Maine’s Downeast Explorer

teen summer sea kayaking, backpacking & community service

Trip Details

  • Start: Brunswick, ME, USA
  • End: Brunswick, ME, USA
  • Age Range: 13 - 15
  • Challenge Level (1-10): 5
  • Tuition: $3799 (airfare not included)

Trip Dates

  • June 28 - July 10 (Waitlist)
  • July 14 - July 26 (Waitlist)
  • July 30 - August 11 (Please Call)

Trip Highlights

  • Sea kayak Maine’s rocky coast
  • Explore world-famous Acadia National Park
  • Backpack on the Appalachian Trail and climb Maine’s highest peak, Mt. Katahdin
  • Help clean up a coastal habitat
  • Explore and celebrate in historic Portland, Maine

Trip Overview

By land and by sea, this action-packed hiking, backpacking, and kayaking adventure offers the best of Maine. On this goal-oriented trip, you’ll sea kayak along Maine’s rocky coast, help clean up coastal habitats, hike world-famous Acadia National Park, and attempt a summit of Mount Katahdin, Maine’s tallest peak. Vacationers travel great distances to do just one of these amazing activities – you’ll do them all. What’s more? You’ll return home with incredible new friendships, stories to share, and memories to last a lifetime.

Sea Kayaking Jericho Bay

Sea Kayaking Jericho Bay

Following introductions in Brunswick, Maine, we’ll transfer to a campground along the coast in Stonington, where we’ll get to know one another and discuss all the exciting things that lie ahead. The next morning, we’ll meet our kayaking guides and shove off in sea kayaks to paddle for two days among the picturesque islands and rocky inlets that make Maine’s coastline so spectacular and unique. That night, we’ll camp on an uninhabited island that’s preserved by the Maine Island Trail Association, eat together under windswept pines, gaze at the stars, and wake up to the sound of seagulls, lapping waves, and working lobster boats.

Hiking Acadia National Park

Hiking Acadia National Park

Feeling sea-sprayed and accomplished, we’ll come off the water and head for Acadia National Park, where “the mountains meet the sea.” Here, we’ll lace up our boots and hit the trails, quickly discovering why Acadia is one of the most visited National Parks in the country. We’ll embark on some spectacular and iconic hikes and enjoy views of panoramic ocean vistas and endless forests. One of the highlights of our time in Acadia will come during our sunrise hike of Cadillac Mountain, where we’ll be among the first people in the country to watch the sunrise on the eastern seaboard, soaking in the deep oranges, crimsons, and violets. After three days of hiking Acadia’s friendly trails, we’ll be ready for more rugged landscapes.

Backpacking the Appalachian Trail & Climbing Mount Katahdin

Backpacking the Appalachian Trail & Climbing Mount Katahdin

Our multi-day backpacking excursion in the north Maine woods will take us on a section of the famed Appalachian Trail, through silent forests and past ponds where moose gather. Upon arrival in Baxter State Park, we’ll embark up the rocky terrain of Mount Katahdin, the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail and the highest peak in Maine, providing stunning views of Maine’s expansive wilderness. Our biggest challenge conquered, we’ll head back to Portland to explore the Old Port and enjoy a celebratory dinner out on the water.

Trip FAQs

Please see our General FAQ page for many more frequently asked questions and answers!

How physically challenging is DEX?

Given a rating of Challenge Level 5 (out of a maximum of 10), we consider DEX to be an intermediate hiking trip that any moderately fit, motivated student can successfully complete with some preparation. Compared to similar hiking trips, we believe that DEX is slightly more challenging than New England Mountains & Coast and Colorado’s Rocky Mountains (mostly due to trip length, the challenge of climbing Mount Katahdin, and carrying substantial weight during the backcountry portion on the Appalachian Trail), but easier than our Northwest Explorer trip. Please note that all of Apogee’s Challenge Levels are not scientific and are subjectively calculated by the Apogee staff.

Where will my child be sleeping at night?

The group will be camping every night over the course of the trip; they will spend eight nights in established, front country campsites, and four nights in the “backcountry” (two nights island camping and two nights on the Appalachian Trail). Leaders will separate students by gender into tent groups, and will rotate those groups several times over the course of the trip. Students will share a tent with one or two other students.

What is the maximum number of students I can expect on my child’s Apogee trip?

There are never more than twelve students on an individual session of this trip. Additionally, we limit enrollment by gender to two-thirds/one-third. Groups are always led by two qualified leaders.

What is the difference between front-country and backcountry hiking? What will the backcountry portion of DEX be like? How much weight will my child carry during this portion?

Generally speaking, the front-country is any area that is easily accessible by vehicles and day users. Hiking in the backcountry, on the other hand, involves hiking and camping in more remote locations without running water. Hiking and camping in the backcountry requires more preparation because of the need to carry in all food and equipment, and to treat drinking water prior to consumption. Our DEX trip has two backcountry portions: a two-night sea-kayaking expedition, where the group will island-camp, and a two-night backpacking section on the Appalachian Trail. Your child should expect to carry somewhere between 20 and 30 pounds in their pack during the Appalachian Trail section.

What does the community service portion of this trip entail?

The specifics of our community service projects and the number of hours we volunteer varies slightly from year-to-year. In the past, we have worked with the Maine Island Trail Association on a variety of tasks, including trash pick-up and beach beautification on various islands during our sea-kayaking portion. Students can expect 3-5 hours of community service work over the course of our trip.

How will I communicate with my child while they are on this trip?

We are a technology-free program, meaning that your child won’t have access to their phone or other electronics over the course of their trip. We have one mail stop on Maine’s Downeast Explorer; parents, relatives, and friends are welcome to use this to send letters or postcards to a student. Note that we do not allow packages to be sent – letters and postcards only. If you have an urgent message to get to your child, please call our office and we’ll work to get you connected with your child.

My child will be flying to this trip start. How will they connect with their leaders?

Please note that Apogee staff members do not travel with students; our trip leaders will already be in Maine on arrival day and will stay in Maine after the trip ends. Apogee staff and trip leaders will have a detailed flight itinerary for each student who is flying to the trip start and will be at the airport to greet them on arrival. Once students are with their leaders, they will call home to let their parents know they have arrived and are with their group. Please see our blog post for specifics regarding students traveling as Unaccompanied Minors. Further, we encourage you to coordinate travel with other attendees; we’re happy to put you in touch with other enrolled families from your region. We will provide enrolled families with a Travel Information document covering details specific to traveling to and from Maine, including airport information and arrival and departure time windows. Please contact Apogee with any specific questions or concerns regarding drop-offs and/or pick-ups.

Aside from the trip cost, what are the additional expenses for this trip?

Apogee’s tuition costs are meant to be all-inclusive and include all meals, accommodation, and activity fees. The most significant additional expenses on our Maine’s Downeast Explorer trip will include travel to and from Portland, ME, hiking boots, sleeping bag and pad, backpacking pack, and personal gear. We suggest that you review the packing list (downloadable on this webpage) to determine what personal gear you already own and what you might need to acquire for this program. Please also check out our Gear Recommendations blog post for links to our personal recommendations.

To check trip availability, please call 207.725.7025, or email for more information.