The Splendor of Autumn
Old Canada Road Foliage Driving Loops
These loops are some of the favorite ways to take an Old Canada Road Foliage Drive.
Distance: 60 miles
Time: 1 h 15 min
- Start in Skowhegan and take ME-150 N to Athens.
- Turn onto ME-151 in Athens and proceed to Mayfield Corner.
- Turn left onto ME-16 W to Bingham.
- At the junction of ME-16 and US-201, proceed south along US-201. You’re now on the Old Canada Road Scenic Byway
- Continue for about 6 miles and stop at Robbins Hill Scenic Overlook where there are unsurpassed views of the valley and the western mountains.
- Return to US-201 S to Skowhegan.
Distance: 82 miles
Time: 2 h 30 min
- Start in Bingham and proceed north on US-201 along the Old Canada Road Scenic Byway through Moscow, home of Wyman Dam.
- Drive along Wyman Lake which is flanked by S-turns and many riverside turnouts. One marks the Col. Benedict Arnold river crossing site.
- Continue north through Caratunk (maybe pay a short visit to Pleasant Pond) and then on to The Forks.
- Where the Dead and Kennebec Rivers converge, turn right onto Lake Moxie Road. Drive about 2 miles to the Moxie Falls Scenic Area parking lot,
- It’s an easy 1-mile walk to Maine’s highest waterfall. With a 92-foot vertical drop, the 20-minute walk through the fall foliage to view the falls is well worth it.
- Return to the Byway on US-201where there are restroom facilities and picnic tables.
- Proceed north to Parlin Pond. There are great opportunities for moose sightings along this route and the road is well-maintained. At Parlin, there are nice stone seats and tables to have a picnic lunch. There is no restroom.
- Stay overnight somewhere between The Forks and Jackman and include Loop 2A or drive back to Bingham (82 mi loop) or south to Skowhegan (125 mi loop).
Distance: 109 mi
Time: 2 h 10 min
- From Parlin Pond, proceed north to Attean Scenic Overlook and Rest Area and then on to Jackman.
- In Jackman take ME-15 S/ME-6 E to Rockwood with views of Mt Kineo.
- From Rockwood continue to West and East Outlets-the head of the Kennebec River flowing from Moosehead Lake, and on to Greenville (20mi).
- From Greenville Center continue on ME-15 S through the villages of Monson and Abbott.
- Take a right in Abbott onto ME-16 W and drive past Kingsbury Pond and a rest area, and on into Bingham to complete the loop.
Distance: 235 mi
Time: 5 h
- Start in Skowhegan and follow US-201N about 10 miles to Robbins Hill, the gateway to the Old Canada Road National Scenic Byway. Continue on to Jackman and the Canadian Border. Have the proper credentials to cross the border.
- after crossing the border, follow Rte du Président-Kennedy/QC-173 to Armstrong.
- Head south toward Rte de Saint-Théophile/QC-269 N (signs for Saint-Théophile/Saint Gédéon) where you will take a right. Drive about 10 miles and take a left onto QC-204 O. Drive for about 30 miles to Lac Mégantic.
- From Lac Mégantic follow QC-161 S to the US border.
- Enter the US at Coburn Gore in Maine and follow ME-27 S to Kingfield (50 miles) passing through Eustis and Carrabassett Valley.
- From Kingfield turn left at the bridge and follow ME-16 E to North Anson and the junction of US-201A.
- Turn right on US-201A, cross the bridge over the Carrabassett River, and continue on to Madison.
- Stay on US-201A to Norridgewock.
- At the junction of US-201A and US-2, head east on US-201A S /Main St/US-2 E and turn left back to Skowhegan to complete the loop.
Along Loop 3, there are numerous places to stop for lodging, local dining, and to investigate the rich Franco-American history that is tied to the Old Canada Road. Don’t miss the Chaudiére River, the one that Col. Benedict Arnold eventually found on his way to Québec City.
Grab a sweater!
Spread a blanket beside a wooded stream!
As the world melts away, watch the sun’s rays and the brilliant red, orange, and yellow leaves dance in the breeze and waltz down to the water to float away.
There is nothing so uplifting as experiencing the brilliance of nature’s colors, the sound of crunching leaves beneath your feet, and the water running over the rocks.
The peak foliage season varies year to year depending on weather and precipitation. Generally the latter part of September through the first two weeks of October is a great time to visit. The Maine Forest Service publishes viewing information and updated foliage maps throughout the season. Please visit www.maine.gov/doc/foliage
Uncrowded and Little Known
In addition to the Old Canada Road Foliage drives, where else can I see the lovely colors? Besides the US-201 turnouts, well-marked scenic overlooks, and rest areas, there are several easily accessible out-of-the-way spots to take photos and stretch your legs a bit.
The Kennebec River in Solon & Embden
- Turn onto US-201A S at the blinking light on Main St in Solon. Drive 0.9 miles to the bridge. Turn right onto ME-16 and drive a short distance until you come to a small bridge where you can see the trail cutting across the road (it’s an old railroad bed) and there’s limited space to pull off the road and park. This is an access point for the Kennebec Valley Trail. Enjoy a short, easy walk northward across trestle bridges and along the river. The trail eventually crosses US-201 in Bingham.
Mayfield Corner Wind Towers on ME-16 east of Bingham
- Take Me-16 E from Bingham. Drive 10 miles to Mayfield Corner where you’ll find ME-151 S. At this point you’ll see wind turbines. As you drive back to Bingham, you’ll have a view of the western mountains with several places where you can pull off the road.
Pleasant Pond in Caratunk
- From US-201, drive into the village of Caratunk. Take the Pleasant Pond Road across the street from the village post office. You’ll come to the spot where the road forks to the North Shore Rd and the West Shore Rd. On the side of the road on West Shore Rd is a public boat landing. Park on the side of the road and walk down to the landing. Pleasant Pond Mountain in the distance is spectacular for its color.
Caratunk & The Forks Town Line
- On the west side of US 201 where the town line is noted, there’s a trailhead and parking overlooking the river. There are picnic tables here, but no restroom. Walk a little way up the stone-covered trail to the left. You’ll come to an old cemetery and a place where you can walk down to the river.
- On US-201 between Northern Outdoors and Three Rivers Whitewater in The Forks. One can walk between these two places on a stone-covered trail. The easiest place to park is on the west side of the road just north of Northern Outdoors. There’s a picnic table overlooking the ponds where the bittersweet is lovely in the fall.