As the holidays approach, I often like to pair my weekend outdoor adventures with a little shopping, chipping away at the list of gifts before Christmas arrives. I like to think I’m somewhat of an expert at both activities — hiking and shopping — and so I’ve created a short list, for those interested, of great shopping spots in Maine paired with nearby hiking trails that are ideal for this chilly time of year.
If you enjoy this list and would like some more “shop and hike” suggestions, let me know in the comment section of this post! There’s plenty of time before the holidays to shop local and get some exercise.
Camden Hills State Park is home to a number of beautiful hiking trails, including moderately challenging trails that climb to the top of Megunticook Mountain and Maiden Cliff, as well as easy oceanside trails and a fairly easy road walk to the top of Mount Battie. And after the hike, check out some local shops in downtown Camden. Right on Route 1, you’ll find a wide variety of boutiques including Once A Tree fine woodworking store, JoEllen Designs home goods and decor shop, Sherman’s Maine Coast Bookshop, Smiling Cow gift shop and a local sporting goods store. And if you head down Bayview Street, you’ll find The Maine Dog, Uncle Willy’s Candy Shop and The Maine Gathering, a shop that represents 80 New England artisans.
Just outside downtown Belfast, 4-mile Little River Community Trail gives visitors the impression that they’re out in the wilderness as it traces a rushing river and winds through a mature forest. Trail users won’t see any houses or roads aside from when the trail crosses a road at the 1-mile mark. Built by the Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition, the trail is the perfect place to stretch your legs and breath some fresh air. Then, to shop local, you can head to the waterfront area in Belfast, where shops line Main Street and Front Street, including Coyote Moon jewelry and gift shop, The Purple Baboon gift shop, Colburn Shoe Store, All About Games store and Epoch home goods store. And don’t forget to hop across the river on Route 1 to check out the wares of Perry’s Nut House and Bennett’s Gems and Jewelry.
3. Bar Harbor
Tracing the rocky coast, the scenic Huguenot Head Trail is just one of many trails in Acadia National Park, and it’s easily accessible year round. The 1.4-mile loop trail offers stunning views of Frenchman Bay and nearby islands. In addition to leading to the highest point of Great Head, a cliff that rises 145 feet above sea level, the trail visits the appropriately-named Sand Beach, one of the park’s most popular destinations, and the ruins of a 1900s tea house. Nearby, you can spend hours browsing the shops of downtown Bar Harbor, where you’ll find family-owned stores that date back generations, such as Willis Rock Shop. While some of the shops close for the winter, many of them stay open for the holiday season, and most of them can be found on Main Street and Cottage Street.
Indian Point Preserve in Ellsworth features an easy hike under giant white pines to Indian Point, a spit of land on the Union River at the mouth of Card Brook. The point is a good spot to look for bald eagles fishing the river. It’s also a historic site, used by the native people of Maine thousands of years ago. Pair this little, 1-mile hike with a shopping trip in downtown Ellsworth, where a number of new shops have opened their doors in the past few years. Lining Main Street by the Union River are stores including Union River Book & Toy Co, Maine Alpaca Experience clothing and gift store, Beals Jewelry Store, Dream Catcher Antiques & Collectables, Contemporary Craft and The Rock & Art Shop.
Take a stroll on the 2-mile Kenduskeag Stream Trail, learning about the region’s history and wildlife from several interpretive displays along the way. And as you go, keep an eye out for the local bald eagles, which are often seen perched in trees along the stream. The trail leads right into the heart of downtown Bangor, where the Kenduskeag Stream meets the Penobscot River. There you’ll find numerous shops great for finding gifts. Shop exotic wares at Mexicali Blues, nature-inspired items at the Rock & Art Shop, or Maine-made jewelry and crafts at Rebecca’s. Find camping and hiking gear at Epic Sports, books at The Briar Patch and a variety of quirky gifts at The Willie Wags. When it comes to shopping in Bangor, that’s just scratching the surface.