Whatever your favorite thing about fall is, this is the year to get back to it.

Last year, the state still had restrictions on outdoor gatherings, which meant fairs and high school football games, among other things, were canceled. But with many people vaccinated against COVID-19, those restrictions have been lifted, even though case numbers are still relatively high.

The result is that just about anything you like to do in the fall in Maine is available to you this year. Hiking and biking in the cool fall air amid a colorful foliage backdrop are still options, but so are taking part in time-honored fall traditions like high school football games or seeing a marching band perform. Farms across the state are open for pumpkin and apple picking, and many offer corn mazes and other fall frolics.

Here are a few ideas for doing something fun this fall with your free time.

Klyler Tyler of Farmington chases friends through the corn maze at Ricker Hill Orchards in Turner. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

A MAZE-ING TIME

Corn mazes pop up at farms all around Maine this time of year. It’s part of a trend that’s been going on for some time now, where farmers offer family activities to get folks to come out to pick and buy their harvest. So if just picking up a bag of apples or a big pumpkin for carving sounds boring to the kids, tell them to get lost – in a corn maze.

People probably like corn mazes because there’s some mystery to them, and some are big enough to keep you searching for the exit for some time. The corn maze at Ricker Hill Orchards in Turner is designed for a family of four to navigate their way though in about half an hour, according to the farm’s website. Pumpkin Valley Farm in Dayton is celebrating 20 years of corn mazes this year, with a design depicting a donkey named Moses. Of course, you have to be airborne to see the picture clearly. McDougal Orchards in Springvale has weekend wagon rides plus a corn maze, but they ask that you make a reservation if you want to come out and pick fruit on the weekends.

ROOT FOR THE HOME TEAM

OK, so you’re not in high school anymore. That doesn’t mean you can’t cheer on the hometown team, or any team. It can be a really fun way to spend a crisp Friday night or Saturday afternoon, watching the action on a field against a backdrop of colorful foliage. Plus, there’s something exciting about watching youngsters play for the love of the game, as opposed to watching the pros on TV with their salaries in the millions. And any popcorn, hot dogs or treats you buy usually go toward supporting the team, the school or another good cause.

This weekend, the Friday night games include South Portland at Noble in North Berwick, Marshwood at Deering in Portland and Biddeford at Portland. Some of the Saturday games this week include York at Fryeburg Academy and Hampden Academy at Westbrook. See a full lineup of games each week at VarsityMaine.com or check out the website or Facebook page of your local high school for specific times, admission price (if any) and other details.

Spend a Friday night under the lights at a Maine high school football game. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

UP THE ROAD A PIECE

Hiking, or just taking a leisurely stroll, is particularly satisfying in fall. You can see lovely colors and you have the cool air to keep you from working up a sweat. People looking for an easy fall walk with scenic water views don’t have to venture far from Portland; in fact, they can just go across the Casco Bay Bridge to South Portland’s Greenbelt Walkway. From Mill Creek Park, you can follow the walkway along the harbor, with views of Portland’s waterfront. In a couple miles, you’re at Bug Light Park, where you can see Portland Breakwater Light, also known as Bug Light. Keep walking along the water to Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse, which you can reach by traversing a 900-foot breakwater of flat stones.

Bradbury Mountain is not a bad place for leaf-peeping, either. A view from the summit. Whitney Hayward/Staff Photographer

If you want more wooded hiking options, check out the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry website for state park and public land recommendations. Bradbury Mountain State Park in Pownal has a steep but quick quarter-mile trail to the summit, with great views, all the way to the ocean on a clear day. Camden Hills State Park lets you hike or drive to the summit and has spectacular ocean views. The website of Portland Trails has maps and descriptions of walking and hiking trails all over the city and beyond. One hidden “jewel” is the Fore River Sanctuary trail in Portland, which leads to Jewell Falls, the city’s only waterfall.

DRUM UP SOME FUN

Another fall tradition around Maine is watching high school marching band competitions. Instead of waiting until halftime of a football game to hear the band play, attend a marching band competition, where you’ll do nothing but listen to thunderous, energetic music. Plus, those uniforms and those big tall hats are pretty spectacular. Some of the upcoming marching band competitions are at Biddeford High School on Oct. 16, at Marshwood High School in South Berwick on Oct. 23, and the fall season finals on Oct. 30 at Sanford High School. For more information, go to the Maine Band Director’s Association website at mebda.org.

Take a ride to the Seashore Trolley Museum’s Pumpkin Patch. Photo courtesy of the Seashore Trolley Museum

PATCH WORK

Finding a pumpkin patch is pretty easy in Maine, or at least a farm or roadside stand where you can find pumpkins for sale. One place to go is the aforementioned Pumpkin Valley Farm, but there are several others. You can go the Maine Department of Agriculture’s “Real Maine” website and search the word “pumpkin” for places near you. The Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport is hosting its Pumpkin Patch Trolley rides this weekend, through Monday. You can ride a vintage trolley out to the pumpkin patch, pick up a pumpkin, and enjoy the rest of the trolley ride. The cost is $2 to $11.50 for kids and $14 for adults. For more information, go to trolleymuseum.org.


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