Maine is one of the most heavily forested states in the nation, containing over 17 million acres of natural beauty, hikes, and magnificent summer and fall foliage scenic drives.
This scenic drive is through Maine backcountry. A rugged environment of thick forests and impressive mountain terrain.
The drive is magnificent in summer but not-to-be-missed in fall foliage season.
The route follows a 218-mile loop through central west Maine along the lower western shore of Moosehead Lake, and then runs parallel with the tree-lined banks of the Kennebec River. It’s best experienced over a few days rather than a one-day excursion trip, and lodging reservations are recommended during the popular fall foliage season.
Let’s get you started…
In the first part of the tour you’ll wind your way towards the town of Greenville on the southern tip of Moosehead Lake. Begin the tour in the town of Skowhegan by taking Route 150 to Route 151 in Athens. Follow Route 151 west to Newport where you’ll pick up Route 7 to Dover-Foxcroft.
Take Route 6 to Guilford, and then follow Route 6/15 north to Greenville.
At Greenville stop and relax for a bit. Greenville is a center for those seeking the pastimes of hunting, fishing, hiking and boating in the area. It’s also home to a number of attractions in the area.
One such attraction is the 110-foot SS Katahdin, a popular steamship that cruises on Moosehead Lake during the summer and through fall foliage. It leaves from the center of Greenville.
A 20-mile excursion east of Greenville takes you to beautiful Gulf Hagas. This is a stunning 3-mile-long gorge, with waterfalls, water chutes, deep pools, and vertical walls 300 feet tall in places. The hike is especially scenic during fall foliage. For those spreading this scenic drive over multiple days this is a must-do side trip.
The Greenville area also boasts splendid hikes along the close-by Appalachian Trail.
If you’re intending to stay overnight then Greenville offers your best opportunity for lodging.
The scenic drive continues along Route 6/15 passing Big Squaw Mountain and Ski Area on the left, and winding along the Moosehead Lake shore to the village of Rockwood. Once at Rockwood you’ll see across the water the imposing Mount Kineo with its sheer cliff face rising over 700 feet from the deepest point in Moosehead Lake.
Stay on Route 6/15 and head west to Jackman. This 30-mile portion of the scenic drive is all about Maine wilderness. Look out for opportunities to stop and admire the summer or fall foliage views in the hills and on scenic lookouts across the lakes and ponds along the road.
Just south of Jackman Route 6/15 will connect with Route 201, and you’ll follow Route 201 south towards The Forks along the National Scenic Byway.
Jackman is a canoeing center, famous for the 42-mile Moose River Bow Trip. The canoe trip takes two or more days and is a favorite of outdoor enthusiasts. It’s one of the few remaining wilderness canoe trips in the Northeast, and organized tours are run by local operators.
Continue on Route 201 south to The Forks where the Kennebec and Dead Rivers meet. The Forks is base for popular and awe-inspiring whitewater rafting trips on the two rivers.
A few miles west of The Forks is Moxie Falls, at 90-feet one of the tallest waterfalls in New England.
The scenic drive continues south on Route 201 to Bingham. This stretch of the road follows the Kennebec River through Caratunk, offering magnificent views of the river and surrounding hills, and is one of the best fall foliage sections on this tour.
Follow Route 201 back to Skowhegan to complete the tour.