Maine’s Downeast Explorer


Challenge Level: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Trip Details

  • Trip Start: Freeport, ME, USA
  • Trip End: Freeport, ME, USA
  • Age Range: 13 - 15
  • Trip Dates: 6/30 - 7/12, 7/16 - 7/28, 8/01 - 8/13
  • Tuition: $3095 (airfare not included)

Trip Highlights

  • Sea Kayak and Volunteer in Isle au Haut Bay
  • Explore Acadia National Park
  • Backpack Baxter State Park and summit Mount Katahdin
  • Celebrate in Portland

Trip Overview

By land and by sea, this summer backpacking trip and kayaking adventure is “The Best of Maine.” On this goal-oriented trip, you’ll sea kayak spectacular Isle au Haut Bay, help clean up coastal habitats, hike world-famous Acadia National Park, and summit 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 and Community Service in Isle au Haut Bay

We’ll meet in Freeport, Maine and transfer by van to Camden where we’ll get to know each other as we hike the hills of this picturesque seaside town. Heading farther “downeast” to the rocky shores of Stonington, we’ll shove off in sea kayaks and paddle for three days among the beautiful islands of Isle au Haut Bay. In coordination with the Maine Island Trail Association, we’ll clean up marine debris from the surrounding islands and help maintain the Bay’s pristine beauty. At night we’ll camp on quiet islands, eat together under windswept pines, and wake up to the sound of seagulls, lapping waves and working lobster boats.

Hiking in Acadia National Park & Climbing Mount Katahdin

Sea-sprayed and accomplished, we’ll come off the water and head for Acadia National Park, where “the mountains meet the sea.” After two days of hiking Acadia’s friendly trails, we’ll be ready for the more rugged landscape of Baxter State Park. Our multi-day backpacking excursion will take us through silent forests, past ponds where moose gather, and up the rocky face of Mount Katahdin. The northernmost point of the Appalachian Trail, Katahdin’s summit will reward us with stunning views of Maine’s expansive wilderness. Our biggest challenge conquered, we’ll rest our legs as we drive back to Portland and then treat ourselves to a festive farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

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 4 (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 just a bit easier than our California Mountains & Coast trip. Please note that all of Apogee’s Challenge Levels are not scientific and are subjectively calculated by the Apogee staff.

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 treat drinking water prior to consumption. Our DEX trip has two backcountry portions: a two-night sea kayaking expedition and a two-night backpack on the Appalachian Trail. Your child should expect to carry somewhere between 20 and 30 pounds in their pack during the Appalachian Trail section.

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 meal, accommodation, and activity fees. The most significant additional expenses on our Maine’s Downeast Explorer trip will include travel to and from Portland, ME, a sleeping bag and sleeping pad, a backpacking pack, and hiking boots.

Is there any special gear required for the sea-kayaking portion of the DEX trip?

In short, no. Your child will be suitably prepared for sea kayaking (and all of the activities on their DEX trip) if you follow the packing list we provide. Our sea-kayaking outfitter provides all kayak-specific gear, and the packing list includes everything else that your child will need.

What does the community service portion of this trip entail?

Our service projects vary from year to year, but most DEX groups will work with the Maine Island Trail Association during the sea-kayaking portion of the trip to keep islands in Isle au Haut Bay pristine. This usually involves kayaking to a number of small islands and working for an hour or so on each. Students can expect 4-6 hours of community service on DEX.

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