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DC to Blue Hill via Amtrak - any experience? alternatives?

San Antonio, Texas
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DC to Blue Hill via Amtrak - any experience? alternatives?

I'm trying to plan a trip to Blue Hill, Maine later this year - hopefully via Amtrak. It's a bit of a challenge. I'll fly if I have to, but would prefer to do something a bit more relaxed where you have the feel of really going somewhere. Seems a bit too far for a road trip, esp if there's snow. So - the train idea.

Seems the closest I can get to my friend's house (in Blue Hill) via Amtrak would be Belfast, which would be doable. It looks like it could be done in one long trip via an overnight train from DC to Boston, then on arrival in Boston in the morning, transfer to the Downeaster which goes to Portland where they transfer you to a bus to go to Belfast. That would be a good option if Amtrak had a sleeper on the DC to Boston route but for some reason they don't. (What's that about?)

Since Amtrak isn't always on time anyway, I wonder if it would be better to not try to do the redeye from DC, but do the trip in two day legs, with an overnight in Boston.

Also, would I be better off trying to find a bus to Maine from Boston that could get me to Blue Hill?

I don't mind making the trip itself part of the adventure.

Any advice appreciated -- (even if it's just "give it up and fly")


Central Maine
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1. Re: DC to Blue Hill via Amtrak - any experience? alternatives?

None of the available options that I know of are going to get you directly to Blue Hill.....without one or more overnights along the way.

The Amtrak route via Boston to Portland and bus from there, that you already mention, is one possibility. That would get you to Belfast, which is still a ways from Blue Hill.

Another possibility might be Amtrak to Boston, then Concord Trailways bus to either Belfast or Bangor. Your friend would still need to meet you in Belfast if you went that way. The other option is a Concord Trailways bus from Boston to Bangor (believe there are at least four trips each day). From Bangor there is a regional bus service calls West's Transportation that makes one round trip per day between downeast coastal Maine and Bangor, that includes a stop in Ellsworth, which might be closer if your friend is coming to meet you. Belfast is about 35 miles from Blue Hill; Ellsworth is about 15 miles if that helps with your planning.

Flying into Maine probably isn't going to help much as far as getting to your ultimate destination is concerned....although it could save some travel time if that becomes an issue. Maine two largets airports are in Portland and Bangor -- Portland doesn't help solve your problem any more than getting to Portland by train or bus would -- you still have to get from Portland to somewhere close to Blue Hill. Bangor isn't much better except that, with the right air connection, you might get into Bangor in time to catch the West Bus to Ellsworth that same day. The two other air possibilities -- regional airports outside Rockland and Bar Harbor won't really help much either because they're both further from Blue Hill than you can get by bus.

Many, many small coastal communities in Maine simply don't have the population to support any form of public transportation -- making getting to them a real challenge.

I'd discuss the options with your friend and see which makes the most sense as far as where they can/want to pick you up after you get as far as you can by train, train/bus or bus.

2. Re: DC to Blue Hill via Amtrak - any experience? alternatives?

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