Take In the Great Outdoors
Every summer, Maine’s state parks officially fling open their gates, offering a chance spend the night in some of the state’s most beautiful locations without spending a fortune. Parking is included in the price of admission, and overnight camping fees range from $11 to $20, depending on the park, along with a $2 per night reservation fee. (Day-use rates are between $3 and $6.50 for adults, even cheaper for Maine residents, and just $1 for children five to eleven. Those under five or over sixty-five get in for free.) If you’re planning to visit many of these parks over the summer, you’ll save even more by purchasing a $60 season vehicle pass, which allows the driver and all passengers unlimited day-use at all state parks (except the Allagash Wilderness Waterway and Baxter State Park). You can make reservations by calling 800-332-1501 from within Maine or 207-287-3824 from out of state, or you can visit the state’s excellent online reservation Web site.
Southern and Western Maine
Crescent Beach State Park, Cape Elizabeth
Greater Portland’s most popular beach has saltwater coves, wooded areas, and rock ledges providing seashore recreation for beachgoers, fishing, watersports enthusiasts, and nature observers. 207-799-5871.
Two Lights State Park, Cape Elizabeth
Offers panoramic views of Casco Bay — and some great picnicking. 207-799-5871.
Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, Freeport
One of Freeport’s best-kept secrets, this is a great nature preserve with hiking and picnicking and views of Casco Bay. 207-865-4465.
Sebago Lake State Park, Naples
Among the most popular parks in Maine, this Greater Portland facility is well known for its swimming, camping, and boat launching. Guided nature walks are also available. 207-693-6613.
Grafton Notch State Park, Newry area
Some fantastically scenic gorges — Screw Auger Falls and Mother Walker Falls — and a pair of great peaks to climb in Old Speck and Baldpate mountains contribute to the overall appeal of this park. 207-824-2912.
Range Ponds State Park, Poland
A day-use park with great swimming, fishing, and popular sports fields. 207-998-4104.
Bradbury Mountain State Park, Pownal
A short hike with great rewards is the draw at this park not far from Portland. It is especially popular with families and picnickers. 207-688-4712.
Rangeley Lake State Park, Rangeley
Camping, landlocked salmon fishing, hiking, and boating are among the draws at this Rangeley institution. 207-864-3858.
Ferry Beach State Park, Saco
Nature trails, hiking, and picnicking, with a prime stretch of sandy beach for swimming. 207-283-0067.
Scarborough Beach State Park, Scarborough
A sandy swimming beach, with marshes, dunes, and fishing. 207-883-2416.
Vaughan Woods State Park, South Berwick
A 250-acre forested tract along the scenic Salmon Falls River offers picnic facilities and hiking trails through old-growth stands of pine and hemlock. 207-384-5160.
Mount Blue State Park, Weld
A gem of a park in the western mountains, Mount Blue offers nature trails, swimming, camping, and canoe and boat rentals. 207-585-2347.
Central and Northern Maine
Camden Hills State Park, Camden
Thirty miles of hiking trails thread through the woods here. Two mountains — Megunticook and Battie — are especially popular with hikers, lifting people up to views of Penobscot Bay. The camping area fills up, too. 207-236-3109.
Peaks-Kenny State Park, Dover-Foxcroft
Great swimming, camping, and fishing reward those who find this great park on upcountry Sebec Lake. 207-564-2003.
Reid State Park, Georgetown
More than a mile of beach, dunes, ledges, and fine swimming draws thousands to Reid in the summer. 207-371-2303.
Lily Bay State Park, Greenville Area
Highly scenic campsites, fishing, hiking, and boating on Moosehead Lake. 207-695-2700.
Warren Island State Park, Islesboro
One of the few island parks in Maine, Warren sits amid beautiful Penobscot Bay and is only accessible by boat, offering hiking, camping, and fishing. 207-941-4014.
Damariscotta Lake State Park, Jefferson
A small, sandy beach on great Damariscotta Lake provides visitors with fishing and swimming opportunities. 207-549-7600.
Lake St. George State Park, Liberty
Swimming, superb fishing, and camping draw people to this corner of Waldo County. 207-589-4255.
Popham Beach State Park, Phippsburg
One of the midcoast’s most popular beaches, Popham offers saltwater swimming to the hardy as well as fishing. The ruins of Fort Popham are nearby. 207-389-1335.
Aroostook State Park, Presque Isle
Maine’s northernmost state park, Aroostook has good camping, hiking, boating, and fishing. 207-768-8341.
Peacock Beach State Park, Richmond
Freshwater swimming and picnicking are the appeal at this park on Pleasant Pond. 207-582-2813.
Moose Point State Park, Searsport
Picnicking on a very scenic stretch of Penobscot Bay is the attraction at this under-used gem. 207-548-2882.
Fort Point State Park, Stockton Springs
This all-but-unknown park provides opportunities for fishing, a pier for boats, and access to a lighthouse and ruins of Fort Pownall nearby. 207-941-4014.
Swan Lake State Park, Swanville
Picnicking, swimming, and fishing on Swan Lake. 207-525-4404.
Holbrook Island Sanctuary, Brooksville
Nature trails and picnicking on the shore of Penobscot Bay, plus a 115-acre island just offshore. 207-326-4012.
Cobscook Bay State Park, Dennysville
Views of Cobscook Bay (and tides of twenty-four feet!) and fantastic camping bring people to this Down East park. Kayakers like the easy access (but be careful of the tides). 207-726-4412.
Shackford Head State Park, Eastport
A ninety-acre undeveloped peninsula in Eastport located off Route 190. The site includes beaches (keep your eyes out for seaglass), protected coves, and a bold headland. A hiking trail from the parking area through the woods to the rocky headland allows beautiful views of Cobscook Bay. 207-941-4014.
Lamoine State Park, Lamoine
Fishing, camping, and boating on Frenchman’s Bay are the draws at Lamoine. A good alternative when nearby Acadia National Park fills up. 207-667-4778.
Quoddy Head State Park, Lubec
Quoddy Head is the state’s only red-and-white-striped lighthouse, overlooking its easternmost shoreline. The hiking here is exceptional, winding for miles atop plunging cliffs. 207-733-0911.
Roque Bluffs State Park, Roque Bluffs
Salt-and freshwater swimming and fishing on Englishman Bay. 207-255-3475.