Top ten hidden gems of Camden Maine. If you are traveling to the MidCoast soon, add these items to your itinerary to enhance your local experience.
1. Lighthouse lookout
2. Curtis Island lighthouse and Island trail
3. The Preserve in Lake Megunticook
4. The reading room at the Camden Public Library
5. Elm Street Grill
6. The Farmers Market at the Knox Mill
7. Great coffee and treats at Zoot Coffee House
8. Laite Beach
9. The top of Ragged Mountain
10. Lookout Point, Mt Megunticook
Lighthouse lookout is at the top of Bayview Street. It is the only public place in Camden Maine that you can see the local lighthouse. The Lighthouse is on Curtis Island. Big beautiful houses and trees line Bayview street and block the view of the Camden Maine lighthouse. But, if you look for Beacon Rd, there is a tree across the street that has a small sign that says ”Lighthouse Loookout”. The neighborhood is residential, therefore big signs are not allowed. If you locate the sign, you will see there is a well maintained trail to the cliff that reveals the view of the lighthouse. The schooners sail by the lighthouse to give tourists a look. Your view from Lighthouse lookout includes sailing schooners, eagles, and rocky coastline, making it a true gem of Camden. Lighthouse look out is about ½ mile from Windward House.
Curtis Island Lighthouse. The Camden Maine lighthouse is on a nearby island not too far from Camden. You can get to the Island by Kayak. If you have your own kayak, you can launch from Laite Beach. Laite Beach in on Bayview Street. You can also launch from Steam Boat landing, which is on the opposite side of the harbor at the end of Sea Street. The distance to Curtis Island is not far. You will have to be careful crossing the channel. Once you get to Curtis Island you can tie up, walk up the staircase, and enjoy the trail around the island. At the top of the stairs is voluntary sign in spot. There is a wooden platform that holds a book that you can put your name in. It is fun to look through the book and see that people from all around the world have been to this little island. The Island is a Town owned park and well maintained. At the top of the staircase from the water, if you turn left, you will see the start of the island trail. The trail hugs the perimeter of the island. There are benches along the way to sit and enjoy the view. At the far end of the island is the lighthouse. A local family lives there for the summer. You cannot go in the lighthouse. Keep walking past the lighthouse and the trail will bring you back to the sign in book. If you look to your left, towards the middle of the island there is a swing hanging from a large tree in the middle of the island. Take a quick swing and then head back to the kayak. High tide comes quickly, so be mindful of the tides so that you do not lose you kayak.
The Preserve in Lake Megunticook. Lake Megunticoook is the place all the locals swim in Camden Maine. The ocean water off the coast of Maine is notoriously cold, even in August. The lake is on Rt 52, Mountain Street. The Preserve is a Town owned island in Lake Megunticook. If you want to go out to the preserve, you can either kayak or canoe there. A good launching place is the Boggs Bridge on Rt 105. Paddle out and head for the island. Once you get to the island there is a picnic table and trail. Take the trail to get to jumping rock. There is another picnic table there and a fun place to jump into the Lake. Kids love to show off their somersault and jump tricks here.
The Reading Room at the Camden Public Library. Many people walk right by the CPL in downtown Camden Maine. The location of the library at the top of Main Street and head of the harbor lends itself to awesome views. The reading room is upstairs and has a big window overlooking the harbor. There are newspapers, magazines and computers in the reading room. The comfy chairs and fireplace make this an ideal relaxing place. The Library is located across the street from Windward House.
Elm Street Grill. I consider Elm Street Grill to be a true hidden foodie gem. Elm Street Grill is not in the downtown of Camden Maine, but not far from it. It is on route one, on the way south from the downtown of Camden Maine. The place has a nice energy to it. Locals like to come here because the pizza is good and there is always good beer on draft. A couple of times a week, they have local jazz musicians play. The owner’s father was a mainstay of Jazz music in Camden and there is a memorial to him in the corner that reminds locals of the fun past at Elm Street Grill and local band All That Jazz.
The Farmers Market at Knox Mill. The Farmers Market is a little off the beaten path. It is in the parking lot of the old Knox Mill. There are directional signs strategically placed around town on Thursday and Saturdays’ pointing people to the market. The Market is a fun place to see all the local food. You will see names at this market that perhaps you read on a local menu. Restaurant owners are often seen checking out the fresh ingredients. The Market is a short walk from Windward House.
Zoot’s Coffee House is one of the local coffee shops in the downtown. Zoots is a fun place to enjoy a cup of coffee and a pastry treat. The coffee house is small and decorated with local art.
Laite Beach is a short walk from Windward House up Bayview Street. The Beach is a great place to put your feet in the water. At low tide there is a small sandy area that you can put a beach chair out, read or watch the boats come in and out of the harbor. There is a public bathroom and picnic benches here. This place is a hidden gen because from the road, you cannot see the beach. To get to the beach, you need to go down a short staircase. There is a little amphitheater recently created on the hill going down to the beach. I highly recommend getting some take-out food from the downtown and sitting at having a picnic here. It is rarely crowded and the views are fantastic.
Top of Ragged Mountain. This gem almost seems unfair to share. Getting to the top of Ragged Mountain is not so easy. The best time to get to the top is in the fall and the winter when the chairlift is working. In the Fall, the town runs the chairlift for leaf peepers. In the winter the chairlift is for the skiers. The view from the top of the mountain is beautiful. You can see out into the ocean. In the winter, Ragged Mountain is the only mountain on the East coast that has an ocean view for skiers.
Hiking Trail, Look Out Point. Camden Hills State Park has many trails. Mt. Megunticook is the higher of the 2 mountains in the park and culminates at the top. You can hike to the top, but we recommend Look Out Point. Look Out Point is an area near the top of Mt. Megunticook that is rocky and has open views of ocean, lake and the mountains of the coast. Getting to look out point is not an easy trail but definitely worth it. You can get to the top many different routes. One trail can be accessed from leaving the Camden Windward House parking lot, and walking up Meguticook Street. The Mt. Battie Trail leads to the tablelands trail and the look out point is accessed from the Tablelands.