The Saco River winds its way southeastward from the White Mountains of New Hampshire and through the rolling hills of southern Maine, traveling roughly 140 miles on its journey to the sea. Local Indians named the river Saco, which means “a snakelike stream running midst the pine trees.” The description is quite accurate, but besides the tall white pines for which Maine is famous, maple, oak, beech and birch add to the rich colors blanketing the region each autumn. Another interpretation of the Indian name is “outflowing,” equally accurate for the giant watershed the river drains.
Southern Maine is best known for sprawling Sebago Lake. That’s fine with me as it keeps the country roads just west of the lake free of traffic. Here, you can poke along during a fall ramble and have plenty of elbow room. The countryside is more densely wooded than other sections of New England, with fewer farms opening up the panoramic views so common in Vermont. But if you know where to look and don’t mind a few short hikes, the visual rewards can be spectacular. And if you love to canoe or have always wanted to try, the Saco River is a perfect waterway to explore while enjoying fall’s colors from a new perspective.
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