I always enjoy getting outdoors and photographing the fall foliage in Maine but this year I had big ambitions with my new DJI Spark drone. I knew that the fall foliage was going to look even more incredible from the sky so I set out to capture as many places as I could in a short period of time. Peak conditions didn’t last nearly long enough but we were fortunate with the number of sunny days we had and I’m pleased with the outcome.
Map of Fall Foliage Filming Locations
The absolute best colors were in the greater Moosehead Lake Region during Columbus Day Weekend. That Saturday, my wife and I went to Big Wilson Falls and Little Wilson Falls in Guilford. The colors at Big Wilson Falls were absolutely amazing. I love this spot because you just drive up to it. Perfect for picnics in the summer. Little Wilson Falls, ironically the taller of the two falls, was a bit of a let-down because the water levels were low and I couldn’t get a good angle for photographs or with my GoPro. I did reluctantly take one flight with the drone there, after giving up on waiting for there to be no people around and being extra cautious flying due to all of the trees and the weak GPS signal, but a dog was spooked by the drone and started barking at it, cutting short a family’s visit to the falls, and that’s when I confirmed, yup, this was a bad idea. If I had more time that day, I’m sure I could have gotten some epic footage at nearby Borestone Mountain as well.
Sunday of Columbus Day Weekend actually started out with down pours, and as I drove 2 hours to Moxie Falls in West Forks, I asked myself what the hell I was thinking. Moxie Falls is a sight to behold in itself, but with the fall colors it was even more stunning. I did not fly the drone here because there was a weak signal, there were people around, and not a lot of open air. However, I got the footage that I included in the video by just holding the drone in my hand and panning it up and down. It down poured on my walk back to the car, but after that, the clouds parted and it turned into a beautiful day. I continued my drive north on Rt 201, filming white water rafters on the Kennebec River and at the gorgeous Attean Overlook in Jackman, the opening scene of the video. Next, I left the Old Canada Scenic Byway and got on the Moosehead Lake Scenic Byway, making stops in Rockwood by the Mt Kineo ferry and in Greenville on the dirt road to Big Moose Mountain. I’m glad I took that chance with the weather that day!
Some of the best footage came from unplanned stops, which I think is common when photographing fall foliage. You just drive around and pull over when you see something cool. On my way to the Katahdin Region to film Mt. Katahdin from outside Baxter State Park limits, I saw that a train was stopped on the tressel in Brownville parallel to the bridge on Rt 11 over Pleasant River. The reflections were stunning. Once in the Katahdin Region, I decided to check out the Debsconeag Wilderness area and explore the lakes by kayak. This is another gorgeous area, a place I’ll definitely return to next summer to go camping. You paddle to the campgrounds, which are totally private, free and first come first serve. While filming from the kayak, I clipped a tree while messing around with the drone’s remote controller. Luckily it didn’t cause the drone to drop from the air and fall in the water like it should have, but it was enough to spook me so that was the end of flying while kayaking for that day. The foliage was pretty good in this region, but it was already fading. Peak conditions only lasted a few days in each area this year.
Next year, first of all, I’m going to take that week off from work, whenever it is. (Usually the week before and/or the week after Columbus Day weekend) It was torture being stuck inside on beautiful days and knowing that my time was running out before the trees become bare and I need to hunker down for Maine’s 6 months of winter. (I don’t think that’s an exaggeration, as it has snowed in every month from late October through early November in the four years I’ve lived here) Cramming all of my adventures into the weekends or trying to get out and film something after work before the early sunsets was too stressful.
Next, I’m going to explore new areas. I covered pretty good ground this year, spending time in the Moosehead Lake Region, Katahdin Region, Down-East/Acadia and the Mid-Coast, though admittedly I was way too rushed in each area. Next year I want to spend more time in Western Maine, around Sugarloaf and Sunday River ski resorts. I went to Grafton Notch State Park last year and it was beautiful.
I would also like to spend more time on the Mid-Coast and in Southern Maine. I made it to Camden and got some nice video of the harbor, but then I realized that I left my camera bag with spare batteries on a dirt road in Bucksport where I had filmed Penobscot Narrows Bridge, a good hour away. Luckily my bag was still there, but driving an hour back to Camden and then an hour and a half back home would’ve rubbed salt in the wound. Unfortunately Camden Hills State Park is off limits for drones, as is every other state park in Maine, as well as Acadia National Park, but it’s a huge state and I’m sure I’ll find plenty more amazing places to capture from the air.
I’m going to spend the next month or so trying to update this blog with my past adventures, and then once the snow falls, I’ll set out to record my next video: Winter in Maine. At least that season is long enough to give me plenty of filming opportunities, as long as the drone doesn’t freeze up in midair. Can that happen? I hope not!