Our list of best fall foliage tours in MidCoast Maine will take you to the ocean, up mountains, and walking through blueberry fields. Each of these areas creates a microcosm of weather, producing fall color in a slow wash from north to south, and west to east. This gives you more time to plan your getaway and choose your favorite from our best fall foliage tours in MidCoast Maine. These tours use Captain Nickels Inn as a hub, allowing you to maximize your leaf-peeping trip.
Please feel free to stop, hike, sightsee, and otherwise frolic during your fall getaway. Take a deep breath and smell the fresh air, take in the colorful leaves, listen to them crunch underfoot, and celebrate fall with pumpkins, apples, and our favorite, cider doughnuts. Please don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions; we love to share our insights!
When Are Leaves at their Peak
If we could give you the exact day, we would! Please recognize that every year is slightly different, as the changing of the leave depends on many factors, including temperatures, and the amount of rain received during the year. With that caveat, expect colors to start peaking in mid-September and end in late October, depending on where in Maine you are traveling.
Take a look at this foliage map; the routes that we are recommending are located in Areas 1 – 5, which will give you a longer timeframe in which to plan your trip. For reference purposes, we are located in Area 2, which supports the latest leaf peaking.
Five Different Road Trips
Acadia National Park is an iconic visit in any season. You can just amp that up in fall when you see the gorgeous leaves along with a view of the ocean. If you are choosing this trip, and it is close to peak season or a holiday weekend, expect to see lots of other folks also wanting to take in the beauty of the season.
The Byway is 27 miles long and provides a good overview of Acadia National Park. You will go past areas like Otter Cliff, Thunder Hole, and Sand Beach. Make sure you stop to take pictures at many of the pull-off areas. Much of the road is one-way and expect to pay an entrance fee. Once in the park, you can climb Cadillac Mountain, bike the Carriage Road, and go sea kayaking with a guide. If you want to drive up Cadillac Mountain, you will need a reservation.
Schoodic National Scenic Byway
The Schoodic Scenic Byway covers the “quieter” side of Acadia. It is one of our favorite trips, any time of the year. You will see a slightly less “touristy” side of Maine, where lobstering and clamming are still part of family traditions. Take your time and enjoy the scenery. Bring a box lunch from the Inn, and enjoy the sound of the waves. This 29-mile drive can take as long as you want it to!
Castine and Penobscot Bay Loop
This 80-mile drive skims the coastline and will bring you through several small fishing towns. Each is worth a stop and a walk-through. There are several points of interest along the way, including the Dice Head Lighthouse in Castine, the blueberry barrens of the Blue Hill Peninsula (hopefully you will see it when it is blazing red), and the Woodlawn Museum in Ellsworth.
Rangeley Lakes National Scenic Byway
If you are up for an inland day trip, this is the one for you! Take your time to get to the Scenic Byway, and plan stops along the way. You will be driving right through Freedom, Maine, a town that was unknown until a now famous restaurant, the Lost Kitchen opened several years ago. If you are a fan, stop by and see the Mill. Waterville is the home of Colby College; stop and visit the Museum of Art, or stop for a hike on the Quarry Trails.
The main event, however, is the Rangeley Lakes Scenic Byway. Wind through the lakes and mountains of Western Maine, passing the Appalachian Trail (stop for a bit, if it’s on your bucket list). The centerpiece of the drive is one of the most famous overlooks in the state, the Height of Land. There you get the view of the ever-fun-to-say Mooselookmeguntic Lake and the waterways that comprise Richardson Lakes. Total Byway is 35 miles long from Skowhegan to Rockwood.
Coastal Route through Wiscasset
This 141-mile loop will give you coastal views, and pass through several towns that are fun and interesting including Camden, Rockland, and Wiscasset. Get a great view of the Pemaquid Point and Lighthouse. Then, make a stop at the Camden Hills State Park, and climb Mount Battie, or if you prefer take the Auto Road to the top. You will be awestruck by the panoramic views of Camden Harbor, and Penobscot Bay, and, on a clear day–Cadillac Mountain in Acadia!
What is your choice? Do you love fall views of the waves crashing against the shore, or the reflection of stunning fall leaves in a lake? Plan several days for a getaway and choose several of our best fall foliage tours in MidCoast Maine. Grab your favorite pumpkin-spiced beverage and a sweater, then come enjoy fall at Captain Nickels Inn, Maine-style.
Published September 2022; Updated March 2023