I’ll admit, the first time I hiked to the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, I felt a bit resentful of the throngs at the summit who’d simply driven up the auto road. But you know what? A view like that — one that takes in the rocky coast, the ocean, and the country’s first rays of sunlight — ought to be enjoyed by as many people as possible. Maine has more than its fair share of stunning vistas that don’t require anything more than an adventurous spirit, a half-tank of gas, and an afternoon’s drive. From endless views of the ocean and the islands to postcard perspectives of inland landmarks like Mount Katahdin and Mooselookmeguntic Lake, these are some of the best places in the state to pull over for a quick stretch of the legs. And they’re why I always keep a pair of binoculars in the glove box.
Mount Battie Summit
A short drive up this 800-foot seaside peak in Camden Hills State Park reveals a spectacular view of Penobscot Bay and its many islands, Camden Harbor far below, and the rolling Camden Hills stretching into the distance. The stone observatory bears an inscription by local girl and Pulitzer Prize winner Edna St. Vincent Millay, who was often moved by the view.
Cadillac Mountain Summit
At 1,530 feet, the tallest mountain in Acadia National Park is, at least part of the year (there’s some debate), the first spot in the United States to see the sun. It’s the culmination of several great hikes, but an auto road also leads to the top, where visitors can wander a trail network and scope a number of different vistas.
Height of Land
It’s a modest roadside overlook near Rangeley on Route 17, but the view of Mooselookmeguntic Lake and western Maine’s mountains is anything but modest. The scenic overlook on the side of Spruce Mountain is a highlight of Maine’s stretch of the Appalachian Trail.
It’s a knockout view in any season, the hilltop vista of Walker Pond, Eggemoggin Reach, and the distant Camden Hills that’s visible from a roadside pull-out on Route 15 near Sedgwick. But the time to visit Caterpillar Hill is late summer, when the vast blueberry barrens below turn a vivid crimson.
A. J. “Allie” Cole Scenic Overlook
Enjoy this roadside view of distant Mt. Katahdin while heading up into Maine’s northwoods, because southbound passengers don’t get the chance to pull over. At mile marker 252 on Interstate 95, the view from the Cole overlook takes in sparkling Salmon Stream Lake in the foreground while mile-high Katahdin dominates the horizon.