The 7 Best Trail-to-Pub Pairings in Maine's Midcoast and Islands

Monhegan Island home to Monhegan Brewing Company.
Monhegan Island home to Monhegan Brewing Company. Monhegan Brewery, Paul Edney
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Maine’s picturesque lighthouses, rocky coastlines, uninhabited islands, charming small towns, and relaxed vibe have been attracting visitors for centuries. But it’s the state’s booming craft beer scene that has an entirely new group of visitors coming to the Pine Tree State. With so many breweries—90 and counting—and so little time, it can be tough to choose which brewpubs to visit and which to save for your next trip.

That’s where we come in. We’ve put together a list of some of the best brewpubs in Maine’s midcoast region, and the best hiking trails to pair with them (you gotta work for it, right?). From a tiny farmhouse brewery in the woods to a rowdy bar with an oyster shell floor, there’s a Maine ale-and-trail experience for every kind of adventurer.

1. Hidden Valley Nature Center | Oxbow Brewery in Newcastle

The Oxbow Brewery’s beautiful rustic farmhouse location, where there’s usually a local food truck parked.
The Oxbow Brewery’s beautiful rustic farmhouse location, where there’s usually a local food truck parked. Cait Bourgault/ Maine Midcoast and Islands

Explore 1,000 acres of pristine Maine wilderness at the Hidden Valley Nature Center, where 18 miles of interconnected, forested trails pass wetlands and ponds before leading to clifftop views. Try the easy, one-mile walk along the Moose Alley-Couch Hill Nature Trail to learn more about the area, or the three-mile Bowl Loop Trail through wildlife habitats and past a 30-foot rock face for a longer trek.

Then trust your GPS as it guides you five miles down a rural road and into the woods to Oxbow Brewery’s rustic farmhouse location. The cozy space is open Wednesdays-Saturdays and is home to their tasting room and brewing operations. Boston Globe Travel raves about the fact that you can even rent the farmhouse for up to nine people. Order a flight of their inventive, Belgian-style varietals like Harvest, a saison brewed with Maine-grown hops and grains. Pair your beer with local cheese and crackers or homemade pickles served at their outdoor picnic tables. Follow it with a round of cornhole or a tour of the growing orchard behind the brewery.

2. Oven’s Mouth Preserve | Boothbay Craft Brewery in Boothbay

Boothbay Craft Brewery is a close four miles from Oven’s Mouth Preserve.
Boothbay Craft Brewery is a close four miles from Oven’s Mouth Preserve. Watershed Tavern & Boothbay Craft Brewery

Bring your four-legged friend along on this must-do hike, the 1.75-mile Oven’s Mouth Preserve’s Western Shoreline Loop. The short but challenging trail passes salt marshes, tidal rivers, forested shoreline, and the remnants of Ice House Cove, where a dam was constructed in the late 1880s to make ice that was shipped to large American cities.

Get your hike in early and return in time forBoothbay Craft Brewery’s 3 p.m. daily tour and tasting. This quintessential Maine brewery is just four miles from the preserve, and doesn’t use any artificial ingredients in their handcrafted ales. Stay after the tour for organic cuisine and fresh seafood at their restaurant, the Watershed Tavern.

3. Lobster Cove Trail | Monhegan Brewing Company on Monhegan Island

Lobster Cove Trail on Monhegan Island is the perfect scenic day hike.
Lobster Cove Trail on Monhegan Island is the perfect scenic day hike. JR P

Ten miles off Maine’s coast you’ll find Monhegan Island, a rocky haven for wilderness seekers and artists alike. The only way to visit is by boat, and there are no cars or even paved roads on the island. But it’s paradise for solitude seekers as quiet, scenic hiking trails crisscross it. If you only have a day, check out theLobster Cove Trail to see a lighthouse, the shipwreck of a tugboat, and spectacular ocean views.

Return to town for a pint of the aptly named Lobster Cove American Pale Ale on the deck of Monhegan Brewing Company. The first beer this family-owned brewery ever created, it’s light and refreshing after a hike.

4. Bald Rock Mountain |The Drouthy Bear in Camden

The views from Bald Rock Mountain Trail go on as far as the eye can see.
The views from Bald Rock Mountain Trail go on as far as the eye can see. Jerry Stone

Panoramic views of Penobscot Bay and Maine’s islands await on this quiet hike to the top of Camden Hills State Park’s second tallest peak. Don’t let the elevation scare you off though—the gradually ascending trail is doable for groups, families, and dogs (just be sure to keep them on a leash). To get to the 1,100-foot summit, hike 1.3 miles on a multi-use trail beginning in Lincolnville before connecting to the quiet, half-mile path to the top.

Once your legs are spent from the trek up the mountain and back, drive to Camden to visit the cozy brew pub in the heart of town, The Drouthy Bear. For scotch and whiskey aficionados, this place is a dream. They carry more than 70 single-malts and whiskies from around the world. The beer selection, both local and international, is just as good.

5. Moose Point State Park | Three Tides and Marshall Wharf Brewing Company in Belfast

Take a short hike through Moose Point State Park.
Take a short hike through Moose Point State Park. Bob Zarazowski

Maine’s iconic rocky, forested coastline is on full display at Moose Point State Park, just four miles from Belfast. Small in size, but big on beauty, take Big Spruce Trail to Moose Trail for a 1.2-mile loop past tidal pools, bay views, and towering pines.

After exploring the park, drive five miles and step back in time at the small, coastal town of Belfast. This gem overlooks Penobscot Bay and is home to art galleries, historic architecture, the country’s oldest shoe store, and a unique local bar and small plates eatery, Three Tides.

Boasting a spot right on the water and outdoor deck with an oyster shell floor, visitors rave about the locally sourced oysters and mussels. The adjacentMarshall Wharf Brewing Company offers 17 craft beers on draft, including unique seasonal favorites like a Cream Ale and Sea Belt, a Scotch ale brewed with Maine sugar kelp that made HopCulture’s List of Weirdest Beers from the Sea this year.

6. Rockland Breakwater Trail | Rock Harbor Brewing Company in Rockland

The walkable granite breakwater extends 4,346 feet, eight tenths of a mile, from Jameson Point into Rockland Harbor.
The walkable granite breakwater extends 4,346 feet, eight tenths of a mile, from Jameson Point into Rockland Harbor. Jonmikel & Kat Pardo

When in Maine, coastal lighthouse touring is a must. And in Rockland, even the walk to the lighthouse is rich with history. It took the last two decades of the 1800s to complete the mile-long granite walkway that extends into the bay and leads out to the Breakwater Lighthouse. Designed to protect Rockland Harbor from storms, the path’s massive granite blocks were placed up to 70-feet deep and cut to form a path. The lighthouse at the end of the trail is still in use today, and you can see U.S. Coast Guard memorabilia inside.

After walking on water, explore Rockland’s quaint Main Street coffee shops and boutiques before grabbing a pint and an appetizer at the city’s only brewery, Rock Harbor Pub and Brewing Company. Don’t leave without tasting the Breakwater Wheat, a lighter beer brewed with coriander and orange peel.

7. Salt Bay Heritage Trail | King Eider's Pub in Damariscotta

The Glidden Midden is a neat archaeological site to see on the Salt Bay Heritage Trail.
The Glidden Midden is a neat archaeological site to see on the Salt Bay Heritage Trail. J.Elizabeth Clark /Liz Summit

See evidence of ancient coastal Maine settlements on this trailalong Great Salt Bay. Visit at low tide to ensure the boardwalks and bridges are above water, and take the approximately three-mile loop to a fascinating archaeological site—the Glidden Midden. A midden is a massive pile of discarded shells left behind centuries ago, and this oyster shell pile was made by Abenaki and Algonquin tribes long before colonists arrived in Maine.

Après in the charming coastal village of Damariscotta at King Eider’s Pub for a brew and some renown Damariscotta River oysters. The locally sourced menu features fresh seafood, British favorites like Bangers and Mash, and craft beer from a variety of Maine breweries.

Originally written for Maine's Midcoast & Islands.

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