Say Goodbye To Tourist Traffic & Hello To The Real Maine On These 7 Scenic Back Road Drives

There are some incredible scenic drives and road trips that can be taken across the state of Maine.

And while a handful of scenic byways and well-worn tourist routes get most of the hype, there are some less-well-known drives out there that are just as incredible, if not more.

Credit: Wolfe’s Neck Center

In this guide we’ll show you seven of the best back roads across the state, that even the locals never get tired of driving.

These roads are where the traffic thins out and you can discover what many in the state refer to as the “real Maine”.

Burnett Road, Freeport

A few miles from downtown Freeport’s bustling L.L. Bean scene lies Burnett Road, a peaceful dirt track near the Little River, offering a tranquil contrast with oceanfront vibes. 

Veering left from Wolfe’s Neck Road, the route passes through a cow pasture and offers views of Casco Bay before crossing a bridge popular with anglers and adventurous kids. 

Credit: Instagram: libmacbis

The journey continues through the 640-acre Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture and the Environment, encompassing a historic saltwater farm. 

This area, with its livestock barns, gardens, and a 3½-mile trail network, welcomes visitors for free from dawn to dusk. 

Here, one can interact with farm animals and observe diverse birdlife along the trails. The center’s coastal campground provides opportunities for swimming, paddling, and bike rentals, making Burnett Road enjoyable for biking. 

Beyond the campground, the road transitions from pastoral landscapes to the paved Lower Flying Point Road, leading into a sudden residential area, marking the end of this idyllic escape.

Quill Hill Scenic Byway

Quill Hill offers a breathtaking view that competes for the title of “the best view in the state,” thanks to Adrian Brochu’s vision. 

Brochu, who cherished both motorcycle rides and the serene beauty of Maine, crafted a well-maintained dirt road that leads to Quill Hill’s summit. 

Credit: Instagram: jwolfpack2

Brochu believed this dirt road led to the best view in all of Maine, an opinion that is shared by many who have traversed it in their cars, UTVs, ATVs or on the backs of their motorcycles.

Open to the public, this destination features picnic spots, a wood-fired barbecue, and stunning panoramas of forests, lakes, and mountains. 

After Brochu’s passing, his family and a conservation easement ensure the road and its surroundings remain a cherished part of Maine’s landscape, maintained by donations from visitors.

Chauncey Creek Road to Seapoint Road, Kittery

The journey to Seapoint Beach in Kittery is as delightful as the destination itself, particularly the drive along Chauncey Creek Road, which elegantly curves through a canopy of tall, sun-dappled trees. 

This short stretch offers varied experiences: it buzzes around the Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier, a beloved 75-year-old seafood spot known for its riverside dining. 

Credit: Instagram: moosepak

The road then transitions through a residential area, leading to a serene passage through the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. 

Here, the Cutts Island Trail offers a peaceful 1.8-mile walk through the woods and salt marshes. The route concludes at Seapoint Beach, a cherished local retreat ideal for quiet beach days and campfires (with a permit). 

While there are a few parking spots for non-residents, the drive itself, especially during the golden hour with the ocean’s fragrance and nature’s chorus filling the air, can be just as rewarding, making the return trip home equally enchanting.

Route 24 Through Harpswell Islands, Harpswell

Traveling Route 24 through the Harpswell Islands offers an enchanting journey across Sebascodegan, Orr’s, and Bailey Islands, each linked by this scenic route adorned with straits, ponds, and coves. 

The drive culminates spectacularly on Bailey Island, where the Cribstone Bridge, a 1928 architectural marvel with a granite crib base allowing tidal flow, welcomes visitors. 

Credit: Instagram: flexmedic

The island’s vistas are breathtaking at every turn, notably near the Johnson Field Preserve at Mackerel Cove, bustling with lobster boats, at mile 1.5. The route is dotted with charming cedar-shingle cottages and leads to the Giant’s Stairs Trail at mile 1.8. 

This trail offers a rugged Maine coastline experience with expansive views of Casco Bay. The journey ends at the island’s southern tip, featuring a pebbled beach perfect for picnics. 

For a memorable meal, Cook’s Lobster & Ale House at 68 Garrison Cove Road, serving since 1955, offers delicious lobster rolls with a view of the harbor.

Watson Pond Road, Rome

Nestled on the eastern fringe of the Kennebec Highlands, Watson Pond Road in Rome, Maine, is a tranquil path enveloped by dense woods and lined with ancient stone wall ruins. 

This brief road boasts an abundance of exploration opportunities despite its short length. The journey south unveils the French Mountain Trail, offering a short loop that rewards hikers with views over Long Pond and Great Pond, central to the Belgrade Lakes, just a short distance in. 

Credit: Karyn MacGrath

Further along, the Sanders Hill Trail weaves through sugar maples and wetlands, passing the notable Snapper Rock, over a nearly three-mile circuit. 

By mile 3.4, a detour leads to the Blueberry Hill Scenic Area, where visitors can enjoy a picnic overlooking the Belgrade Lakes isthmus and pick wild blueberries in late summer. 

Close by, at mile 3.8, begins the Monataka mountain biking trail, alongside a network of hiking paths that delve into the Kennebec Highlands, guiding adventurers to the panoramic views from 1,133-foot Round Top Mountain.

Route 26 Through Grafton Notch State Park, Newry

Route 26 carves through Grafton Notch State Park in Newry, starting just north of Sunday River Resort. 

This picturesque path, shaped by ancient glaciers and rivers, runs beside the Bear River for a significant stretch, leading towards New Hampshire’s border. 

Credit: Grafton Notch

The journey showcases New England’s rugged beauty, punctuated by stops at natural attractions like Screw Auger Falls and Mother Walker Falls, accessible via short trails off the main road.

As travelers navigate this scenic two-lane route, they encounter remnants of early settler life, including old farmhouses’ foundations and stone walls. 

These historical markers lie within a landscape that has transformed into either state-protected parklands or privately-owned forests, offering a glimpse into the area’s past and present intertwining of natural beauty and human endeavor.

Route 52 (From Camden To Lincolnville), Camden

Route 52 from Camden to Lincolnville offers a breathtaking detour from the iconic mid coast stretch of Route 1. 

Starting with a left turn at the Camden Public Library, the road, known as Mountain Street within town limits, showcases residential views but soon ventures north, skirting Camden Hills. 

Credit: Abbington’s Seaview Motel & Cottages

Here, it ascends dramatically between two large cliffs, a passage forged in the 19th century by an enterprising farmer named Barrett as an alternative to a cramped carriage road along Mount Megunticook, charging a small toll for its use. 

Descending the other side, you reach Megunticook Lake, with the trailhead to Maiden Cliff on the right and Barrett’s Cove beach and boat launch on the left. 

The journey continues with the steep Camden Hills on one side and the lake closely paralleling the other, ideal for a drive with windows down and music up. 

At dusk, the setting sun casts a magical light over the lake, illuminating the Fang Islands and Fernald’s Neck peninsula in a display of natural splendor.