Backpacking in Maine is epic. The state offers diverse and dramatic backpacking opportunities, from the epic AT to coastal trails to remote north woods hikes, with plenty of natural splendor.
This post is all about backpacking in Maine from an ultralight perspective. We’ll give you some useful tips to get ready for your upcoming outdoor adventure.
We’ll highlight the TOP 5 trails in Maine, split into two groups: shorter day hikes under 25 miles and longer multi-day trips with places to restock water every few days.
Check out these fantastic day hikes in Maine where using lightweight gear will truly make your adventure better:
Explore these scenic trails in Maine, with plenty of water resupply points:
Maine’s weather for backpacking can vary based on the season and region. Here’s a general overview:
Before making your gear selection and heading to the trailhead, take a look at the weather statistics for Maine (Farmington):
Campfires are permitted while backpacking in the outdoors and forests of Maine, but there are important regulations to follow. You must obtain a fire permit from the Maine Forest Service prior to having a campfire as you enjoy the natural surroundings. Permits are free and can be acquired online or from local fire warden offices. There are also rules about where and how you can build a fire – it must be in a cleared area away from overhanging branches and logs/rocks should surround the fire pit. Fires must be completely extinguished before leaving the area.
For the most part, permits are not required for backpacking and wilderness exploration in Maine, except for certain restricted areas like Baxter State Park or the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. However, groups over 15 people need a permit for Maine’s public reserved lands, and open fires require a statewide fire permit
The 281 miles of the Appalachian Trail in Maine takes most hikers 7-10 days to complete going northbound or 5-7 days going southbound. The rugged, mountainous terrain with steep climbs, tricky footing, and over 10 peaks makes for slower progress compared to other sections of the AT. The weather in Maine can also impact hiking pace if conditions become rainy, cold or wintery at higher elevations. On average, hikers cover 12-15 miles per day in Maine, with faster hikers reaching over 20 miles on some days. But the challenging trails usually mean hiking at a slower speed than normal. It’s wise to allot extra time when planning an AT hike in Maine.
When backpacking in Maine, you may encounter wildlife like moose, deer, foxes, and black bears. Avoid surprising animals and give them space to move away. Make noise on the trail so they know you’re coming. Be extra alert at dawn and dusk when some animals are most active. Keep food stored properly so it doesn’t attract bears. If you meet a black bear, back away slowly and do not run. Talk calmly so the bear knows you are human, not prey. Carry bear spray just in case, but try to give bears a chance to retreat first before using it.
Experience the adventure of Maine’s magnificent wilderness immersed in nature, but take key precautions. Before following winding trails through dense forests, acquire a detailed map and inform companions of your route. Pack brightly colored clothing, first-aid supplies, flashlights, whistles, and bear-proof food canisters. Watch your step hiking over rocky, uneven terrain and through slippery stream crossings. Make noise to avoid surprising moose, black bears or other wildlife. Stay hydrated and focused so you can revel in Maine’s natural beauty while keeping safety a priority. With adequate provisions and preventative measures, you can fully embrace the call of the wild when backpacking across Maine. Stay alert, be prepared for the unexpected, and remember prudent planning prevents poor performance on a backpacking trip in Maine’s majestic natural settings.