Last revised: December 30, 2023
By: Adam Burns
The Downeast Scenic Railroad offers the only dedicated fall foliage trains in Maine. However, both the Maine Narrow-Gauge Railroad & Museum, in Portland, and the Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway Museum in Alna continue to host excursions for the public through the changing colors and are worth checking out!
Maine is known for its stunning natural beauty, and one of the most magical times to experience it is during the fall season. If you are interested in viewing the state's fall colors in ways other than by train, here are some of the best locations.
Acadia National Park
Located on the coast of Maine, Acadia National Park is one of the most popular destinations in the state for fall foliage viewing. The park's winding roads offer stunning views of the changing leaves against the backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean.
Baxter State Park
Baxter State Park is a remote wilderness area that offers some of the most spectacular views of fall foliage in Maine. Located in the northern part of the state, the park is home to Mount Katahdin, the highest peak in Maine, and offers miles of hiking trails that wind through forests ablaze with fall colors.
Rangeley Lakes Region
The Rangeley Lakes Region in western Maine is a popular destination for leaf peepers. With its rugged mountains, pristine lakes, and quaint small towns, this area offers some of the most breathtaking views of fall foliage in the state.
Bethel is a charming New England village located in western Maine, known for its stunning fall foliage. Visitors can take a scenic drive along the Sunday River, hike one of the many nearby mountains, or simply stroll through the town and enjoy the stunning autumn scenery.
Moosehead Lake, located in northern Maine, is the state's largest lake and offers some of the best views of fall foliage in the region. Visitors can take a scenic drive around the lake, go hiking in the nearby mountains, or simply relax and enjoy the breathtaking scenery.
Camden Hills State Park
Camden Hills State Park, located on the coast of Maine, offers stunning views of the fall colors against the backdrop of the ocean. Visitors can hike the park's many trails, including Mount Battie, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
Kennebunkport is a picturesque seaside town located in southern Maine that is known for its stunning fall foliage. Visitors can take a scenic drive along the coast, stroll through the town's many shops and galleries, or simply enjoy the breathtaking views from one of the town's many parks and beaches.
In conclusion, Maine offers some of the most breathtaking fall foliage views in the country, and these locations are just a few of the best places to experience the magic of the season. Whether you're looking for a scenic drive, a hike through the woods, or a relaxing seaside getaway, Maine has something for everyone.
(Ellsworth): The Downeast Scenic Railroad is owned by the Downeast Rail Heritage Trust, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization formed in 2005. The attraction officially launched in July, 2010.
The railroad is a beloved attraction that offers visitors a chance to experience the beauty of the region while riding aboard a historic train. It is a living testament to the state's rich railroad history, which dates back to the mid-1800s, and has become a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.
The Downeast Scenic operates on the former Calais Branch of the Maine Central Railroad, which was originally built in 1886 to transport goods and people between Calais and Princeton. Today, visitors can hop aboard a vintage train and travel along a 10-mile stretch of track, taking in stunning views of the forests, streams, and rivers that make up Maine's unique landscape.
The railroad offers a variety of excursions, ranging from short trips to full-day experiences. The most popular trip is the two-hour round trip from the village of Ellsworth to the quaint town of Washington Junction. Along the way, visitors will see beautiful views of the Union River, as well as forests and wetlands teeming with wildlife.
In late September each year the railroad hosts "Autumn Gold Train Ride" event, allowing guests to view the region's fall colors by train. The ride lasts nearly 2 hours and is available for all ages!
(Portland): Based in Portland this organization tells the history of Maine's "Two Footers" and operates a short, 1.5 mile segment of two-foot gauge railroad along the Casco Bay waterfront.
They have three small tank engines preserved, one of which is operational; Bridgton & Saco River 2-4-4T #7 built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1913.
Each October they host the Pumpkin Train where the kids can enjoy a train ride and pick out a pumpkin while partaking in refreshments consisting of hot cider and cookies.
For reasons not entirely known to this day, 2-foot gauge railroads were prolific throughout the Pine Tree State. They primarily served the logging industry although there were several common-carrier lines as well including the largest, the Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railroad, which was formed in 1908 through the merger of seven smaller systems.
(Alna): The Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway Museum is a unique and fascinating attraction that transports visitors back in time to the golden age of railroads. The museum is dedicated to preserving the history of the 2-foot, narrow-gauge railway that once ran through the state.
The Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway was originally constructed in the late 1800s as a means of transporting goods and people between the coastal town of Wiscasset and the inland city of Waterville. The railway was later extended to reach the small town of Farmington, and played an important role in the development of the region for many years.
Today, the Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway Museum operates just over 3 miles of the original WW&F south of Alna.
One of the highlights of the museum is the fully restored steam locomotive, Portland Company #9, which was originally built in 1891. Visitors can climb aboard the locomotive and take a ride through the museum's grounds, experiencing the thrill of steam-powered transportation firsthand. The museum remains open through the fall season, allowing guests the chance to see the region's fall colors.