Maine’s state parks are natural treasures
When you stay in one of our vacation rentals here in Midcoast Maine, there’s no lack of things to do and places to explore.
In an area well-known for its natural beauty and many opportunities for outdoor recreation–there’s a lot of hiking, biking, kayaking, and boating going on around here in the summer–our state parks are one of our prime resources. Seven state parks are located within a half-hour of Camden, and each offers something unique to visitors.
Camden’s identity as the place “where the mountains meet the sea” has been defined by its harbor and the Camden Hills. These “hills” include some of the state’s highest coastal mountains, and are laced with popular hiking and mountain-biking trails. 5,700-acre Camden Hills State Park is one of the state’s most visited state parks, in large part because of its great trail system, in addition to its well-traveled auto road up Mt. Battie to a historic stone tower (and spectacular views across the islands of Penobscot Bay to the mountains of Acadia National Park!) on the summit. The park even boasts some ocean frontage where you can enjoy a picnic and exploring the rocky shore. Some the these highly scenic park trails originate right in town. The Mt. Battie road and more trails can be accessed at the park headquarters just north of Camden on Route One, with yet another trailhead located in nearby Lincolnville.
Ranging south from Camden, you can visit one of Maine’s many scenic lighthouses at Owls Head State Park, in Owls Head. During the summer the lighthouse and former keeper’s house are occasionally open to the public. Nothing beats the view you get from a lighthouse, especially one high on a bluff looking up the coast toward the Camden Hills as the historic windjammer fleet sails by! This park also offers a short trail through spruce forest to a rocky beach, and, if you’re interested in birds, good sea-watching.
Also in Owls Head is Birch Point State Park, known locally as Lucia Beach. This seasonally popular spot offers one of the area’s few public sandy beaches, as well as a few short hiking trails and grills and picnic tables for summer cook-outs. It’s also a great place to launch a kayak, with views of the nearby Mussel Ridge islands.
Inland from Camden, in Liberty, the northwest shore of Lake St. George features Lake St. George State Park. The supervised swim beach was one of my favorite places to swim as a child. The park also offers picnic and play areas, and wonderful boating, canoeing, kayaking, and fishing on the lake itself–perfect for whiling away a summer day.
If you’ve got a boat and are comfortable with sea crossings, you can launch from Lincolnville Beach and head several miles across the bay to Warren Island State Park. Or, for an easier boating experience, take your boat on board the state ferry from Lincolnville to the island of Islesboro, from which you just need to cross a small channel. A visit to this quiet, spruce-covered island, which offers only a small camping area, is a hands-on way to experience one of Penobscot Bay’s many coastal island gems.
Up the coast and inland from the small city of Belfast, Swan Lake State Park offers the quintessential summer lake recreation experience, with a supervised swimming area, picnic facilities, activities such as volleyball and horseshoes. The small but busy lake is a great place for boating and fishing.
Moose Point State Park, north of Belfast in Searsport, is a small oceanfront state park that offers a quiet, scenic respite just off busy Route One. Its trails along the bay are popular among local dog walkers. And public access to the rocky shore is a valued commodity in the area.
Most of Maine’s state parks charge a fee for admission. Some are only open seasonally. Please check the state’s park website for specific and current information on each park.
Wherever you choose to get outside and play while you’re in the area, enjoy yourself!