While Maine's capital city of Augusta has much to offer culture and history enthusiasts, it’s also an excellent jumping-off point for those who dream of spending their weekends immersed in The Great Outdoors, chasing scenic views.
To the west, Augusta is flanked by a loop of several scenic waterfalls (eight, to be exact!). To its east, historic lighthouses dot the midcoast, standing as modern beacons encouraging adventurous weekenders to explore the Pine Tree State.
Having your cake and eating it, too — exploring waterfalls and some of the best lighthouses in Maine — is entirely possible, even in just a weekend. Read on to find out exactly how we'd do it.
Snow Falls Gorge
Start your waterfall-themed Maine road trip with a visit to Snow Falls Gorge. Located about 50 miles west of Augusta near West Paris, Snow Falls comprises four distinct cascades. The Little Androscoggin River winds through this narrow gorge, forming the falls amid 30-foot-tall walls.
The small surrounding park serves as a rest area, with picnic tables, walking trails, a pit toilet, and plenty of parking. Note that swimming is not allowed at Snow Falls.
Dunn Falls is easily one of the best waterfall hikes in Maine. Situated about 75 miles northwest of Augusta and just under one hour from Snow Falls, this impressive cascade has a drop of over 80 feet. Better yet, it flows in a canyon with 150-foot cliff walls on either side.
The two-mile loop hike from the upper to lower falls is spectacular. Hikers will travel a stretch of the famed Appalachian Trail, encounter a dozen or so smaller seasonal waterfalls, and even get to do some rock-hopping.
Coos Canyon is a fantastic destination for your next western Maine road trip. Located approximately 65 miles northwest of Augusta and just 35 minutes from Dunn Falls, Coos Canyon is extremely accessible, with the falls visible from the road.
Visitors can enjoy a refreshing dip in the canyon’s cool, clear waters when it's warm out. The rocks differ around the swimming hole, with some smooth enough to create natural water slides and others jagged and tall, ideal dive platforms. Pack a picnic and end your waterfall road trip with a snack in one of Maine's most scenic swimming holes!
Transitioning to a totally different type of water experience, next head to Owls Head, one of the best lighthouses in Maine. About 50 miles southeast of Augusta on the midcoast, this lighthouse was built in 1825 and then rebuilt in the 1850s.
The keeper’s house, down a steep flight of stairs, was also erected in the 1850s and is the setting for much folklore about the lighthouse. Today, the house serves as the Interpretive Center for the American Lighthouse Foundation. Popular climbing tours of the lighthouse are offered between Memorial Day and Columbus Day.
56 miles southeast of Augusta and 35 minutes from Owls Head, sits another famous lighthouse in Maine. Marshall Point is best known as the lighthouse Forrest Gump ended his cross-country run in the iconic 1994 film. The keeper’s house is now a museum open during the summer, where visitors can learn about the history of the lighthouse and see behind-the-scenes details about the movie.
Make a weekend of your visit to the coast and stay at the nearby Craignair Inn. Just 20 minutes from Marshall Point, the inn offers an unbeatable location for exploring the best lighthouses in Maine and it's pet-friendly!
Pemaquid Point is a strong contender for the most famous lighthouse in Maine. Open daily from mid-May to late October, the lighthouse is about 47 miles south-southeast of Augusta and just over an hour from Marshall Point and the Craignair Inn.
This beacon sits on the Pemaquid Peninsula and is surrounded by a park that includes an art gallery, a learning center, a museum, and several picnic tables. Before heading out on this Maine day trip, call ahead to see if the lighthouse is open for climbing.
Experience Maine's Midcoast Magic
Whether you’re a Vacationland local or just starting to think about your next road trip to Maine, there are many stunning attractions in the Midcoast region. Enjoy the alfresco splendor of the state’s waterfalls or take a step back in time by exploring the best lighthouses in Maine.
Whatever you choose to see and do, book a stay at the Craignair Inn. It's the ideal home base for your Midcoast adventure!