Maine Writers Share Their Favorite Fall Places

Popham Beach

This week, many of our Maine Crime Writers are in Albany, New York, hanging out at a big mystery conference called Bouchercon. While they’re schmoozing and drinking and swapping stories and feeling deliciously at home among other people who hear voices in their heads and imagine unspeakable (but not unwritable) acts, we’re going to repost something from last fall, in case you’re about to drive to Maine and want some special places to go.


Kate Flora here, chatting with my fellow writers about some of our favorite places. Fall in Maine is different from summer, not least because many of the summer folks have departed and the roads are emptier. There’s also a different feel in the air, a crisp, energizing infusion of cool that, coupled with our lifelong conditioning from years of school, makes us want to move, explore, start learning again. Now that the guests are gone and the sea is getting too cool to swim, I’m looking forward to revisiting some of my favorite places. First up for me? Popham Beach.

Although this beach changes season to season and year to year, sometimes broad and sometimes narrow, to me this is the most beautiful beach in Maine. A long walk in either direction yields gorgeous vistas of salt marsh, an old fort, driftwood sculptures, rocky islands dotted with small, resilient trees, sea blown mist and curling waves. Wide expanses of wave-carved and rivuletted sand present endless possibilities to the imagination. It is a breath-taking, soul-restoring, imagination-sparking place, and there’s no better time to visit than on a brisk fall day when the air feels nutritious and the world seems full of possibility.

What about the rest of you?

Kaitlyn Dunnett: Just a bit later in the season than this, one of our favorite fall drives here in the Western mountains of Maine takes us west on U. S. Rt. 2 to Mexico, then north to Oquossoc on Rt. 17 over Height of Land, then on to Rangeley.

From there we head for Stratton via Rt. 16, and then turn south toward Farmington on Rt. 27. From Farmington home to the Christmas tree farm in Wilton isn’t quite so scenic, but the rest of this route consists of winding country roads where you’re guaranteed to find leaf-peeper heaven and can usually count on sighting a few wild critters, too.

P.S. If you want to know where the color is best this fall, check out

Gerry Boyle: Every fall one of our last boat trips of the season is down the Kennebec River to Merrymeeting Bay. Autumn colors line the shore, ducks are starting to gather in the bay, Swan Island is in color. It’s a quiet time on the water, most boaters having shrink-wrapped their season. Very peaceful.

If the weather is good, we’ll head down to Bath, motor east on the Sassanoa River past Robinhood to Sheepscot Bay, then wend through Townsend Gut to Boothbay. That tourist town is quiet, too. We find a place to dock (easy this  time of year), have lunch and take a stroll, then head home. Maine on the water in the fall.


Barb Ross: I have many happy memories of Maine in fall. In the years when my mother-in-law ran the B&B we couldn’t descend on her in the summer with a group of friends without severely cutting into her income (or asking them to pay her), but in the fall…

One of my favorite places to visit is the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath. In addition to the museum, there’s a shipyard to explore, making it an indoor/outdoor experience perfect for a beautiful autumn day. And plenty of ways for the kiddies to discharge all that pent-up museum energy. Anyway, if you have the chance–take it!

Also, while you”re visiting the mid-Coast, fall is an absolutely glorious time at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.

Lea Wait: Somehow fall is never as quiet at our house as I think it will be … but the Stable Gallery, where Bob shows his work, had its last opening Friday night and will close in mid-October. That’s our “end of summer.” Before that, we’re hoping to get to the Common Ground Fair, one of the state agricultural fairs that we’ve missed the last few years. It’s September 23-25.  And then there’s the Pumpkin Fest in Damariscotta on October 6 — I don’t want to miss that! And I’m looking forward to the Bangor Book Festival October 20, when I’ll get to enjoy the foliage on my way down east. The colors have already begun to change on a few of the trees in our yard, which is both beautiful and sad. I hate to see summer go – but our Septembers and Octobers are beautiful. And when the leaves fall you can see so much more of the water … which is always wonderful. I love your idea of a last beach walk, Kate.  Will have to fit that in sometime, too! Along with making some pumpkin bread and heating up some cider. Getting to be that season, for sure.

James Hayman: As the saying goes, there’s no place like home.  My absolute favorite place between Labor Day and Thanksgiving is Peaks Island where I live.  The summer crowds have departed. The weather is deliciously crisp. The fall colors of both the trees and the marsh grasses are gorgeous. In the Fall there’s nothing I enjoy more than sitting in my living room and and watching the waves crash against the rocks and the trees change color across the sound on Long Island.  This and a daily four mile walk around the island chatting, on the way, with long time friends and not having to dodge the bikes and golf carts of summer.

Vicki Doudera:  Lea, you beat me to it — I immediately thought of the Common Ground Fair.  Last year, Ed and I rode our bikes and it was a glorious way to justify eating one of those giant Blooming Onions that I love. (Deep fried whole onions… yum.)  I also enjoy hiking at this time of year. Just about anywhere in the state is gorgeous, but I’m partial to the Camden Hills right here in my hometown. Several trails start at Camden Hills State Park, while other trailheads are scattered around Camden and Lincolnville.  The Carriage Trail from Rt. 52 which heads up Mt. Megunticook to Ocean Lookout is my favorite.  Not only does the hiker see Penobscot Bay dotted by North Haven, Vinylhaven, and various smaller islands, but there’s a wonderful vista of Lake Megunticook and the rest of the Camden Hills.

The reward at the end of Vicki's favorite hike: Ocean Lookout.

Kate: I’ve had the Common Ground Fair on my list for the past few years, and I never get there. Won’t get there this year, either, but next year, I’m making my list early and blocking out the time. And Vicki,
in my first Thea Kozak mystery, I killed someone on Mt. Battie. It’s such a gorgeous place.
Paul: To learn about my favorite fall places, you’ll need to pick up the September 2012 issue of Down East: The Magazine of Maine! (Hey, it’s my job. What am else I going to say?)
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4 Responses to Maine Writers Share Their Favorite Fall Places

  1. Great post! Makes me want to hop in the car and drive north! When I was a kid, we went to Pemaguid Point and environs every summer, and I’ve been to the Brunswick area the past two summers, but I’ve never been there in fall. One of these days!

  2. Pemaquid – silly fingers.

  3. Gram says:

    I used to visit my friend on Orr’s Island and it was beautiful in the Fall. Dee

  4. My first thought was that we were rushing the season this year. Then I stepped outside. Yup. The trees they are a’changin’ — here in the Western Maine mountains it’s been below 32 at night even when it hits the low 70s during the day. I think I’ll take my ms. out onto the porch to work while I still can!


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