In Maine, we are not only the first in the US to see the sun; our landscapes offer a breathtaking reflection of the sky’s golden, rose, crimson and amber hues.
Whether you’re up for a bracing hike at the break of dawn or just want to sleepily tumble out of the car in your pajamas, here are some of the most beautiful locations to catch the first light of day in Maine.Get in touch if you would like to create your own sunrise memories with us at Summer Feet.
1. Portland Head Light
Portland Head Light is one of the most accessible locations to watch the sunrise, and it is totally fine to rock up in slippers and a blanket. The path is also suitable for wheelchair and pushchair access.
Witness the crashing of the waves against the cliffs of Cape Elizabeth, and spot the Ram Island Ledge Light and Bug Light, whose beacons will slowly be replaced by the sun rising over the crest of the Atlantic horizon.
2. West Quoddy Head Light
The West Quoddy Head Light marks the easternmost point of the US, and the sun rises here eight minutes sooner than in Boston. It is a very special thing to watch the sun come up here on New Year’s Day, and people visit from around the world to catch the moment.
This is also an accessible option with parking near the lighthouse. You can also walk into the sunrise if you follow the Coastal Trail. Look out for humpback whales — or perhaps a family of seals checking out the rising sun with you!
3. Mount Katahdin
For sunrise in the wilderness, a scramble up Mount Katahdin is an exhilarating option. At 5,267 feet (1,605 meters) above sea level, Mount Katahdin is the highest point in Maine.
You can camp in Baxter State Park and if you choose a clear night the light of the moon might well be enough to navigate your way to the top (although we recommend trying during the daytime first).
This hike requires some preparation, as a reservation is needed to enter the park during peak season. Wrap up warm and bring insect repellent! June and July are good months to visit to avoid mosquitos, but at this time of year you will have to start walking around 1am to reach the summit in time for the sunrise.
All of this preparation is worth it, though, because the panoramic views of untouched wilderness from the top of this mountain are second to none.
4. Cadillac Mountain
At 1,530 feet (466 meters) above sea level, Cadillac Mountain is the tallest peak on Mount Desert Island in Acadia National Park. Home to moose, black bears and golden eagles, a sunrise here is an incredible way to connect with wildlife, the mists and the wind.
Such an experience is captured in this extract from Maine-based poet Elizabeth Coatsworth’s account of sitting at the top of the mountain:
The mind, stiffened with routine, stretches, floats
off with the mist, off with the quiet wind
to undefined horizons of its own.
Although you can drive to the summit, the mountain features in many of our carefully designed Maine bike tours which allow a deeper connection with the scenery.There are also three easy hikes if you equip yourself with a good headlamp: the North Ridge Trail, the South Ridge Trail and the Gorge Path Trail. A peaceful walk to Cadillac Mountain’s summit is included in our History and Harbors Maine walking tour, which also includes another perfect sunrise location: Pemaquid Point (see below).
5. Schoodic Point
The Schoodic Peninsula is well known for its awe-inspiring sunrises above the open ocean. This dramatic location is one of our favorite stops on our Solitude and Sunrises Maine bike tour, which directs you through off-the-beaten-track Maine.
On the Peninsula, the best spots to view the sunrise are Schoodic Point, Frazer Point and the aptly named Blueberry Hill. Look out for the abundance of wild blueberries during summer months, and perhaps enjoy a foraged super-food breakfast!
6. Pemaquid Point
Our final recommendation is to take a trip to one of the first lighthouses built in Maine, Pemaquid Point, first built in 1827. The sunrise is easily accessible from this point, and you can head into the dawn down one of the walking trails which offer more stunning views of the coast.
Head back in time for the opening of the lighthouse, as its museum holds a wonderful little collection of exhibits showcasing its history. Pemaquid Point is one of the oldest fishing villages in Maine, and you can grab a locally caught lobster roll for breakfast.
Sunrise colors are the effect of light scattering through more of the Earth’s atmosphere than during the day, and sea mists or clouds can sometimes make the effect even more spectacular. Maine’s changing weather and landscape conditions help to make the sunrises here all the more precious.At Summer Feet, guides all have their own personal favorites for catching the sunrise, do get in touch for more tips on planning your perfect Maine experience.