Am I running out of Maine trails to explore? You tell me

In recent years, I’ve given slideshow presentations and talks throughout Maine about my outdoor adventures, and more specifically, the many hikes I’ve been on for this blog. I usually end these talks by opening it up for the audience to ask me questions, and as one might expect, there are a few questions that pop up again and again.

One of the most common questions I’m asked is, “Are you running out of Maine trails to explore?”

My answer is “no.” Not yet. Even though I’ve been writing about Maine hikes for 7.5 years, I haven’t even come close to walking every trail in the state. In fact, I have a long list of Maine trails that I haven’t hiked yet but aim to in the future. Which brings me to another commonly asked question: “How do you decide where to hike for your column?”

Oreo and I enjoying the view on Whitman Mountain

The answer to that question isn’t so simple. A number of factors go into my decision. Here are a few:

  • I try not to visit any trail twice for my column. So any trail I’ve written about before is off limits.
  • I try not to visit the same region two weeks in a row. It’s important for me to mix it up for readers and viewers. So if I hike a trail in the Moosehead Region one week, I won’t return to that area for the next hike.
  • My work schedule and personal life sometimes limits how far I can travel and what days I can hike.
  • The weather sometimes dictates what days I can hike and influences what region I hike in. Maine is a big state, so sometimes it can be sunny up north while it’s raining down south. If given the option, I’ll pick the sun.
  • On occasion, my selection takes into account whether or not I have a hiking companion that day and if that hiking companion is a human or dog. If I’m determined to bring my dog, Oreo, with me, then the trail needs to be dog-friendly. And I tend to save camping trips and the most challenging hikes for times when I have a human hiking companion, such as my husband.
  • While hiking is my primary focus, I’m also branching out to write about outdoor destinations where you can canoe and kayak, ice skate, ski, bike and even snorkel. This opens up many more opportunities.

Lastly, and most importantly, to select a trail or outdoor destination to explore, I work from a list that is always growing. I’ve created this list from reader suggestions via email, social media and face-to-face interactions. I also add trails and locations to the list as I come across them in guidebooks and while surfing around online.

To wrap up this blog post, I’m going to share my current list with the hope that some of you read through it, then post additional trails and locations in the comment section or email them to me at I’m especially looking for suggestions of paddling locations (day paddles or one-night trips that are not on the ocean or in tidal areas), snorkeling locations and mountain biking areas, since I am newer to those sports and don’t have as much experience searching for those types of locations. Help me build my list for the summer!

I also hope this list demonstrates to you how lucky we are to live in a state like Maine, where trails and other outdoor destinations are abundant. With more than 300 Maine trails and trail networks under my belt, I still have many more on my to-do list.

  • Whitecap Mountain in the 100-Mile Wilderness: I tried to find this trail once and got lost on logging roads. I wrote about my frustration and was blown away when I received details driving directions from a handful of readers. This mountain is on the top of my list.
  • Sugarloaf area mountains: I’ve spent a little time the Sugarloaf region, but not in the mountains. I’ve enjoyed mountain biking at the amazing Sugarloaf Outdoor Center and I’ve snowshoed and biked on the Maine Huts and Trails network. Also, years ago, before I started working at the BDN, I hiked to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain in the summer on a ski trail. I think I chose to hike the mountain that way because it was the most direct route, but I wouldn’t do it again. Hiking down a steep, grassy ski trail is very hard on the ankles. I ended up zig-zagging down the wide ski trail, as if I were skiing. But I was lucky enough to see a moose on the trail that day. That was pretty cool. Anyway, my point is, I’d like to hike Sugarloaf Mountain on the actual hiking trail — the Appalachian Trail, and I’d like to hike some nearby mountains, including Crocker and Saddleback mountains, as well as Burnt Hill.
  • Cadillac West Face Trail: I’ve hiked most trails in Acadia National Park on MDI, but not the west side of Cadillac.
  • Turtle Ridge and Tumbledown Dick Mountain in Nahmakanta Public Land: I have a hiking buddy who owns a camp close to these hikes and has offered to guide me on them. We just have to come up with a time that works for us both.
  • The new Rainbow Loop Trail in Debsconeag Lakes Wilderness Area: a little over 5 miles. No dogs.
  • Baker Mountain in the Moosehead Area: The new trail on Baker Mountain are hike on my list, and I know someone involved in the project who is willing to guide me on a hike. We just have to come up with a time that works for us both.
  • Cobscook Bay State Park in Washington County. I former co-worker mentioned that this is one of her favorite places to camp. The park also features hiking trails. Sounds like a great spot. It’s also a great place to ski when the snow conditions are right.
  • Shackford Head State Park in Eastport: a network of short trails that total a couple miles on the ocean.
    West Branch Preserve and Mountain Trail in Jefferson: a 7.5-mile network, dogs permitted.
  • Flint Woods and Village Woods in downtown Farmington: 4.5 miles of trails.
  • Titcomb Mountain Cross Country Ski Trails in Farmington: 10 miles of groomed trails.
  • Whistle Stop Multi-Use Trail in Farmington, Jay and Wilton: 14 miles, connects three towns, motorized use permitted.
  • Parker Pond Headland Preserve in Fayette: 2.6 miles, dogs OK.
  • Perch Pond Recreation Trails in Orono: ideal for a biking adventure.
  • Machias River Preserve in Machias: 5 miles, dogs OK.
  • Erickson Field Preserve in Rockland: in 1.4 mile trail loop.
  • Bass Falls Preserve in Alna: 2.5-mile trail network by Sheepscot River, “fern gully,” fishing cabin and old trees.
  • Holeb Public Reserved Land in Jackman: Sally Mountain and Burnt Jacket Mountain hiking trails.
  • Sabattus Mountain in Lovell: one-mile trail leads up to the 1,253-foot summit.
  • McLellan-Poor Preserve in Northport: 2.1 miles of trails, fields, streams, Belfast Reservoir. Possible wildlife watching spot.
  • Oyster River Bog in Thomaston: 6.7-mile trail through forest.
    A number of Kennebec Land Trust preserves including Curtis Homestead
  • Conservation Area in Leeds (about 4 miles of trails) and Gott Pasture Preserve in Wayne on Wilson Pond (about 1.5 miles of trails).
  • North end of Baxter State Park hikes: Freezeout Trail, Traveler Mountain Loop, South Branch Mountain and Pond, Blackcat Mountain and Horse Mountain. Some of these are overnight trips that involve camping in remote lean-tos.
  • South end of Baxter State Park hikes: Hamlin Ridge and Northwest Basin
  • Far western Maine AT mountains: Old Speck, Baldpate and Bemis Mountain. I’ve actually hiked Old Speck Mountain but it was prior to me starting my column and blog.
  • Mahoosuc Notch: comically tricky to hike because of all the boulders.
  • Warren Island State Park: campground, access by boat from Islesboro, 1.5-mile trail network. I’ve always wanted to visit this little park and I know a ranger there.

Spring is coming! I promise.

Aislinn Sarnacki

About Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the Outdoors pages, focusing on outdoor recreation and Maine wildlife. Visit her main blog at