Fall Foliage in Southern Maine: When and Where to Visit

The history of leaf peeping in Maine can be traced back to the early 20th century when automobiles became more accessible to the general public. 

As people gained the ability to embark on road trips, they discovered the beauty of Maine's foliage firsthand. With the establishment of national parks and the increasing popularity of outdoor activities, leaf peeping gradually gained momentum as a sought-after recreational pursuit.

While popular destinations like Acadia National Park and Baxter State Park are well-known for vibrant and colorful leaves, we’ve compiled a short list of some of the best places in Southern Maine to go leaf peeping this fall. 

Laurel Hill Cemetery 

Located in Saco, Laurel Hill Cemetery is a beautiful place to view the fall foliage. The cemetery dates back to the mid-19th century, making it not only a place of natural beauty but also a significant historical site. As summer fades away, the foliage bursts into brilliant shades of red, orange, and gold, creating a dazzling tapestry that stretches as far as the eye can see. 

The symphony of colors in this serene setting provides a captivating backdrop for capturing memorable photos or simply embracing the beauty of nature.

Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge

Located in Wells, Maine, the Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge is a stunning destination to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature during the fall season. Beyond its magnificent foliage, the Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge is home to a rich diversity of wildlife species. 

As you venture through the refuge, keep an eye out for majestic deer wandering through the woods. Watch as playful squirrels scamper about, collecting acorns for the winter ahead. If you're lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of an elusive fox or hear the melodic songs of migratory birds passing by.

Vaughan Woods Memorial State Park

Nestled in South Berwick near the New Hampshire border, Vaughan Woods State Park is a tranquil oasis filled with ancient trees, babbling brooks, and enchanting stone bridges. 

As you venture through the park's trails, you'll be enveloped by a kaleidoscope of colors displayed by the dense deciduous forest. Meander along the riverbanks, listening to the soothing sound of flowing water while capturing the essence of fall in Southern Maine.

Saco Heath Preserve

Another hidden gem for leaf peeping in Southern Maine is the Saco Heath Preserve. This preserved area has a boardwalk trail that guides visitors through the preserve, allowing them to observe the rich tapestry of colors created by the changing leaves reflected on the still waters of the bog. 

The combination of vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows juxtaposed with the lush green of the moss creates a mesmerizing sight that captures the essence of fall.

Hinckley Park

Hinckley Park is a tucked-away oasis nestled in the heart of South Portland. This lesser-known location boasts a variety of walking trails that wind through beautiful wooded areas, providing ample opportunities to appreciate the fall foliage. The park's diverse landscape includes towering oak trees, maples adorned with fiery red leaves, and birch trees showcasing striking golden hues. 

Wells Reserve

Wells Reserve at Laudholm is a hidden treasure worth exploring. This expansive nature reserve spans over 2,250 acres and encompasses diverse habitats, including forests, salt marshes, and fields. 

Within this vast expanse, numerous trails lead visitors to prime leaf peeping locations. As you wander through the woods, you'll encounter a myriad of tree species, each displaying their own unique palette of warm autumn colors. The tranquil atmosphere and scenic beauty of Wells Reserve at Laudholm make it a captivating place to revel in the splendor of fall.

To see more places to leaf peep in Southern Maine, or to view the Maine Fall Foliage Map, visit the maine.gov website at: https://www.maine.gov/dacf/mfs/projects/fall_foliage/index.shtml