The beauty of Maine’s fall foliage will be highlighted in the next few weeks with nine fall foliage events — including eight hikes and a river paddle — presented by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands and the Maine Forest Service.

This year’s foliage events offer more hikes and programs at more state parks and public lands as part of the 75th anniversary of the Maine state park system, according to Gary Best, assistant regional manager with the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands.

The collaborative outdoor events, now in their second year, have proven to be very successful, Best said. Each event will be hosted by both a park manager and the local Maine Forest Service district forester to offer a unique perspective on the foliage and trees in each area, he said.

“It’s a great time of year to encourage people to get out and experience the beauty of the changing seasons in Maine,” the BPL official said. “We once again are partnering with the Maine Forest Service to highlight some of the best places to view the fall foliage colors in Maine while learning why the leaves change color, what triggers leaf fall and to give a better understanding of Maine’s forests.”

Four hikes were held last year, with 180 people attending, including 60 people who took part in the hike at Aroostook State Park, Maine’s first state park, located near Presque Isle, he said.

“This year, we’re holding more hikes in more areas, so we are expecting more people to take part in the overall program,” Best said.

This year also marks the 75th anniversary of the Maine state park system, formed in 1935 when the Maine Legislature established the Maine State Park Commission. Aroostook State Park became Maine’s first state park in 1938 when a group of local businessmen donated land to the state for the park. BPL has been holding numerous events and programs throughout the year in recognition of the anniversary.

Best said the fall foliage events were particularly important because they showcase Maine’s beautiful state parks and public lands. The hikes and paddle also will provide information and an education about Maine’s 17 million acres of forest land, as well as provide a boost for nature-based tourism. Most importantly, the events will “get people outside for fun, recreation and health,” the park official said.

New this year is the inclusion of hikes at two public reserve land units, which should give participants an experience of these multi-use, wilderness areas managed by BPL. This year’s series of hikes will range from easy to moderate difficulty, Best said. Having both a park manager, who knows the land, and a district forester, who has an intimate knowledge of trees, lead the hikes is “a wonderful balance” of experience and information, he said.

The paddle will take place at the BPL’s newest park, the Androscoggin Riverlands State Park, north of the Lewiston-Auburn area, Best said. The event, sponsored by the Androscoggin Land Trust, “is going to be a lot of fun,” he predicted.

Hikers should wear sturdy, appropriate footwear, with enclosed toes, and comfortable clothing, preferably worn in layers. Paddlers will need to bring their own boats, life vests, and gear. Participants should bring cameras, binoculars, snacks and water.

The BPL and MFS especially thank Poland Spring for donating bottled water for this program.

The events will take place:

  • 10:30 a.m., Sunday, Sept. 19, Aroostook State Park, Presque Isle
  • 9 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 25, Deboullie Public Reserve Land, Aroostook County
  • 10 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 2, Mt. Blue State Park, Weld
  • 10 a.m., Sunday, Oct. 3, Sebago Lake State Park, Casco
  • 10 a.m., Sunday, Oct. 3, Bald Mountain Public Reserve Land, Franklin County
  • 10 a.m., Sunday, Oct. 3, Bradbury Mountain State Park, Freeport
  • 10 a.m., Sunday, Oct. 3, Androscoggin Riverlands State Park, Turner
  • 10 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 9, Shackford Head State Park, Eastport
  • 1 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 10, Camden Hills State Park, Camden.

For more specific information about the hikes/paddle, including difficulty and meeting places, go to: www.parksandlands.com or call, Melissa Macaluso, BPL, at 287-4960.