Most of us have had the thought while watching children play, “HOW do they have so much energy? If I could only bottle it up and keep some for myself!”
One of the best ways to get kids active physically (and mentally) is getting out into nature. And unlike playing the same repetitive game of “nap” or “tree” for the 100th time (you know the invented games I’m talking about), taking a hike in the Maine woods is actually fun for adults, too. There’s something about exploring nature trails together as a family, watching for wildlife along the way, and having a competition to see who will be the first to hear the waterfall or spot the ocean.
If you’re feeling like your family needs to head outdoors, here are 10 (more) hikes in Maine that are great for families–all under three miles long!
Note: Distances given are round trip. It’s recommended to get more details and consult a map before heading out on any trails.
Orono Bog Walk
Distance: 1 mile Location: Orono (just north of Bangor)
While you won’t get any panoramic mountain views around Bangor, the Orono Bog Walk offers little scientists and nature lovers a great place to explore unique plants (like the carnivorous pitcher plant!) and animals. The boardwalk that goes through the bog is both handicap accessible and stroller friendly, making it great for families with very young children.
If you’re up for more light hiking when you visit, the Bangor City Forest is adjacent to the bog walk and offers even more family-friendly trails. This is a family favorite and a great spot to get outside in the “big city” of Bangor!
Distance: 1.4 miles (network) Location: South Solon on Route 201
Robbins Hill marks the start of the Old Canada Road Scenic Byway, and the sweeping views of the Kennebec River Valley are a great way to kick off a stunning drive up Route 201. There are some short ADA-accessible trails and a spacious picnic area, making this a great place to get out of the car for a snack and some exercise.
Northern Outdoors is the perfect place to stop for lunch or an overnight stay on your western Maine adventure or scenic road trip on the Old Canada Road!
Cathedral Pines Pathways
Distance: 2 miles Location: Eustis on Route 27
Cathedral Pines is exactly what the name implies–a forest of towering red pines that feel at once spacious and secluded. This short trail offers a bog boardwalk as well as scenic views of the Bigelow Mountains.
There’s a campground by the same name across the road, where you’ll find a scenic turnout and picnic area overlooking Flagstaff Lake. If time allows, consider renting a canoe and telling your kids the tale of the town that was buried underneath the lake–something sure to make kids wonder if they’ll spot an old house under there!
This lovely new trail in Kingfield, Maine was built by a local who wanted to maintain the health of the forest. He installed bridges, steps, and even some fun (perhaps enchanting) signs along the way. It ends with a beautiful waterfall that is known by two names: Reed Brook Falls and Jericho Falls. A great and rewarding hike for kids!
Distance: 1.4 miles Location: Southwest Harbor in Acadia National Park
Besides having a name that makes you wonder whether you’re stepping into the Narnia wardrobe (and maybe you agree that Maine is every bit as magical of a place), the Wonderland Trail in Acadia National Park is a great little hike on the quieter side of Mount Desert Island. Once you reach the rocky shore, you and your kids can look for aquatic life in tide pools, or have a picnic on the granite slabs.
Bar Island is a “tidal island,” meaning it’s only an island at high tide–a walkable land bridge appears when the tide goes out. The island is accessible via this sand bar for only three hours: 1.5 hours before and after the low tide time. There’s a short trail once you reach the uninhabited island that leads to an elevated view of Bar Harbor. Of course, it’s vital to time your trip carefully with this short hike!
Bonus: Head to Deer Isle for a day to explore the many preserves on the island–including another island that’s only accessible at low tide, Barred Island Preserve, which has nature trails and more scenic views.
Distance: 1.4 miles Location: Near Millinocket in Baxter State Park
The loop around Daicey Pond in Baxter State Park is a great hike for the whole family. You’ll walk through the woods and along the pond’s shore during this short loop hike. Keep the kids entertained by looking at the variety of habitats and plants–and keeping an eye out for wildlife! Stop by the cabins for a great view of Katahdin from the dock.
This very short hike just down the road from us in Bingham is a favorite for families since it’s a quick walk into the rewarding views of these beautifully scenic falls. If you’re brave (or it’s super hot), you and your kids can cool off in the pools, too.
Note that these falls are located on private property, and the public is currently welcome. As with any trail, be respectful and make sure to stay on the trail.
Distance: 4.4 miles (network–several of the individual trails are an easy 0.5 miles long) Location: Freeport
Not far from the giant-sized L.L. Bean boot and busy shopping streets of Freeport is Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, a great spot for exploring trails that weave through marshes, fields, forests, and rocky ocean shores with the family. Some trails are wheelchair and stroller accessible, and they feature interpretive signs to learn about the ecosystems and wildlife you may spot.
No list of kid-friendly hikes in Maine is complete without mention of Moxie Falls. We included it in our other Maine hikes for kids post because, well, it’s a classic! Whether you’re staying at Northern Outdoors for a weekend of outdoor adventure, or you’re day tripping along the Old Canada Road Scenic Byway, Moxie Falls is a memorable stop.
Catch gorgeous foliage in the fall, enjoy the stillness of nature in the winter months, watch the rushing waters during the spring runoff, and cool off with a swim on a hot summer day.
For more info: Head here for details on the trail to Moxie.
Which of these short Maine hikes and nature trails for kids have you explored? This list certainly isn’t exhaustive–what ones would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!