If there is one memorably epic place you should visit in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, that has nothing to do with lighthouses or lobsters, it’s the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. This amazing place is one stop that both kids and adults will never forget.
Once you meander up the long driveway and find a parking spot, it’s just a short walk to the building, where you will step inside to purchase your tickets. Even if the line is long, it moves along at a fair pace.
Once you step through the doors into the gardens just past the gift shop, you will see a bridge in front of you. This bridge will take you on a scavenger hunt-style adventure you are unlikely ever to forget. It’s an adventure for kids and adults alike. Just make sure you are wearing some good shoes because the hike can get a bit steep and uneven at some spots.
With your ticket, you’ll get a map of the park. I promise it’s not as big as it looks. At least not the area with the trolls. I’ll explain more a little further on.
Cross the bridge, and you’re on your way to finding your first troll, Roskva. He is one of many trolls that are placed around the world. Maine is lucky enough to have 5 of them at this location.
Roskva is a gentle giant who can be a little intimidating at first, but you’ll realize pretty quickly he loves a hug, especially when his picture is being taken. While you are not allowed to climb on the trolls, you can certainly walk up to them, touch them, and take photos with them. That’s half the fun!
Once you have found this first troll, the rest are a bit further spread out. But it’s nothing most kids or adults can’t handle. Though I will mention, wheelchairs won’t make it far on the unpaved portions of the park, though you can make it to the first troll. After that, the ground gets pretty uneven.
However, they do have accessible golf cart tours that will show you much of the park. So while you might not make it to the most rustic part of the woods, you’ll still be able to enjoy the park.
I should also mention that there is a lot more to this park than what I’ll cover here. You can check out their website to get the full scope of things.
While the order in which you see the trolls is up to you, you’ll most likely see Lilja next. This sweet little babe is just begging for a welcoming hug.
At this point, you’ll probably look at the map and wonder if you can make it to the next few trolls. But I promise you can. While the path gets a bit steep, it’s not bad if you are able-bodied.
Once you have hiked for a bit through beautiful forested areas, you’ll most likely come across Birk next. This old gentleman giant is resting among the trees, showing off his toes for all to see. Some kids were taking humorous photos crouched beneath his foot like he was about to stomp on them. It was a cute photo to take.
Next, you’ll most likely be going a bit more uphill. Depending on which route you take, you can get a good workout. We took the trail through the woods instead of the path, and we were definitely huffing and puffing up the hill. But it was a great hike, and we truly enjoyed the fantastic woods. Then we turned a corner and ran into this fun fella, Soren.
We took a few candid shots before heading on to the last troll in the park.
It’s worth mentioning the scavenger hunt portion of the hike here. Each statue has a plaque near it that gives a clue to a riddle that comes with the map they give you. Once you solve the riddle, it will tell you the last place to go on the map to find the “secret of the seeds.”
While this is fun in theory, be aware that hiking to the final location is not for small children, especially if they have made it all the way through seeing all five trolls. They simply won’t make it all the way to the “secret”. But honestly, after seeing the tolls, the secret is a bit anticlimactic, though heartfelt. At the final destination, you find a message about the seeds. There are a few large, metal-sculpted seeds on stumps in the middle of the woods, but that’s it. There is no final troll to see there. I won’t give away the secret, but it’s simply a message about the seeds.
While this is a great hike for adults, it will take you outside of some gates into woods that give you the feeling you are out in the middle of nowhere. It’s very quiet. When we went, we were the only two people in that part of the park. The hike itself isn’t steep, but it’s quite uneven in some spots. Definitely not a place you could get to with a wheelchair or stroller. At least not the way we went. If you don’t have kids, it’s worth the hike just to enjoy the beauty. If you do have kids, I recommend skipping this last part.
But I digress.
We made it to the last troll in the park, Gro. This meditative guy was a lot of fun to take pictures with. A few folks even got down in front of him and meditated with him. It was a peaceful spot, to be sure.
Along the way, we also crossed through the Fairy Garden. This is a great pitstop for the kids. They can explore all the fairy houses and even build one themselves. There are a lot of ancient-looking stones with carvings in them that add to the mystique of the spot. You’ll even see a fairy door in one of the large rocks there as well.
At the back end of the park, about 3/4 of the way through, you’ll find yourself walking along the river. It’s a beautiful spot with a few places to sit and contemplate life.
In the Garden of the Five Senses, you can find a Labyrinth that is fun to walk. Some folks took off their shoes to walk the path. But I found that the rocks were too hard on my feet. So we walked the meditative path with our shoes on. Not very zen of us, but we enjoyed ourselves.
Lastly, we went into the butterfly garden. While none of the butterflies landed on us, it was a beautifully serene area with gorgeous butterflies of many varieties. However, I will say you have to watch your step because the butterflies love to land on the pathway where people walk. So tread carefully!
All in all, I highly recommend this spot in Boothbay Harbor. If you go early in the morning, you can complete the entire hike (with the final spot included) in about 3 hours if you don’t stop for too long at each troll. After a rigorous morning hike, you can go into town and enjoy some delicious food and an afternoon of shopping in beautiful Boothbay Harbor. While it’s a very touristic town, it’s definitely worth at least one afternoon. It’s a smaller town, so you really don’t need more than that to do the basics.
I hope you enjoyed my little tour through the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. Please let me know if there is anything else you’d like to know about the park in a comment below.