Photo credits: @expeditionego
Whether you prefer ocean vistas, isolated wilderness, or challenging hikes, Maine is a wonderful state to explore on foot. Acadia National Park is well known as one of the most dog-friendly National Parks and welcomes dogs on all 120 miles of hiking trails and 45 miles of carriage roads within the park. Easy hikes are tough to come by in this part of the country with steep granite slopes that offer sweeping views of the nearby mountains or ocean below.
Moxie Falls Trail - West Forks
This easy 2-mile trail is open year-round, making it accessible no matter the weather. Moxie Falls is one of the state’s highest waterfalls with a vertical drop of almost 90 feet. In the spring and summer, check out the overflowing waterfall, catch the astonishing fall foliage in autumn, and strap on some snowshoes in the winter to see the iced-over falls. Bring bug spray during the summer to keep the bugs away!
Ocean Path Trail: Thunder Hole and Monument Cove - Bar Harbor
Explore some of the best of Acadia National Park, like Thunder Hole and Otter Cliff on this easy 2-mile hike on the flat Ocean Path Trail. If you feel like adding a couple more miles to the trip, deviate from the path toward Gorham Mountain for spectacular views of the coastline. Arrive early to avoid crowds and have the shoreline practically to yourself.
Mount Kineo State Park - Moosehead Lake
Geology nerds will appreciate this hike, whose trails tell the story of the glacial movement that occurred in the region between 12,000 and 18,000 years ago. From the summit of Mount Kineo, enjoy the 360° views of nearby peaks and Moosehead Lake. The mountain is also peregrine falcon territory. After near extinction in the late 1960s, the birds made a comeback in the 1980s.
Penobscot and Sargent Mountains Loop - Acadia National Park
Traverse across two of the highest peaks on Mount Desert Island with unobstructed views. Plan to arrive early in order to avoid crowds and also arrive at the Jordan Pond House to nab a parking spot (before 10am is usually good). Keep in mind that the Jordan Cliffs Trail may be closed during the summer months due to nesting peregrine falcons. Enjoy the free trail snack in the form of Maine blueberries.
Gulf Hagas Trail - 100 Mile Wilderness
While descriptions of Gulf Hagas call this hike the Grand Canyon of Maine, it’s not exactly comparable, but it is a lovely river walk with plenty of waterfalls. In the spring, the Pleasant River crossing can be knee deep and must be forded, as there is no bridge. In the summertime, the river provides nature’s air conditioning and there are a few swimming holes to dip in along the way. Be aware of the $15 charge per person. It’s a steep price, but well worth it.
Little Moose Mountain - Moosehead Lake
For those who seek more remote hikes, this is the one for you. The network of trails at Little Moose Mountain offer day hikes, primitive overnight camping spots, and fishing in undeveloped ponds. The trails are rugged with lots of roots and rocks, so do be sure to bring along a first aid kit and know that your cell phone may not work in an emergency.
Tumbledown Mountain and Little Jackson - Western Mountains Region
This loop can be done in individual sections or as a whole. Some parts are particularly steep and require scrambling, so if your dog is not a mountain goat, then a harness may be in order or plan to skip the section on the Loop Trailhead. The draw of this hike is the opportunity to experience some of the more unique terrain in the region along with some spectacular views.
Cadillac Mountain South Ridge Trail Loop - Acadia National Park
At 1,530 feet high, Cadillac Mountain is the highest peak on the eastern seaboard of the US, and while not all that tall, the trail accumulates over 2,000 feet of elevation gain in the 7.5-mile loop. This hike features ocean views, forested trail, and a small pond to enjoy.
Fire Wardens, Horns Pond, and Appalachian Trail Loop - Bigelow Preserve
Score several peaks and a small section on the Appalachian Trail on this 12.4-mile loop. It’s steep hiking to reach the two highest peaks, Bigelow Col (3,815’) and West Peak (4,145’), but worth it for the 360° views. There are several nearby campgrounds if you want to turn this into an overnight trip(which is highly recommended to fully enjoy the area).
Jen Sotolongo is a writer and photographer and runs Long Haul Trekkers, a blog about independent, responsible travel with a pet. Over the past few years, she and her partner have taken their dogs around the globe including a cycle tour spanning across Europe and South America, proving that adventures can include your dog, no matter where in the world they may be.