Cadillac Mountain Cropped

16 Magnificient Mountains in Maine

The mountains of Maine offer a unique blend of wild beauty and accessibility. The remoteness is a natural feature carved by glaciers, yet intentional, with the state protecting up to 20% of the land to keep it wild.

Maine’s mountains aren’t as steep as the Rocky Mountains or Sierra Nevadas, but the summits don’t come easy. In fact, many hikers along the Appalachian Trail say that Maine holds the toughest part.

Mainers aren’t afraid of a little brutal winter, firmly believing there is no bad weather, just bad clothing choices. That opens the door to four seasons of robust mountain activities from the crown of the state to the peaks of Mount Desert Island. It also comes with a much more laid-back yet gritty experience than the prestigious peaks you might find out West.

Whether you’re peak bagging and want to climb all the 4,000 footers or just want an easy hike to amazing views, we’ve collected the most memorable mountain hikes Maine provides.

Mount Katahdin-Milinocket
Mount Katahdin | photo via arlette_laan

Mount Katahdin

Elevation: 5,270’
Status: Tallest Mountain in Maine

Mount Katahdin (“kuh-TAH-din”) means “Greatest Mountain,” and that’s just what it is in Maine – the greatest and tallest in the state. It stands among the most wild and untouched land in Maine at the heart of Baxter State Park.

“Katahdin, in all its glory, forever shall remain the mountain of the people of Maine.”

Gov. Percival C. Baxter, founder of Baxter State Park

To bag this peak, you’ll need a parking reservation and 8-12 hours of grueling effort with a 4,000-foot elevation gain. Nine trails lead to the summit, and the dare-devilish Knife’s Edge is among the most nailbiting – up there with Angel’s Landing at Zion National Park. You’ll scramble and boulder as much as you hike.

Once at Baxter Peak, the highest point of Mount Katahdin, you’ll also be at the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. The park also has Pamola Peak, North & South Brother Peaks, Hamlin Peak, Chimney Peak, and The Owl.

Please read our in-depth article about the eccentricities of visiting Baxter State Park. It’s one place where they make no apologies for putting wilderness sanctity over guest enjoyment.

White Cap Mountain
White Cap Mountain | photo via rogue_hikes

White Cap

Elevation: 3,654′
Status: Tallest peak in 100 Mile Wilderness

Those who dare delve deep into Maine’s 100 Mile Wilderness and head to the top of White Cap Mountain get rewarded with the best views of the highlands. The land’s name should tip you off that there are no amenities in this region – even the road to get here is an adventure that should only be attempted with a high-clearance vehicle.

The nearly seven-mile strenuous trek is buggy in the summer. Summit on a clear day to see Mount Katahdin and 360° views. You’ll get the bonus of waterfalls along the way.

Borestone Mountain falls below 2,000 feet but is easily the most popular summit of the 100 Mile Wilderness.

Cadillac Mountain-Acadia National Park-fall
Cadillac Mountain | photo via gusdoyon

Cadillac Mountain

Elevation: 1,530’
Status: Tallest Mountain on Eastern Seaboard

The jewel of Mount Desert Island causes such demand that timed entry is required to drive this summit in Acadia National Park through much of the tourist season. Special sunrise reservations are required as well. During part of the year, Cadillac Mountain is the first place the sun touches in America.

Winter access is by hiking only, which includes about half a dozen trail options to get there. Hikes range from two miles to seven miles to get there. Those who drive to the top can still explore the half-mile Cadillac Summit Loop Trail.

It was named after Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, who went on to establish what would become Detroit, Michigan.

Tumbledown Mountain
Tumbledown Mountain | photo via staceymitchell66

Tumbledown Mountain

Elevation: 3,054′
Status: Maine Favorite

Tumbledown steals the show from some higher peaks due to its technical spots and “the juice is worth the squeeze” philosophy at the summit. Almost every review states, “The view is worth it.” Tumbledown and nearby Mount Blue State Park offer the largest alpine ecosystem in the state.

You can choose the gentle slopes or the intense climb that includes a narrow cave crawl called “Fat Man’s Misery” before you ascend iron rungs and scramble over boulders. Along the way, you’ll find a tarn (alpine lake) and views across the Lakes and Mountains region. Tumbledown Pond is arguably the best swimming hole in the state – at minimum, it’s the most unique.

Falling into the category of “this is why we can’t have nice things,” camping is no longer allowed at Tumbledown Mountain due to excessive trash and damage to natural resources.

B-52 Maine wreck on Elephant Moutain
B-52 Crash Site Memorial | photo via Visions of Maine / New England

Elephant Mountain

Elevation: 2,650’
Status: B-52 Crash Site Brings People to the Mountain

Most people visit Elephant Peak on a trip to Moosehead Lake but don’t actually bag the peak. The most intriguing aspect is that this is where a B-52 crashed in 1963 during a Cold War training exercise. Nine people were on the plane, and only two survived.

The wreckage sits where it fell that ill-fated night, with a few memorial markers along the way. Visitors are welcome to wander the wreckage site and pay tribute, but please don’t take any of the plane parts scattered in the woods.

You can summit Elephant Peak, but you’ll bushwhack your way there only to find absolutely no scenic views at the top.

Old Speck Mountain
Old Speck | photo via seth.rollins93

Old Speck

Elevation: 4,170’
Status: Highest point of Maine’s White Mountains

While New Hampshire gets so much credit for the White Mountains, the speck that stretches into Maine is part of Grafton Notch State Park and definitely the path less traveled comparatively.

Once again, you’ll get to experience the A.T. in a section known as one of the most challenging. The Old Speck Trail takes you almost eight miles roundtrip through streams, waterfalls, and woods to the summit with an observation tower. The Eyebrow Loop Trail is shorter at 2.2 miles but includes cliffs and more climbing steel rungs.

From the top, you’ll see the nook of Grafton Notch carved into the landscape. Keep an eye out for the hallmark speckled rock that lends its name to Old Speck. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Mount Washington and 50 miles in all directions.

NOTE: Old Speck and Grafton Notch are only accessible from May 15 to October 15 annually. Winters are just too dangerous, which is saying a lot for Maine.

Sugarloaf Ski Area - Carrabassett Valley, Maine
Sugarloaf Ski Area | photo via @katie_hearts_me

Sugarloaf Mountain

Elevation: 4,249’
Status: Part of the largest ski area east of the Rockies

Depending on if you consider Hamlin Peak on Mount Katahdin a peak or sub-peak, Sugarloaf is either the third or second tallest mountain in Maine. Its famed ski resort is known for making “Sugarloafers” out of its guests.

Several trails weave their way to Sugarloaf, including a side trail from the A.T. The Carrabassett Valley hike also provides great views of Mount Bigelow’s peaks.

Other peaks to be tacked here include:

  • Burnt Mountain: 3,600’
  • North Crocker Mountain: 4,228’
  • South Crocker Mountain: 4,052′

The Crocker Cirque 16-mile trail is known for being two of the easiest 4,000-footers to bag.

No matter what season, Sugarloaf is worth seeking out in Carrabassett Valley.

Bigelow Mountain
Bigelow Mountain | photo via cronima

Bigelow Mountain

Elevation: 4,144’
Status: Six Major Peaks on Appalachian Trail

Just across Highway 27 from Sugarloaf, Bigelow Mountain boasts a stunning alpine landscape with two 4,000-footers to knock off the list: West Peak (4,150) and Avery Peak (4,090). Consider North and South Horn if for nothing else than the Horn Lake between them. Those are each in the 3,800’ range.

As part of the Bigelow Preserve, it offers diverse hiking experiences with challenging trails and breathtaking views of Flagstaff Lake and the surrounding wilderness. Plus, you can camp here.

For first-timers, expect rugged terrain, steep ascents, and exposed ridges, especially on the Appalachian Trail section. However, the rewarding panoramic vistas and sense of accomplishment make Bigelow Mountain an unforgettable destination.

Saddleback Mountain
Saddleback Mountain | photo via folkstar

Saddleback Mountain

Elevation: 4,121’
Status: “Maine’s Favorite Mountain”

Saddleback is both a ski resort and a mountain near Rangeley in the Lakes & Mountains region. Peak baggers can take several trails to the summit and the Horn, which are both just over 4,000 feet.

All trails will take you above the treeline with leg-burning climbs, but how bad can a “Berry Picker” trail be anyway? Plus, if you time it right, you’ll get wild blueberries and cranberries to snack on. Along the way, you’ll find Ethel and Eddy Ponds.

This mountain also meets up with what will be a 45-mile heritage route called the Fly Rod Crosby Trail. Any trail in Rangeley is brilliant with wildflowers in the spring and jaw-dropped with fall foliage that usually peaks mid-October.

Mount Battie - Camden, Maine
Mount Battie | photo via @elizabethandmarin

Mount Battie/Mount Megunticook

Elevation: 780’/1,385’
Status: Excellent midcoast views above Camden

Both scenic viewpoints at Camden Hills State Park offer accessible trails and proximity to downtown Camden. You get the picturesque vistas without the rigorous ascent of taller peaks. A stone tower is a World War I memorial at the top of Mount Battie.

Mount Battie offers stunning panoramic views of Penobscot Bay that you can drive to if you’re not up for the hike. Another option is an 8.6-mile trail that takes you to both scenic vistas and Maiden Cliff, overlooking Megunticook Lake.

Either way, you’ll feel on top of the world.

Champlain Mountain
Champlain Mountain | photo via lindsayinmaine

Champlain Mountain

Elevation: 1,058’
Status: Precipice Trail to the top is one of the hardest hikes in America

One of the main reasons to summit Champlain Mountain is the nail-biting ascent on the Precipice Trail. It’s intimidating enough that the Precipice Trail rises 1,000 feet in one mile, but it’s how the ascent happens that really tests your fear of heights.

Much of the trail is climbing iron rungs and walking on ledges hardly wide enough for your two feet. What’s more? After “The Eliminator” challenge in the first 2/10th of a mile, there’s no going back. The Beehive is a slightly less aggressive but still challenging way to get to Champlain Mountain.

Two much easier North Ridge and South Ridge Trails also provide access. Much like Cadillac Mountain, you get epic views of the coastline, Frenchman Bay, and Bar Harbor.

Pleasant Mountain - Bridgton, Maine - Maine Ski Resorts
Pleasant Mountain | photo via @jackcluesto

Pleasant Mountain

Elevation: 2,006’
Status: Tallest Mountains in Southern Maine

Just an hour from Portland, Pleasant Mountain is part of the Loon Echo Land Trust, and a separate Pleasant Mountain Ski Area is nearby.

The Ledges Trail offers the most challenging and most popular trail, but more than 10 miles of trails cover the landscape with no less than four ways to summit. In addition, you get two peaks (east and west) with a full layout of the Presidential Range in the White Mountain of New Hampshire on the horizon.

Even at its most challenging, Pleasant Mountain is a kid and dog-friendly mountain. Plus, glacial erratics (boulders) line the path.

Sunday River-Newry
Sunday River | photo via torgor___

Sunday River

Elevation: Tops out at 3,140’
Status: Eight Interconnected Peaks

Sunday River’s claim to fame is the eight interconnected peaks, from easier trails on Barker Mountain to the formidable Locke Mountain and Oz. Summer trails lead to White Cap, Locke Mountain, and Spruce Peak.

Even better, Sunday River has a cult following with apres ski activities for all ages, with two yetis roaming the landscape.

You’re also close to Grafton Notch and the Sunday River waterfalls, not to mention famed swimming spots like Frenchman’s Hole in the summer. Plus, the charming community of Bethel is nearby.

Mount Kineo-Moosehead Lake
Mount Kineo | photo via saralynpreston

Mt. Kineo

Elevation: 1,789’
Status: Yosemite/Half Dome Vibes

Mount Kineo’s signature 800-foot cliff facing Moosehead Lake can only be accessed by water from Rockwood. In the winter, you can ski or snowmobile across the frozen lake to tackle the challenging trails to the summit.

The dramatic edge of the mountain is mostly volcanic rhyolite, which was able to withstand the pull of a glacier that shaved the bedrock from the front of the now towering cliff. The backside of the mountain is nothing but a glacier till packed down after millions of years with glacier erratics along the way.

The rocks weep due to the brittle nature of rhyolite, but this helped the Wabanaki make arrowheads and other stone tools. The mountain’s name comes from the legendary Wabanaki warrior, Kinneho.

A full six-mile loop trail circles the mountain, including views from the top of the cliff. Look for frozen waterfalls from the weeping cliff face in winter. Ice climbing is a daring but possible activity in the winter.

Mount Agamenticus-Berwick
Mount Agamenticus | photo via tidesoflifesupyoga

Mount Agamenticus

Elevation: 692’
Status: Highest hill within 12 miles of the ocean from Texas to Portland.

Mount Agamenticus is situated in southern Maine, near the town of York and approximately 12 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. It features a distinctive bald summit with expansive views of the surrounding landscape. The mountain is home to various habitats, including hardwood forests, coniferous forests, and open meadows.

Trails circle the bottom of the mountain across protected ecosystems and climb the summit through easier to challenging (and steep) trails.

Cadillac Mountain Cropped
Cadillac Mountain | photo via

The Mountains Are Calling

The Mountains of Maine span every region, each offering a little something special for visitors. You won’t find a lot of development on these mountains, and weather conditions can change quickly. Don’t expect to have mobile phone service or clean water along the way.

Mainers know these mountains front and back. A great way to find the best trails is to have dinner the night before or breakfast the day of your hike at a local place. You can ask questions and get the best guidance for the ultimate Maine mountain experience.

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