Known as “the village where the mountains meet the sea”, Camden has been described by scores of travel writers as the most beautiful village in Maine. There are no shopping malls, fast food restaurants or multi-level parking garages to detract from this extremely picturesque waterside community. Instead, the focus is on white-steepled churches; narrow streets lined with quaint shops and restaurants, ample parks and common greens, stately old homes, and one of the most photographed harbors in the world.
There are three things which every visitor to Camden should do: stroll through the park by the waterfall and enjoy the harbor, go for a sail on a windjammer, and see the incredible view from the summit of Mt Battie in the Camden Hills State Park. The story is often told of how a young girl from the village was so inspired by the vista that she wrote a poem, which launched her literary career. A plaque at the peak marks the spot where Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote her best-known poem “Renascence”.
Less well known but equally spectacular is the view from Maiden Cliff. The trail begins at the parking area located 3 miles from Rt. 1 on the right side of Rt. 52. Following an old logging road and a small stream, the trail climbs through woods and open rock ledges to the summit of an 800-foot sheer cliff which overlooks Lake Megunticook and the mountains to the west. A tall wooden cross stands near the place where 11 year old Elenora French fell to her death in 1862.
A grand bike ride is the seven-mile trip around Beauchamp Point, which takes you through woods and farmland -- most of the way just a few yards from the ocean. You will pass a herd of Belted Galloways (very unusual cattle -- the kids call them “Oreo cookie cows” because they are black on both ends and white in the middle), the Children’s Chapel, and Anne Kilham’s art gallery. Anne is a well-known Maine artist whose work has received national acclaim.
When you reach Rockport harbor take a walk around Marine Park which has a lovely view of Indian Island light and an antique narrow gauge steam engine which once hauled lime to the trio of old kilns. A free large-scale map for this trip is available at the Maine Stay.
If you like old homes, a walk through the High Street Historic District is a must. The rectangular shaped area of approximately 65 acres is bisected by High Street and includes portions of several crossing streets. The predominantly residential district contains 65 buildings, 61 of them are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. With the Camden Hills State Park to the west and Penobscot Bay to the east, this group of lovely homes is indeed nestled between the mountains and the sea.
If you would rather row than walk, take a picnic lunch to Curtis Island. Located in the mouth of Camden harbor, about one mile from the public landing, is a small island owned by the village and open to public use. There is no dock or mooring point on the island and boats with motors are not allowed to put ashore. This leaves the island to the hearty souls who row or paddle out to enjoy a quiet time. You can sit beside the lighthouse and contemplate life or search for interesting shells along the shore. No stores, no cars, not much of anything -- except for the rocks and waves, the pines and wild flowers, sea birds and seals. By the way, if it is a cloudy day, don’t sit next to the foghorn...
Winter brings a quiet time to Camden -- or at least to people from away, it seems to. The truth of the matter is that when the last of the leaf peepers depart the local folks get ready for a host of cold weather activities. First some of the inside activities. Over a century old, our local Opera House has been lovingly restored and is the venue for plays, concerts and some mighty lively town meetings. Near-by Rockport Opera House is also a home for the performing arts. The Bay Chamber Concerts present a series of afternoon and evening concerts each year. Every February the Center for Global Ethics hosts “The Camden Conference” which brings together leaders from academia, business and governmental agencies to discuss public policy and foreign affairs.
Out-door activities are also plentiful. The Camden Snow Bowl at Ragged Mountain leads the list with a wide variety of activities offered. There you will find the only community toboggan chute in the State of Maine. This 400 foot long chute takes you flashing down the side of the mountain and out onto Hosmer Pond for a long slide on the ice. You will also find ski equipment for sale or rent, the ski school, night skiing, an attractive lodge, nine well-groomed trails, and the only chair lift in the United States with a view of the Atlantic. Ice-skating, ice fishing and cross-country skiing are also very popular.