fall foliage Maine period lasts from the first week of October to the third week of October depending on where you go. Generally, the colors begin to change in the north during late September and spread south.
How long do fall colors last in Maine?
Usually, the peak fall colors in Maine last through October. Depending on the weather, though, the duration could be shorter or longer, even extending into November.
What is the best time to see fall colors in Maine?
Since the weather has such a major impact on the changing leaves, pinpointing the exact location of the best fall colors in Maine isn’t always easy. However, you can use the interactive map below to find optimal fall foliage for your travel dates.
Interactive 2023 Maine Fall Foliage Map
This fall foliage prediction map lets you see where and when the colors will peak in Maine this year.
You can move the slider at the bottom of the map [provided by SmokyMountains.com] to the right and left to adjust the time for when you plan to take your fall color journey. Then, you’ll see that most of Maine will have peak fall colors in mid-October.