KAYAKING and CANOEING
Water, water, everywhere! So many choices!
Maine has about 3,500 miles of coastline and over 4,000 lakes and ponds. Some of the loveliest coastal coves and jewel like lakes are right here in the Camden area!
From the Inn you can take a short drive to Norton’s pond or Lake Megunticook ( 2 minutes), or Lincolnville Beach ( 5minutes away) and canoe or kayak. Daily adventures, under the leadership of a Maine guide, head out for Curtis Island where our resident Bald Eagles nest. Kayak adventures to the island bring visitors ashore to enjoy Curtis Island lighthouse and a picnic lunch. Keep a eye out for harbor seals along the way!
If you prefer a more remote adventure, you can canoe or kayak on one of our quiet lakes. Only a short drive from Youngtown Inn & Restaurant are dozens of lakes, some connected to each other, some totally uninhabited where you can see nature at its best. Loons, ducks, bald eagles, osprey … even an occasional moose … may be spotted.
We’ll help you with rentals or tell you where to launch your canoe or Kayak on near by ponds, lakes and Penobscot Bay. kayak. Guided tours happen daily; weather permitting. And just a bit further from the inn, are kayaking adventures along the coastal habitat for native puffins. Whatever your comfort and skill level, there is an adventure you will not want to miss!
Kayak rentals, guided tours and canoes are all available from June through October.
Let us help you plan a real Maine adventure you’ll remember for a lifetime!
HIKING and WALKING
Midcoast Maine is a walkers and hikers paradise!
Whether you prefer a leisurely walk along tree lined village streets to quiet coastal coves or an ambitious hike up the face of a rocky peak, the Camden Hills are the perfect location!
Within only a few minutes of the Inn you can be at the trail head of a great hike leading you to the top of Mt. Megunticok in Camden Hills State Park . Whether you take this trail, or the more leisurely Nature Trail to the top, getting to the top of Mt. Battie is a MUST for any Camden vacation.
Camden Hills State Park has over 30 miles of trails including some with miles of ridge top paths with panoramic 360 degree views of mountains, lakes and Penobscot Bay dotted with islands. Also 5 minutes away from the Inn is Fernald’s Neck Nature Preserve, great quiet hikes, refreshing swimming, or just lazing around and watch people jump of cliffs
The Georges River Land Trust offers thirty us miles of trails with rugged mountains, deep forests, quiet hills and glimpses of ocean.
Camden’s Coastal Mountain Land Trust protects our farms, forests and water resources. They have conserved over 15,000 acres of land and much of this is available for hiking. coastal island, bogs, rivers and watersheds. Come, hike the trails, visit the newly restored Beech Hill hut and ask us how you can help with their efforts.
Yankee Magazine has deemed the walk from Rockport to Camden as “The Most Beautiful Walk In the World” and we believe it is! It is a wonderful walk along tree shaded village streets, country lanes past our “Oreo Cookie Cows” (Belted Galloways) and rocky scenic byways. It is lovely anytime of year…but spectacular in autumn’s colors.
Let us help you plan several wonderful walks and hikes while you are here with us in Camden .
The waters of Penobscot Bay are known in the boating world as among the finest sailing waters on earth. We’d have to agree!
And once you’ve stepped aboard a Maine historic schooner for a sail, it will be one of your fondest Maine vacation memories.
Camden harbor is home to several of the Maine windjammers and while in port, these impressive three and 4 masted ships lend a stately presence. Enjoy watching the supplies come on board for the 3 to 7 day excursions past islands, through channels and along the rocky coast. Passengers of the Mary Day, Angelique and Mercantile feast aboard ship, listen to sea shantys and try their hand at the helm or trimming the sheets! All who come back to the inn for a bit of pampering after their voyage share memories they’ll take home and savor for a long time.
Midcoast Maine is also home to many Maine schooners that set sail daily for two hour or half day trips giving passengers a taste of the sea. It’s a MUST do while in Camden ! Enjoy Schooner Surprise, with Captain Jack and his first mate Barbara, in their 25th season of sailing this beautifully restored 57 ft. schooner. The Appledore is the largest of the day sail vessels. Lazy Jack and Olad also set sail several times a day. Don’t forget your camera! Leaving from Camden , you’ll sail past Curtis Island where you will have a great opportunity to photograph Curtis Island Lighthouse. And, you might get a glimpse of our resident bald eagles or friendly harbor seals.
Nearby Rockport and Rockland harbors are home to other sailing schooners. Trips from these harbors will take you past Indian Island Lighthouse, or past the Rockland Breakwater Light and the Owl’s Head light. Every harbor is different; every site a delight!
There’s no better way to see the coast of Maine!
Rocky shorelines, quiet country byways and mountaintops with ocean views make Midcoast Maine a unique cycling vacation destination. Whether you prefer bicycling our uncrowded and driver friendly back roads or our challenging off road terrain, the Camden/ Lincolnville area has a cycling smorgasbord for you!
We will send you off with route maps and recommend rides based on your skill and desires for a day’s adventure. Relaxing country road rides of 3 to 5 miles with lake views pedaling past Megunticook Lake begins right at the Inn. For the more adventurous, rides of 25 to 100 miles give you all the challenge you desire!
Excellent cycle shops are nearby. They are happy to help you with repairs, gear or quality touring bike or high end bicycle rentals. Group rides, organized by local clubs, are regularly scheduled throughout the season.
Barrett’s Cove Megunticook Lake - a quiet, small, and picturesque fresh water beach overlooking Camden Hills
If you want to enjoy the beach and a spectacular view minus the usual crowds in summer, then Barrett’s Cove on Megunticook Lake in Camden, Maine is the perfect place for you. With Camden’s notoriously heavy tourist traffic, it is surprising that Barrett’s Cove Beach is never that crowded. The lake temperature is normally very warm by July.
This lakeside beach gives you breathtaking views of the sheer cliffs that rise from the waters and make up the Western side of Mount Battie in Camden Hills State Park. This modest beach is town-owned, open to the public and with accessible parking spaces. The swimming areas are designated, with a children’s area shallow enough for your kids to go safely in the water. There is also deeper water for older children and adults with a diving float anchored several hundred feet from shore. The area also has a grassy picnic and play area that are child-friendly.
Barrett’s Cove is the ultimate getaway for a nature-loving family. Aside from the sandy beach, there is a grassy area with picnic tables and outdoor grills set up, perfect for lunches and afternoon snacks. There is also an area with playground equipment, which children can enjoy. The cove even has a public boat access and lauch ramp. If your family is feeling adventurous Barrett’s Cove in Camden, Maine also offers rock climbing facilities in this ideal cliff location.
Public restrooms, showers, and a phone service are also available. It is generally advised, however, for those intending to swim to arrive in their bathing costumes already instead of changing into them at the beach. You can also see the Camden Hills and rock cliffs surrounding Megunticook Lake, especially Maiden’s Cliff that is easily recognizable by the enormous white cross standing on it.
Barrett’s Cove is a welcome and affordable respite for families visiting the area. Barrett’s Cove Beach is located on Beaucaire Lane, off Route 52, on Megunticook Lake in Camden, Maine very close to the Youngtown Inn.
Owls Head Light – a short 30-foot cylindrical tower with a 16 mile beam of light
Owls Head State Park and Light are a great place to visit while you are in the Camden Maine area. Owls Head State Park is located in Owls Head, Maine which is about a 25 minute drive from Camden. The park offers panoramic views of Western Penobscot Bay and the entrance to Rockland Harbor. The Owls Head State Park itself consists of one main trail head that splits into two separate paths. One path heads down to the beach, while the other heads up to the Owls Head Light.
If you choose to go down to the beach, you will get to see a fantastic rocky beach that will give you a pristine view of the lighthouse and the cliffs on which it stands. The cliffs look fantastic as their worn rusty color reflects beautifully in the water with pine trees covering the top of the cliffs. The walk down to the beach is very relaxing although it can get a little steep at times
If you choose to take the other trail and head to the lighthouse, then you will be walking most of the way through a forest that is fairly thick and obscures your view of surrounding water while you walk. However, there are certain spots along the way that will grace you with excellent views.
Owls Head State Park - a sweeping panoramic view of Western Penobscot Bay
The Owls Head State Park’s main attraction is the Owls Head Light. Green & Foster and Jeremiah Barry designed the lighthouse in 1826, by order of then President John Quincy Adams to aid in the lime transportation industry at the time. The lighthouse was built to help guide ships safely into Rockland Harbor as lime was being produced in large quantities and needed to quickly and safely be exported to other parts of the country.
This still working lighthouse was initially installed with Winslow Lewis Lamps and Reflectors. A separate building, the keeper’s house was built in 1854. In 1856, the Owls Head Light was upgraded and installed with a fourth order Fresnel lens, one of the few remaining in use in Maine. The boathouse and the fog signal building were removed when the lighthouse was automated in 1989. The keeper’s house, walkways, oil house, and generator building still remain.
If you get a chance to see the Owls Head Light at night, then you are in for a treat. The light from the 4th order fresnel lens can be seen for over 16 miles. Although the lighthouse itself is comparatively small for the region standing at only 30 feet, it is built upon a rock formation that shoots 70 feet in the air. This gives the lighthouse the effect of being 100 feet tall.
Although a popular attraction, the lighthouse itself and keeper’s house are not open to public viewing and no tours are offered. Both are housed within the Coast Guard complex and the keeper’s house is still in use by Coast Guard personnel. Parking spaces are available and the grounds open to the public. There are also public restrooms near the parking lot.
Visitors can climb the wooden stairs to the lighthouse and oil house but most of the other areas are off limits, posted with restricted signs. People are warned that the fog whistle is operational and may sound off in fog conditions every 20 seconds. Visitors may still take good photographs of the lighthouse and its surroundings although the angles will be limited because of the imposing restrictions. You can enjoy the view of Rockland Harbor while standing on the long wooden steps leading up to the lighthouse.
Whether you are just passing through or visiting the Camden area on vacation and looking for some interesting sightseeing excursions, the Owls Head State Park and Light is definitely a trip worth making.
Maine Lighthouse Museum – exhibiting the largest collection of lighthouse artifacts in the country
The Maine Lighthouse Museum can be found in Rockland, Maine. It currently houses the largest collection of lighthouse lenses as well as the biggest and best collection of Coast Guard memorabilia and lighthouse artifacts in the entire country. If you have even a passing interest in lighthouses or American maritime history, then this is the place for you.
The Maine Lighthouse Museum is known across the country for its fantastic lenses and heartwarming stories of the old lighthouse keepers and their families. It is in the same building as the Maine Discovery Center, Light Depot Annex Gift Shop, as well as the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce. It is surrounded by a ton of restaurants, art galleries, boutiques, and much more.
Maine Lighthouse Museum - preserving America’s lighthouse era and our maritime lifesaving tradition and history
The museum has roots dating back to 1972. Kenneth Black, a retired Coast Guard Officer, was the founder of the Shore Village Museum, the precursor to the Maine Lighthouse Museum. He aimed to preserve the nation’s heritage and to promote the study and appreciation of maritime history for generations to come. The Shore Village Museum once housed a collection of Civil War memorabilia, maritime materials, and lighthouse exhibits that can now be found in the Maine Lighthouse Museum. The contents were transferred in 2004 when the continuously growing collection and exhibits outgrew its old home and the Shore Village Museum closed. In 2005, the Maine Lighthouse Museum already presented more rare lighthouse lenses than any other museum in the country. And then later in spring of 2007, the American Lighthouse Foundation decided to merge the collection of the Museum of Lighthouse History in Wells, Maine to the Maine Lighthouse Museum as well, thus creating the largest lighthouse museum in the United States.
A nonprofit educational organization, the Maine Lighthouse Museum’s aim is to educate and promote to the public America’s Lighthouse and Lifesaving history and tradition, and its continuing progress through the years. The museum has the largest collection of Fresnel lenses, a type of lens invented by French physicist Augustin-Jean Fresnel back in the 1820s, specifically for use in lighthouses. Compared to other lenses of the time, the Fresnel lens were much thinner and lighter in design, allowing more light to pass through them and making the lighthouses more visible at longer distances, serving as guides to mariners.
Exhibits in the museum display different stories of bravery and dedication to the service of the men and women in the United States Coast Guard and United States Life-Saving Services. There are vintage photographs of famous lighthouse keepers such as Abbie Burgess Grant, Robert Sterling, Ida Lewis, Fanny Mae Salter, and others. Complete and detailed lighthouse models are on display here, to show what different lighthouses looked like. Numerous buoys, fog horns, and fog bells are also showcased, along with other prized and one of a kind memorabilia and artifacts that cannot be seen anywhere else.
Farnsworth Art Museum – a nationally-recognized art museum in the heart of Rockland Maine
The Farnsworth Art Museum houses a nationally-recognized collection of American art in its 20,000 square feet of gallery space. The museum highlights the works of artists with associations to Maine and who have gained national attention for their artistry. The museum features some of the best works of American artists of the 18th and 19th century including Gilbert Stuart, Maurice Prendergast, Frank Benson, Eastman Johnson, Thomas Sully, Thomas Eakins, Childe Hassam, and Fitz Henry Lane. All of this artwork is in the permanent collection of the Farnsworth Art Museum so that you can see them all year round.
The Farnsworth Art Museum is also the host of the nation’s second largest collection of work by elite sculptor, Louise Nevelson, and has created and opened four new galleries dedicated solely to contemporary art.
When you visit the Farnsworth Art Museum, do not forget about the Farnsworth Art Museum Library located on the Rockland main campus. There are also two additional historic buildings that complete the complex, the Farnsworth Homestead and the Olson House.
Farnsworth Art Museum - two historic homes open for public viewing
The Farnsworth Homestead was built in 1850 and was the home of the museum’s benefactor, Lucy Farnsworth. The Farnsworth Homestead is located adjacent to the entrance of the Museum in Rockland. Lucy Farnsworth was the daughter of Rockland’s most successful businessman and in 1935, at her death, she bequeathed 1.3 million dollars to be used for the museum’s creation.
The interior of the Farnsworth Homestead house is a refection of the beauty of a high Victorian style, while the exterior reflects the Greek Revival style. This structure has remained almost entirely intact and unaltered, however several electrical and plumbing changes have been made for safety reasons. The Farnsworth Homestead was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.
The Olson House located in Cushing, Maine (pictured here to the left) has been the subject of many works of art by Andrew Wyeth including his most famous painting Christina’s World in 1948. The house was originally built in 1743, however several enlargements and additions were made to the home until 1871. The museum maintains the home’s original furnishings and it is open for public viewing. In 1993, the Olson House was also added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The Wyeth Center – celebrating “America’s first family of art”
A highlight of the Farnsworth Art Museum is the Wyeth Center. It exclusively features pieces of work from three generations of the Wyeth family: N.C (Newell Convers) Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth, and Jamie (James Browning) Wyeth, who are collectively known for being “America’s first family of art”. The Wyeth Center consists of several components and has a dedicated program of collecting, research, and interpretive exhibitions.
N.C Wyeth was one of America’s greatest illustrators who illustrated for 112 books, including Robinson Crusoe and Treasure Island. He also produced more than 3,000 realist paintings in his lifetime. His son, Andrew Wyeth, was also a realist painter, referred to as a “Painter of the People”. One of Andrew Wyeth’s most famous works is Christina’s World (1948), depicting his neighbor Christina Olson. Jamie Wyeth is Andrew’s second son, also a realist painter. He prefers oil as his medium while his father worked mostly with watercolor and tempera. Jamie’s posthumous portrait of John F. Kennedy is one of his most famous images.
Exhibits of James Wyeth and N.C. Wyeth are primarily held in the “church building” which is a former Methodist Church which dates back to the late 19th century. You can also see additional works in the downstairs of the Linda Bean Folkers Gallery and the upstairs of the Marylouise Tandy Cowan Gallery.
A beautiful Victorian house which lies across from the church on Grace Street includes a separate research facility that is devoted almost entirely to James Wyeth. This is also a great place to find basic information and reference materials related to all three generations of the Maine artists.
Every minute spent at the Farnsworth Art Museum is a minute well spent. It is a unique opportunity to see excellent art as well as some amazing architecture. For more information about the Farnsworth Art Museum, please visit their website at farnsworthmuseum.org
Owls Head Transportation Museum – over 150 antique exhibits, including aircraft, motorcycles, bicycles, and automobiles
Owls Head is a small town located just a few miles south of Lincolnville Maine. It features the Owls Head Transportation Museum. The museum features over 200 antique aircrafts, motorcycles, bicycles, and automobiles. Some of these transportation pieces date back to the very early 1800′s. But don’t worry, you don’t need to be a big aircraft or antique car buff to appreciate everything that the museum has to offer. It was designed so that anyone can walk in and enjoy the exhibits, especially children. It is designed similar to an aircraft hanger, so you will never feel “trapped” like you can in the tight confines of some museums.
All year long, you will be treated to different events that are traditionally hosted at the museum. During the warmer months you will even be privy to unique aviation shows and all sorts of demonstrations. The museum consistently documents and researches its collections and even offers educational publications and programs for its visitors. The core of the collection focuses on the “pioneer” period from the first attempts at manned flight and the development of automobile transportation. This is a great way to get a historical perspective about what it took to get transportation to where it is today.
Owls Head Transportation Museum – an operating collection of vehicles from the Red Baron Fokker Tri-plane to a Phantom Rolls Royce and much more
The Owls Head Transportation Museum was founded in 1974 and is situated adjacent to the Knox County Regional Airport. In total it spans over 100,000 square feet for both exhibitions and for daily display. With so much space and so many unique exhibits, the Owls Head Transportation Museum has gained national recognition. What makes the museum different from other similar museums is that all the vehicles on display are in working condition.
Some of the consistent favorites of patrons include the 1917 Fokker Dr. I Tri-plane. This is the same type of plane that Manfred Von Richthofen flew in World War I. Don’t recognize the name? He is the notorious Red Baron. There is also a full-scale replica of the Kitty Hawk, the flyer that the Wright Brothers used for the first powered successful manned flight in 1903 in North Carolina.
There is also a breathtaking 1929 Phantom Rolls-Royce and a 1919 Harley Davidson. The oldest car in the Owls Head Transportation Museum is a Benz from 1885. You also can’t miss the 1914 Rolls-Royce Limousine.
Some of the oldest exhibits available to visitors include the famous Cayley Glider from 1804, 1868 Velocipede Boneshaker, and the 1880 Merlin Portable Steam Engine.
If you have the time or are vacationing with children in the Camden area, then the Owls Head Transportation Museum is definitely worth a visit. It has been designed to be very child friendly with interactive activities and even a small gym to help relieve some of their pent up energy. Overall, it is one of the most unique collections of aircraft, automobiles and transportation exhibits in the entire country and set up to make everyone leave in awe, even if they have no interest in the transportation industry and its history.
Camden Maine Attractions
Camden and Camden Harbor – a picturesque harbor village at the foot of Camden Hills on Penobscot Bay
Camden, Maine is known around the state as the “Jewel of the Maine Coast”, and for good reason. It is a quaint town by the sea featuring a beautiful harbor that is always full and busy, especially during the summer months. It is a reflection of what everyone thinks of when they picture a small New England seaside village.
Camden’s historic 19th century architecture anchors the town’s business district and picturesque quality. Downtown Camden is highlighted with local shops and boutiques that serve to create a more intimate shopping experience. Specialty shops like the Planet, the Emporium, Margo Moore, the Admiral’s Buttons, House of Logan, the Ducktrap Bay Trading Company and many others, each with a trendy selection of gifts, accessories, and/or specialty crafts, give the town a sophisticated worldly feel to its marketplace. The town is the perfect size for exploring on foot, which allows a leisurely browse of the small locally owned shops and boutiques. There is also a host of excellent galleries and restaurants that can quickly consume your day. With great food, highlighted with traditional New England flavors, and a creative style that can only be found in Maine, Camden’s downtown and harbor business district offers visitors a unique shopping outlet.
Camden Harbor – a pleasure boater’s paradise
Camden Harbor has historically been a premier attraction in the area. Camden Harbor embodies everything that a Maine boating community is known for. The harbor features outstanding ships, yachts, and Windjammers that are typically docked right nearby on the waterfront. Camden sits on Penobscot Bay which is considered by many mariners to be one of the best cruising bays in the world. A great way to see the bay is by taking a short sightseeing cruise or day sail around Camden Harbor. Several companies offer sightseeing cruises that include the chance to observe the Camden lighthouse, Curtis Island Light, along with other lighthouses and uninhabited islands in the area that contain undisturbed wildlife. The more adventurous can take advantage of a two hour kayak trip. It begins in the calm waters surrounding the boathouse deep within the harbor nestled in the middle of million dollar yachts. Soon you are paddling against the waves that circle Curtis Island at the entrance of the harbor and its historic lighthouse that was built in 1836 . This short trip may be only two hours, but will give you a lifetime of memories. Camden has several Windjammers and schooners set to take you on a trip around the harbor, an excursion out on the bay, or even a multi-day cruise of Penobscot Bay and the surrounding islands.
Elegant Mansions, Historic Inns and other points of interest
The reason for Camden’s worldly atmosphere is often attributed to the beautiful mansions and estates that dot the coastline of this small seaside community. Accordingly, Camden/Lincolnville is home to some of the wealthiest individuals in Maine. Affluent families built their “summer homes” in Camden because it was considered one of the most exclusive travel destinations in New England in the late 1800s. These families were generous enough to gift the community with a beautiful public library and a spectacular amphitheater. These families also contributed to the building of Camden’s popular attractions such as the Village Green, the Camden Opera House, the Camden Yacht Club, and Harbor Park. The Village Green, the Camden Amphitheater, and Camden Harbor Park are historic landscaped spaces that have been fully restored to emanate a beauty that withstands the test of time.
Camden offers several points of interest, the most popular of which is Camden Hills State Park. Located just a couple of miles from downtown, Camden Hills State Park offers a myriad of hiking and walking trails along with a 800 foot summit with spectacular views of Camden Harbor and Penobscot Bay. Viewing Camden from the summit of Mount Battie in Camden Hills State Park is like staring at a postcard. It is almost unbelievable that a view like this is real.
Aside from sightseeing and outdoor adventures, summer and fall always find this pleasant harbor town abuzz with arts and crafts fairs and other cultural activities. Camden surely is no newcomer when it comes to the arts. The arts in the Camden area are interspersed throughout the local community, from local craft shops and crafts fairs to independent art galleries, opera halls, and nationally recognized museums. Carlos Salzedo established the Summer Harp Colony in Camden. Shakespeare was played in the Amphitheatre and the Bay Chamber Concerts are frequently staged at the Camden and Rockport Opera Houses. Camden bore Pulitzer Prize winner Edna St. Vincent Millay who was a native and movies such as the 1957 film Peyton Place were filmed in this picturesque town. Camden is still considered as a top choice in Maine as a movie location for Hollywood and the rich cultural heritage still continues.
Today, Camden vies with Kennebunkport and Bar Harbor as one of the most popular tourist destinations in Maine. The elaborate mansions of the well-to-do still dominate the shady side streets (many have been converted into bed-and-breakfasts, like the Youngtown Inn used to be a doctor’s house), and the continued presence of wealthy New Englanders has given Camden a grace and sophistication that eludes most of Maine’s other coastal towns.
Camden Hills State Park- 5,700 acres with wooded hills, and an 800 foot summit with sweeping views of Penobscot Bay
Camden Hills State Park is a vast 5,700-acre park where visitors are treated to 30 miles of hiking trails, breathtaking views of surrounding hills and lakes, well-maintained and equipped campgrounds, and a large picnic area for family and friends.
The National Park Service and the Civilian Conservation Corps created the park in the 1930s, formerly known as the “Camden Hills Recreation Development Area.” The name was later changed to Camden Hills State Park in 1947 and it has been one of Maine’s most popular attractions.
The view from the summit of Mount Battie is definitely worth the trek. Once at the summit you will get a full panoramic view of surrounding lakes, the beautiful wooded hillsides, and of course Camden Harbor and Penobscot Bay. By foot, the hike to Mount Battie will normally take up to two hours but you can opt to get to the top by car if you do not feel like the walk up. A fee is charged for the drive up the summit. During the fall season, it is a popular activity for the people to get to see the beautiful fall colors of the surrounding hillsides. Mount Megunticook, the highest peak on the Atlantic seaboard, is another good hiking destination, also with excellent views, although its summit is not as open as Mount Battie.
Camden Hills State Park- over 30 miles of scenic hiking trails
Hikers will definitely enjoy the 30 miles of trails the park is known for. Access to the hiking trails are all accessed from 5 main trail-heads. Arm yourself with a map as the five trailheads within the park are not well marked and you might miss them although the trails themselves are well maintained. The trails mostly go around or up the mountains and are usually up to four miles long each. A very popular hiking trail in the park is Maiden’s Cliff Trail which takes the hiker to spectacular views of Megunticook Lake and the surrounding mixed forest.
Compared to other parks in the area, the hiking trails are considered to have an incline closer to hills than mountains. This makes hiking ideal for families with children as well as people who are only interested in a great view. The overall degree of difficulty is low because there are many areas with just moderate inclines and the trails average only 2 or 3 miles in length. However, for serious hikers, the trails have been designed to connect to each other throughout the park, which allows you to make your hikes as long as you want. With the ability to create your own loop, the possibilities are endless. If you have all day, then you can take all day to finish your hike. If you only have a couple of hours, there are trails for that too. July is the best time to go as it is the driest season. The trails get rather muddy during the rainy season.
Wildlife lovers flock to the park as it hosts many unique birds that are hard to find throughout the rest of Maine. Camden Hills State Park is full of wildlife and is a popular spot for picnicking and camping. For those who enjoy the outdoors and camping, the Camden Hills State Park campground has over a hundred individual sites to choose from, complete with bathrooms and showers with hot water. The whole of the campsite is arranged in a way that you will not be too bothered with the other campers, offering some semblance of privacy. A reservation to stay on the campground is necessary, though. There is also a large picnic area, complete with picnic tables and outdoor grills. On the oceanside of the park, there are rock fishing opportunities with a great view of the shoreline and Penobscot Bay.
Camden Hills State Park has the advantage of being located near Acadia National Park which attracts a majority of the visitors in the area. This makes Camden Hills State Park much less crowded than it otherwise would be, leaving the environment more serene and relaxing. Camden Hills State Park is a great destination for those planning a slew of recreational activities, highly recommendable for nature lovers and outdoor people. Fees are charged depending on where you intend to go. The park is located at 280 Belfast Road, Camden, Maine.
Maiden’s Cliff - a natural rock outcropping formation overlooking Megunticook Lake
Maiden’s Cliff is part of Camden Hills State Park, with views of Megunticook Lake and its surrounding woods and countryside. It is a very popular destination for tourists and is easily recognizable by the white cross standing on the top of the 800-foot cliff. The trail towards the top is a mile long, with the first half a steep climb while the last part is more on level ground. The hike to the cliff will normally take around forty-five minutes to an hour to complete.
The white cross on top of Maiden’s Cliff is actually a memorial to Elenora French, an 11-year old girl who fell off the cliff on May 7, 1864. She climbed the cliff along with her older sister, friends, and teacher when a sudden gust of wind blew her hat off. According to her older sister’s account of the events, Elenora successfully caught her hat and sat on a rock near the edge of the cliff but while she was putting it back on, another gust of wind pushed her off the edge, falling 300 feet down. Elenora was still alive when they climbed down to get to her and took her to the house round the corner today the Youngtown Inn and she did not even sustain any broken bones. Unfortunately, she had suffered internal injuries and the young girl died the next day.
Maiden’s Cliff Cross – a memorial to Elenora French
To remember Elenora French and her tragic end on the beautiful but dangerous cliff, Joseph B. Steams had a cross erected on the site of the tragedy. It was a simple white cross that after years of exposure to the weather and elements gave way and had to be replaced more than once. The cross that was put up in 1947 was blown down on January 17, 1980 and replaced with a new cross that weighed 600 pounds and measured 12 feet by 24 feet. Helicopters of the Air National Guard installed this fourth replacement of Elenora’s Memorial Cross.
On September 15, 1986, Roy Brown and Sam Dyer, together with their tools and supplies, climbed the trail to install a monument donated by Coastal Monuments and Laite Funeral Home. It was inscribed with the words, “In memory of Elenora French” Brown and Dyer installed the memorial at the base of the cross, drilling into the rock.
In May of 1988, vandals toppled the cross and destroyed the hard work the two men had given to the memorial two years earlier. The Camden Fire Department Rescue team and Camden Parks and Recreation Department volunteers and members labored for long hours to put the cross right again. Two helicopters from the 240th Engineer Group of the Maine National Guard also helped in putting the cross upright once again, secured with cables from a donation from the Wayfarer Marine Corporation.
When the cross’ south arm broke off, it was replaced with a steel cross donated by Frank O’Hara Jr. On Memorial Day 1992, the steel cross was installed, reinforced with epoxy paint to make it more hardy against nature’s elements and secured with cables donated by the Wayfarer Marine Corporation once again. This cross still stands today.
Maiden’s Cliff Trail and hiking in Camden Hills State Park
Maiden’s Cliff provides just one of many spectacular views in Camden Hills State Park. However, it has been a long-time favorite hiking destination for visitors and locals alike. The walk to the top of Maidens Cliff can be done in as little as 30 minutes and is well worth the walk. Once at the top, you will get a unique panoramic view of Lake Megunticook, the Atlantic Ocean, and the entire countryside. All of this is from an 800 foot cliff that drops straight down.
The walk to the top is very relaxing as you travel the over a gravel path. The walk starts by leading you through a breathtaking forest, pass a well-recognized massive boulder, over a bridge, then back into the woods and finally over some rocky terrain to the top of Maiden’s Cliff.
The trail to Maiden’s Cliff is often combined with multiple other hiking trails in Camden Hills State Park which can easily turn a 30 minute walk into an all day hiking event. A standard route is to travel the Maiden’s Cliff Trail and then connecting with the Scenic Trail and finally moving onto Ridge Trail, which will soon return you back to the Maiden’s Cliff Trail.
Penobscot Bay – one of the best cruising bays in the world
The coast of Maine offers one of the ten best cruising venues for pleasure boaters in the world and “the jewel of the Maine coast” is Penobscot Bay, which is considered to be the best and most scenic cruising grounds in Maine. Penobscot Bay originates from the mouth of Maine’s Penobscot River and is the deepest body of water in the Gulf of Maine. Forty miles long by just twenty miles wide, Penobscot Bay is populated with a few larger islands, Vinalhaven, North Haven and Islesboro, and Mohegan Island hundreds of smaller uninhabited islands with secluded anchorages, quaint fishing villages, working harbors and summer resort destinations. Penobscot Bay shelters midcoast Maine, and its renowned waters are home to an extensive lobster and fishing industry, cruising ports of call for the Maine Windjammer fleet, and incredible panoramic vistas from every vantage point. You will find some of Maine’s more picturesque coastal scenery on this part of the coast – secluded offshore islands and majestic hills rising above the scenic bay.
Penobscot Bay – a working bay on the Maine Coast
Penobscot Bay served as the primary transportation channel for the one time “lumber capital of the world,” which was the city of Bangor, Maine, back in the middle to late 19th century. Named after the major river that feeds it, the Penobscot Bay region forms part of the traditional homeland of the Wabanaki Indians, in particular the Penobscot tribe (also named after this river). For thousands of years, they hunted, fished, and gathered clams and other food in this bay area. Ancient remains of their campsites have been found on the bay’s shores and islands. During the 19th and early 20th century, many of the bay’s islands were important sources for granite, and the islands’ quarries provided materials for monuments and important buildings throughout the country. Abandoned artifacts of these activities remain on many of the bay’s islands, and the rise and fall of the granite industry changed the region significantly: island communities that once attracted skilled labor from Europe and all over the United States disappeared virtually overnight.
Today, the largest working industries on Penobscot Bay are lobstering and the commercial fishing indusries. Rockland is known as the “Lobster Capital of the world” as the majority of Maine lobsters are caught in this part of the Maine coast. There are many towns like Rockport, Rockland, Owls Head, and others where you can see lobstermen bringing in their daily catch at the docks and where you can actually buy lobster fresh off the boat.
Cruising Penobscot Bay and the surrounding islands
You do not have to own a boat to enjoy cruising Maine’s Penobscot Bay. Camden and Rockland offer a number of cruises both power boat day trips and sailing day trips that allow visitors to get out on the bay and experience the beauty of this part of the Maine coast. On any given day on the bay, one is likely to meet a fascinating variety of vessels, from private pleasure craft and sleek schooners to diligently maintained windjammers and working island ferries as well as lobster fishermen and power mega yachts of the rich and famous, all cruising the waters of Penobscot Bay.
Cruising along the shore between Camden, Rockport and Rockland will also give you a close-up view of how new and old money is spent in America. There are stunning estates of weathered clapboard and wooded enclaves, as well as newer retreats with freshly planted landscaping. During the summer, the sun rises nearly every morning to find the bay “flat as a mirror”. You can hear every bird, every seal, every fish jump for miles. Ducks and gulls float effortlessly by heading up the bay. The sounds of life on land are hauntingly absent. Suffice it to say that taking a cruise on Penobscot Bay is easily the most pleasant and memorable experience for many people during their vacation stay in the Midcoast Maine area.
Rockland Breakwater & Breakwater Light – over 700,000 tons of granite blocks
The Rockland Breakwater and Lighthouse is a good choice for an interesting walk as well as providing a different kind of outdoor experience when visiting the Camden area. The Rockland Breakwater is rich in history and has been critically important to Rockland Harbor since it was built. The breakwater is just under a mile long and is a beautiful and scenic walk on sunny days. However, during bad weather, waves often crash over the granite breakwater which can make the walk a very wet one. At the end of the pier, you get a stunning panoramic view of Rockland as well as a glimpse of Owls Head Light at the entrance of Rockland Harbor on the western side of Penobscot Bay.
The Rockland Breakwater was built with over 700,000 tons of granite at a price of $750,000 and took almost two decades to complete (1881-1899). It was built because in the 1850′s, several big storms from the northeast caused an extreme amount of damage to the inner parts of Rockland Harbor. Without the breakwater, it would be impossible for Rockland Harbor to fulfill its potential as a commercial port and working harbor.
The Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse at the end of the pier was not built until 1902 and is still used today. At one point, the Coast Guard had planned on destroying the lighthouse, however after a large public outcry, the Samoset Resort took over the upkeep of the building. In 1998, the Rockland City Council took over the property under the Maine Lights Program. In fact, the emblem and letterhead of the City of Rockland bears the image and symbol of the Rockland Breakwater Light.
Rockland Breakwater – nearly a mile long hike out into the bay and Rockland Harbor
The Rockland Breakwater is open to the public every day. You can visit the lighthouse by walking across the mammoth granite blocks that make up the breakwater. The granite blocks were cut precisely to fit and were placed end-to-end in water up to 70 feet deep and traversing 7/8th of a mile to the end of the granite pier. On weekends during the summer months, the Rockland Breakwater Light hosts an open house. During the rest of the week visitors pour into the lighthouse to see an excellent museum featuring memorabilia from the U.S. Coast Guard. The Rockland Breakwater is a great place to go saltwater ground fishing as it provides shelter and the perfect habitat for many saltwater groundfish like rock bass and sand sharks.
Any local will tell you that the best views for photographing the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse are from the water itself. If you do not want to travel on any of the boats and schooners that frequent the harbor, there are daily ferries from Rockland to Vinalhaven and to North Haven that pass close by. The ferries run hourly during the day from the Maine State ferry terminal located in Rockland Harbor nearby.
Walking the Rockland Breakwater – a few important points to bear in mind
When crossing the Rockland Breakwater to the Lighthouse, it is important to keep several things in mind. As you embark on this fantastic walk, treat it like you would a hike through the nearby woods and state parks.
There is no running water at the lighthouse, which means no bathrooms. However, during the summer months there is a port-a-potty available. This also means that you need to bring water for yourself and your pets just like a hike. You also need to make sure to wear appropriate shoes. The walk totals almost 2 miles, including the return trip. Granite also can become very slick when it gets wet, so pay attention. There are also some gaps between the blocks that can trip you up if you are not paying attention.
Finally, you should always dress for cooler weather than what you feel at the harbor because there is always a cool breeze on the breakwater. There is also a noticeable decrease in temperature as you approach the lighthouse because, remember, it is nearly a mile out into the bay.
Rockport Maine – an equally picturesque neighbor right next to Camden Maine
While Camden, Maine is consistently the focus of visitors from around the country, its neighbor Rockport, Maine should not be overlooked. Camden and Rockport are right next to each other, so visiting one necessitates visiting the other. Rockport is a small Maine harbor village with a population of 3,209 people. The town was first settled in 1769 by Robert Thorndike. During the 19th century, the primary industries were shipbuilding, lime production, and ice exportation.
By 1882, Rockport became one of the leading lime producers in the country, with production happening all year round. The town also became known for its “Lily Pond Ice” export. 50,000 tons of clear ice was harvested every year and exported to different countries around the world. The ice was said to be so clear that one could read a newspaper beneath a thick layer of it.
Originally, Rockport was a part of Camden known as Goose River but the town officially separated from Camden in early 1891 from a dispute over the cost of a bridge construction or what was dubbed “The Bridge Question”. Rockport kept half of its original population as well as the lime and ice exportation industries. In 1907, a fire destroyed most of the lime sheds and ice houses, neither industries were rebuilt, resulting in an economic decline in the local economy of Rockport. Today, the remnants of the old lime kilns can be seen on the waterfront and in the Rockport Marine Harbor Park.
Rockport Maine – a creative arts venue and home to one of Maine’s best art galleries
Today, Rockport, Maine is known for being a cultural and artistic town with a large community of local artists as well as a destination resort for creative professionals around the world. Rockport has had its share of benefactors over the years who have supported the creative arts. One was Mary Louise Curtis Bok, a local philanthropist and one of the largest landowners in Rockport, who founded the Curtis Institute and Bay Chamber Concerts. Mary Lea Park in Rockport was named partly in her honor. The town-owned Rockport Opera House is right next to the Mary Lea Park, constructed in 1891, it can seat up to 400 people and offers music and dance, plays, and other activities the year round. The Opera House is where the renown Bay Chamber Concerts are regularly held.
Rockport is also home to the Maine Media College. The college provides a focused educational creative experience distinguished by a dedication to craftsmanship, creativity, and critical thinking. Maine Media College offers a Professional Certificate program and a Master of Fine Arts Degree program in the fields of Photography, Filmmaking, and Multimedia. The college offers an immersive environment conducive to concentrated work. The curriculum honors historical forms and practices while embracing new technologies and modes of creative expression.
There are many fine art galleries in Midcoast Maine but one of the best is the Center for Maine Contemporary Art located right in the village center. The Center is a converted firehouse that now is home for constantly changing visual arts displays. The Center for Maine Contemporary Art is recognized as one of the best art galleries in the state of Maine, where many works of Maine artists are displayed. With Rockport being a feature destination for aspiring artists, the local art scene is like no other in the country. The influx of artists has created a unique environment where restaurants are crowded with local lobstermen, and tradespeople sitting elbow to elbow with aspiring artists.
Rockport Marine Park and Andre the Seal
Another Rockport attraction is the Rockport Marine Park. It has a replica of a locomotive used in transporting the prosperous lime production back in the days. There are also three restored lime kilns originally used in the 1800s, these kilns produced lime from limestone.
The marble statue of Andre the Seal is also part of the park. It is a memorial to a real harbor seal who was abandoned as a pup and found by Rockport resident, Harry Goodrigde. He was given the name Andre by his adoptive family. Because of his amazing life, Andre became the subject of two books and a 1994 feature film. The marble statue was unveiled by Andre the Seal himself in 1978.
Andre the Seal died in 1986, after suffering injuries from a fight with another male seal. The plaque on his statue reads: Abandoned at birth, he was found, befriended, raised and trained by Harry Goodridge of Rockport, Maine. Andre is honorary Harbormaster of Rockport Harbor and is a celebrity of more than local renown. His antics have delighted people far and wide.
Rockport Marine Park is open to the public daily and visitors can enjoy the harbor views, as well as the picnic areas, and short paths for walking.
Rockport Harbor and Rockport Marine Park are excellent destinations for families with many historic features and great locations for picnics. The park even has a small beach that lines you up for a great view of the bay. It is known around the area as one of the most picturesque harbors and scenic small parks in Maine.
Fort Knox – the largest historic fort and most visited historic site in the state of Maine
Fort Knox State Historic Site is the home of the Maine’s largest historic fort. Fort Knox is Maine’s most visited historic site. It has a full and rich history even though it has never actually been involved in any battles. It features amazing architecture and unparalleled master craftsmanship. Its construction took place between 1844 and 1864, however, it was never fully completed, even though over $1 million was spent. It stands alone as the New England area’s most impressive unmodified example of military architecture of that particular period. It is also Maine’s very first granite fort.
It is located along the narrows of Penobscot Bay in order to protect the area from pending British naval attacks. Its initial goal was to defend Bangor, Maine, a major source of shipbuilding lumber, from the British during the Maine-New Brunswick border dispute. This dispute was to resolve the border conflict that lingered after the Aroostook War. It stands as a pillar representing Maine’s first struggles for freedom. While never firing a shot, it garrisoned troops for both the Spanish American War as well as the Civil War.
Fort Knox - named after General Henry Knox
Fort Knox was named after Major General Henry Knox who was America’s first Secretary of War as well as the Commander of Artillery throughout the American Revolution. He lived the last years of his life in Thomaston, Maine, which is very close to the fort. It was dubbed a National Historic Landmark in 1970..
It was designed to have two batteries that would face the river. Each battery was equipped with a hot shot furnace. The purpose of this was to heat the cannon shot to the point that it would be able to set opposing ships on fire. However, as ships shifted from wood to ironclad ships, this was much less effective and often disregarded completely.
The State of Maine purchased the land and the fort in 1923 when the Federal Government labeled it excess property and put the fort, along with its 125 acre property, up for sale. The State of Maine only paid $2,121 for it. Along with being a historic landmark for the State of Maine, it also serves as an entry site for the Observation Tower of the Penobscot Narrows Bridge, which was opened in 2007.
With the excellent views of the Penobscot area as well as beautifully constructed architecture, the Fort Knox State Historic Site should be on the itinerary of anyone visiting in the area. It provides a unique experience of New England military history and military construction. Admission for Fort Knox serves as a 2-for-1, as it also gives you access to the Penobscot Narrows Observatory next to the Fort.
Penobscot Narrows Observatory – the tallest public bridge observatory in the world at 420 feet high
The Penobscot Narrows Observatory caps of one the most impressive engineering structures in the world. It was built in conjunction with the Penobscot Narrows Bridge. If you are looking to really see the Mid-coast region of Maine and even Mount Desert Island, then the Penobscot Narrows Observatory has everything that you want and more. The top of the tower is 42 stories above the Penobscot Narrows Bridge. The Observation Tower can be accessed through the Fort Knox State Historic Site. Patrons are brought to the top of the tallest public bridge observatory in the entire world.
The view is impressive to say the least. Visitors are directly above a bridge that spans 2,120 feet over a steep, plummeting gorge and is a sight within itself. The Observation Tower opened in 2007 and almost immediately became the most popular attraction in all of mid-coast Maine. This is largely because the glass tower on the top of the Penobscot Narrow Observatory gives visitors a 360 degree view of the entire region. On clear days, patrons can see more than 100 miles in any and every direction. This view spans from Camden Hills, which is where the mountains and sea collide, to Mount Katahdin, which is the highest mountain in Maine, and even the terminus of the Appalachian Trail.
The new Penobscot Narrows Bridge was built to replace the Waldo-Hancock Bridge, which was finished in 1931. It is one of only two bridges in the United States that uses a cradle system. With this system, the strands are carried within the stays from the bridge deck. This creates a continuous element and eliminates the need for anchorages into the pylons.
Each strand is composed of epoxy-coated steel and is inside a 1 inch tube. Since each strand may act independently, strands may be inspected, removed, and replaced on an individual basis instead of by groups of cables like most other bridges. The cable-stay system utilizes super-pressurized nitrogen gases that help to defend against corrosion.
The bridge is also being used to test carbon fiber strands, which are supposedly stronger and more durable than their steel counterparts. Six reference strands have been placed within the bridges cables and will be monitored to evaluate how effective they really are. Amazingly, the bridge was completely built within a 42 month period.
By stopping by the Penobscot Narrows Observatory, visitors get to see several marvels of engineering as well as breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding 100 miles, which include thick forests, mountain, ocean views, and the busy Penobscot Bay.