Camden Hills State Park in Camden, Maine might be called the “perfect” state park. It’s close enough to creature comforts associated with a quaint coastal Maine town, while offering a chance to also get away and feel like you are in a remote setting. Here you’ll find plenty of hiking (which will keep both experts and beginners happy for the better part of a day), great camping and the ability to have a home base for local exploring that is simply wonderful. There are great views of the town of Camden and the Penobscot Bay, as well!
Located in Camden, ME, this area is known for tourism. Chapters of books have been written about the town itself, which is worth visiting and idyllic. This article will focus mainly on the state park specifically, as there is plenty to know about this Camden Hills State Park before coming.
Our hope is that our guide on What to See and Do in Camden Hills State Park gives you a good head start on your visit, as well as help you consider what you need to do ahead of your trip.
Ahead of your trip, if you are visiting Maine you may want to check out our downloadable itinerary for Acadia National Park. We include all you need to know about visiting the park, how to get around, what to do ahead of your visit and what to do while you are there!
CAMDEN HILLS STATE PARK HISTORY
Like many public lands in the United States, the origins of Camden Hills State Park has roots that date back to the formation of the Civilian Conservation Corps. They worked tirelessly with the National Park Service from 1935 through 1941. Camden Hills State Park was officially opened in 1947, and is operated by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.
The town of Camden, ME has been around since the late 1700’s. While its origins are in factories and manufacturing, today tourism fuels the economy heavily. The waterfront in the summer is the center of all activity, with sailing ships departing constantly on tours and plenty of restaurants and shops to explore.
ACTIVITIES IN CAMDEN HILLS STATE PARK
Camden Hills State Park map, courtesy of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry
If you love the outdoors, there is a little bit of everything here for you. From summer hiking and biking to wintertime cross-country skiing, you can definitely find something to do during your visit. Most of the activities don’t require any pre-planning, other than making sure you bring the right equipment for any planned items.
Our recommendations in Camden Hills State Park include:
- Drive the Mount Battie Auto Road. This short drive takes you to the top of Mount Battie, which has amazing views. On a good day, you can see all the way to Acadia National Park. There is also a tower up top that you can climb.
- Biking. There are about 9 miles of trails for cycling inside of Camden Hills State Park. Some of the trails are a bit challenging to bike, so be prepared to get off the bike and hike a bit alongside your bike if you are unable to tackle them. Biking is only allowed on trails that are designated with a bicycle symbol.
- Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. There are plenty of trails that are great for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Check out here for the latest trail conditions.
THE BEST HIKES IN CAMDEN HILLS STATE PARK
Our favorite activity to do in Camden Hills State Park is hiking. While the trails here are not overly difficult, there are a lot of them (over 2 dozen). You’ll have a difficult time picking which one to do! You can make your own loops on established paths, as there are many options on how to get to the same location and back. Here are a few of our favorites:
- The Maiden Cliff Trail is a great hike if you are a more experienced hiker. The trail is a bit challenging-it’s 1.4-miles (round-trip) only, but it starts off with a pretty significant climb (500 feet in about 0.5-miles) before starting to level out as you get to the top of the cliff. At the top you’ll have great views! Beware, as the trail can be slippery when wet. Hike option: you can return on the Scenic Trail, which adds 0.3-miles onto the return trip. The trailhead starts outside of the park, about 3.0 miles north on Highway 52. The trailhead is well marked.
- If you are in search of amazing views of the Penobscot, the Bald Rock Trail is a great option. This trail is a bit steep and climbs about 830 feet on the 1.4-mile loop. We recommend hiking in the clockwise direction. From the top, the peak is wide open, offering some of the best views around. The trailhead starts at the end of Bald Rock Road where Highway 173 meets Highway 52.
- One of the most popular trails in the park is the Mount Battie Trail. Though only 1.1-miles (round-trip), this is a moderately difficult hike that climbs nearly 600 feet on the way to the top, with most of it happening in the first 0.4 miles. The view from the top is worth the effort, though! You can also climb the tower on top. The trailhead begins at the end of Megunticook Street from outside the park, which is only a 2-minute drive from Camden (near Highway 52). Parking can be a challenge.
- Another challenging hike with a great reward is the Mount Megunticook Trail. This 3.6-mile (round-trip) hike climbs about 1500 feet on the way to an overlook that has great view of the harbor and the Penobscot Bay. Because of the elevation gain (which happens in the first 1.5 miles), you have to be ready to hike, but this has a wonderful view on the top. Hike option: Take the Adams Lookout Trail on the way back (which cuts off about 0.2 miles). The trailhead is located in the park, about 0.25 miles up the Mount Battie Road on the right side.
- For an easier hike, try the Shoreline Trail. This hike is only about 0.8-miles (round-trip) and heads down to the water from the campground area. There aren’t amazing views, but this is a good way to walk to the water for a picnic. The trail is mostly flat-only about 50 feet of elevation change. The trailhead begins in the park on the east side of Route 1 near the picnic area and group camping site.
WHAT IS THERE TO DO NEAR CAMDEN HILLS STATE PARK?
There really is a bunch to do that is close to Camden. Using Camden Hills State Park as a home-base for a few days or even a week is a great idea, and you won’t get bored! Our recommendations include:
- Visit Camden, Maine. The town is actually within walking distance of the park (about a mile down Route 1). The town if full of great things to do, shops to poke around in and good restaurants. You can also take a several hour (or several day!) tour on a sailboat.
- Take a drive to Rockland, Maine. While not as compact as Camden, Rockland has been revamped over the last 20 years and is cool to visit. You can visit the Farnsworth Art Museum or take a walk out to the lighthouse at the end of the breakwater.
- Visit Lincolnville, Maine. Located about seven miles north on Route 1, Lincolnville has a great beach and one of our favorite places to get coffee, Green Tree Coffee & Tea.
HOW TO GET TO CAMDEN HILLS STATE PARK AND OTHER TRAVEL INFORMATION
Camden Hills State Park is not challenging to get to, but like many places in New England, it’s not overly straightforward and you will have to do a bit of research to pick the right route for you. It’s located on Route 1 (which starts in Boston and ends at the Canadian border after traveling the entire coastline of Maine) and is just north of Camden, ME. The fastest way here involves taking the interstate (I-95 to I-295) and getting on Route 1 in Brunswick, ME. Here are a few recommended routes:
- Directions from Portland, ME to Camden Hills State Park. This will take a bit under an hour without traffic. In the summer, expect it to take about 2.5 hours.
- Directions from Acadia National Park to Camden Hills State Park. This will take about 90 minutes without traffic.
Whatever route you take, plan on taking extra time to make a few stops along the way if this is your first time to the Maine Coast. The landscape is beautiful, and rushing through the towns would be doing a disservice to yourself!
If you are flying into the area, the best airport is Bangor, ME, followed by Portland, ME. If you do fly into Boston, MA, the drive is about 3.5 hours.
ENTRANCE FEES AND REQUIRED PASSES FOR CAMDEN HILLS STATE PARK
Entrance fees are required if you drive into the park. Costs are for anyone who is in the vehicle, and there is a discount if you are a Maine Resident. For the latest fees, check out this site on Maine State Park Day Use Fees.
CAMDEN HILLS STATE PARK CAMPING
Camden Hills State Park map, courtesy of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry
The campground in Camden Hills State Park is great-it has plenty of amenities and allows you to have a home base while you explore the area!
Camden Hills State Park Campground:
- Location: The Camden Hills State Park Campground is located mainly on the east side of Route 1 (a small portion is on the west side), just north of Camden, ME. Directions from Camden, ME to Camden Hills State Park Campground.
- Accessible via: Vehicle
- Reservations: Offered during the summer months. Camden Hills State Park Campground Reservations.
- Capacity: 100 sites.
- Electricity / Water Hookups / Dump Station: Yes / Yes / Yes.
- Toilets / Showers: Flush toilets and no showers.
- Additional details: The sites are mostly wooded and offer some privacy. Wifi is available at the campground, though count on it being slow. Be sure to book well in advance.
BEST TIME TO VISIT CAMDEN HILLS STATE PARK
Maine simply shines in the summertime. The landscape is green, it’s warm enough to be outside during all times of day, yet not so hot you will feel miserable. It does get humid, but the humidity is nothing compared to our friends in the south.
If you come in early May to mid-June, expect black flies. These flies are pretty relentless, and will bother even the most hearty of individuals. Mosquitoes can be a bit bothersome in the evenings earlier in the summer as well.
Spring is nice, but be prepared for some wetness on the trails and the potential for slippery conditions as the melt off occurs.
Coming here in fall is incredible as well. It’s hard to know exactly when the peak season is for colors (as it varies by year), but usually the 1st or 2nd week in October is a safe bet. After Columbus Day, the weather turns cold and the trees drop their leaves quickly.
VISITING CAMDEN HILLS STATE PARK IN THE WINTER
Winter is a great time to visit, if you are prepared. The campground is open (without facilities) and the hiking trails are excellent for skiing or snowshoeing. The town is very quiet (many shops are closed), but this can be a very peaceful time.
ARE PETS ALLOWED IN CAMDEN HILLS STATE PARK?
Pets are allowed in Camden Hills State Park, but they must be kept on a leash at all times.
RELATED INFORMATION ON THE SURROUNDING AREA FROM JUST GO TRAVEL STUDIOS
- If you are coming to this part of Maine, then you have to check out Acadia National Park. Our blogs on Acadia will help get you started with your planning!
- When you get back from your trip, send us a photos and we’ll create a custom, vintage travel poster. We’ll include your custom wording and turn it into a true piece of art!