Fall Foliage on the Coast of Maine
- Experience Coastal Maine at the height of fall foliage
- Savor the autumn bounty of local food, including blueberries, apples, and seafood
- Enjoy hiking, kayaking, a lobster boat trip, and gallery and museum visits
- All meals, including a lobster dinner
- Comfortable lodging at an 1830 country inn with three-course breakfasts
- Presentations on geology and marine life by local naturalists
|Dates||Oct 15–22, 2014|
Blue Hill Peninsula, just west of its more famous neighbor, Acadia National Park, has a high concentration of artists, musicians, and environmentally oriented institutes. It is home to a lively performing arts and gallery scene. The peninsula comprises six small villages, each linked -- one to the other by narrow winding country roads that cross small bridges over narrow rivers along the way. The farther south you drive down the peninsula, the more you feel removed from city life and the slower the pace of life becomes. Along the rocky shoreline, fishing and lobstering are the main occupations, and lobster boats litter the water.
This outing will feature a wide variety of outdoor activities. We’ll hike on the forested trails of the iconic Blue Hill Mountain and along the ocean shore. We’ll bird with a local birding guide, visit an apple orchard at cider pressing time, kayak to an island preserve, and take a lobster boat trip. We’ll also enjoy indoor time as we visit the 1820 home, now a museum, of Blue Hill’s first clergyman/artist and listen to presentations by local experts on current environmental issues of the area.
You will have a “free choice day” in the middle of the trip, where you may select from a wide variety of activities available on the peninsula. The trip leader will supply additional information on activities. The cost of these activities is not included in the trip price. Of course, trip members may choose to simply relax and enjoy the peaceful ambience of the peninsula.
The following itinerary is subject to change based on weather conditions or other factors.
Day 1: We meet at our lodging in Blue Hill at 2 p.m. After an orientation session, we take a short hike nearby, followed by our welcome dinner at one of Blue Hill’s most popular restaurants.
Day 2: Today we spend the morning on a hike up Blue Hill Mountain, a round trip of two miles. Blue Hill Mountain provides us with great views of Blue Hill Bay, Camden Hills, and Mount Desert Island from its 943-foot summit. After lunch we’ll tour an apple orchard and sample freshly pressed cider. Tonight a local naturalist will introduce us to the evolution of the area’s natural history through her slide show.
Day 3: From the town of Stonington, we spend the morning aboard a lobster boat on a sightseeing and natural history cruise, touring the Merchant Row islands. During our boat tour, we’ll hear about the native North Americans who lived there, the European settlements of the area, the history of the local economy, and information about local geology and marine biology. We’ll also watch a demonstration of how a lobster trap is pulled in. In the afternoon we hike along the old granite quarry in Stonington and watch the fishermen bring in their catch on the town pier.
Day 4: Trip participants’ “Free Choice Day!” Today you choose what you would like to do on the Blue Hill Peninsula. You may want to enjoy relaxing in front of our inn’s fireplace, hike, or visit the galleries, museums, and shops in town; or you may want to visit the 9th Annual Fall Festival in Blue Hill, go bicycling, kayaking, canoeing, or wine tasting. More information will be provided, including prices and bookings deadlines. These activities are not covered in the trip price, but the leader will be happy to assist you with bookings. Tonight a marine biologist will share with us a slide show and talk about the current marine issues facing Down East Maine.
Day 5: A special treat! This morning we go for a bird walk with a local birding guide. The Blue Hill Peninsula sits at the intersection of Northern Boreal Forest bird species and Southern Appalachian species, resulting in good birding for us. In the afternoon we visit the Jonathan Fisher house, now a museum that illustrates the early 19th-century lifestyle of the first Blue Hill settlers.
Day 6: We spend the morning kayaking off the village of Castine. We’ll meander through classic wooden sailboats moored in the harbor and paddle among the coastal islands of Castine Bay, arriving at an island nature preserve. Later we visit the scenic village of Castine. Situated on a cape surrounded by water on three sides, the town is home to Fort George State Park, site of a 1779 British fortification. We’ll visit this fort as well as some other historical sites.
Day 7: This morning we visit a local organic farm and sample their produce. In the afternoon we hike on a two-mile trail through a diverse forest with views of the Bagaduce River in a neighboring village. Tonight is our farewell dinner -- lobster with all the fixings! There will be just-caught fish for non-lobster lovers.
Day 8: Our trip ends after breakfast.
The closest airport to the Blue Hill Peninsula is Bangor International Airport (BGR), which is served by Delta, US Airways, and Allegiant Airlines. From there, the driving time to Blue Hill is a little over one hour. Alternatively you can fly into the Portland International Jetport (PWM), which is served by many more airlines. It takes three hours to drive to Blue Hill from Portland by Interstate 95 or three and one-half hours by the more scenic Route 1. You can rent a car at either airport or you can drive your own car. We encourage but cannot officially set up carpooling among trip members.
Accommodations and Food
We will be staying at an historic inn in the lovely town of Blue Hill on the Blue Hill Peninsula. A Federal period building, it has eleven guest rooms, a sun-filled dining room, and two comfortable parlors with wood fireplaces. It retains many of its original features such as clapboards, nine over six windows, wide pumpkin pine floor boards, and six fireplaces. The inn’s gardens have comfortable chairs and a hammock for relaxing. The library has an extensive collection of books, many by Maine authors. Multi-course breakfasts, afternoon beverages and pastries, and evening hors d’oeuvres are all offered daily.
Lunches will be picnic-style or at restaurants. Dinners will be taken at the area’s great restaurants. Every effort will be made to accommodate personal needs and preferences in regard to food. Vegetarians, meat eaters, those who are gluten and lactose intolerant, etc. will be accommodated as much as possible.
The hikes on this outing are all easy to moderate in difficulty. While the mountains in Maine are small compared to those in the West, trails can be steep. Our average hike will be up to four miles with less than 900 feet in elevation gain. Of course, if more hiking is desired, there are plenty of opportunities. This trip is suitable for folks who enjoy wildlife watching, hiking, and cultural activities.
Equipment and Clothing
A packing list will be sent to trip participants in advance of the outing. Make sure you bring raingear, since rain is always a possibility. Daytime temperatures in October can range from the 40s at night to the 50-60s during the day. Plan to dress in layers!
Please bring a small backpack for our hiking excursions that can hold your lunch and a quart-sized water bottle as well as extra clothes and raingear.
- Berrill, Michael and Deborah, A Sierra Club Naturalist’s Guide: The North Atlantic Coast Cape Cod to Newfoundland, Sierra Club Books.
- Corson, T., The Secret Life of Lobsters, Harper Collins, 2004.
- Kendall, D. L., Glaciers and Granite: A Guide to Maine’s Landscape and Geology, North Country Press, 1993.
- Pierson, Pierson, and Vickery, A Birder’s Guide to Maine, Down East Books, 1996.
- Nangle, Hillary, Moon Handbooks: Coastal Maine, Avalon Travel, 2013.
- Blue Hill Heritage Trust: www.bluehillheritagetrust,org
- Marine Environmental Resource Institute: www.meriresearch.org
- Maine Coast Heritage Trust: www.mcht.org
One of the largest threats to the Blue Hill Peninsula is unchecked development along the coast and inland. There are no zoning laws on the peninsula. Fortunately, there are several local NGO land trusts that provide educational outreach to the public and serve as watch dogs for the community. There has been significant success in protecting agricultural land in the area through “Farmland Forever,” a program through the Blue Hill Heritage Trust. They currently protect over 6,200 acres by owning land or by holding conservation easements on privately owned land. As a result, young couples can now afford to farm the land.
The Sierra Club is an environmentally focused entity. We are concerned about conservation and sustainability of resources, both locally and globally. Our work is accomplished by volunteers and aided by a salaried staff, encouraging grassroots involvement. Our outings seek to empower participants toward understanding parallel environmental concerns at home and abroad.
Since any traveling leaves a carbon footprint, Sierra Club offers information about carbon offsets at www.sierraclub.org/outings