If you’re lucky enough to be in Maine with the intention of doing some rockhounding, I’m jealous! Maine is, without a doubt, the best state in New England for rock and mineral collectors thanks to the widespread, high-quality pegmatites that make up a large portion of the surface geology.
The gemstone production in Maine is world-famous for the wide variety and superior quality of pegmatite minerals like tourmaline, feldspar, garnet, and quartz. These minerals formed as part of widespread igneous intrusions, and were subsequently exposed by recent glacial activity which stripped away everything above them. Now, there are countless old mines and quarries in Maine, some of which are publicly accessible.
In addition to mines and quarries, there are countless old prospects and rocky outcrops which have long been frequented by collectors. You can also sometimes find interesting rocks like jasper and agates in the gravels of some public beaches.
The best places to rockhound in Maine are in old quarries and mines in the southwestern part of the state, particularly sites like Deer Hill, Lord Hill, Tamminen and Waisanen quarries, Mount Apatite, and Pingree Ledge quarry. Beaches along the Atlantic coast are also popular for collecting jasper and agates.
I’ll dive deeper into the types of material you can find here and exactly where you can being your search, along with a handy map and some additional resources to help you along the way.
Rocks and Minerals Found in Maine
Maine is home to quite a wide variety of rocks and minerals and, as a result, there there is almost no limit to the number of interesting material rockhounds can find here.
The large variety of gemstones and minerals found in Maine is almost entirely attributable to the world-class pegmatites that comprise a large portion of the surface geology. Ancient volcanic and metamorphic rocks have been worn down by recent glaciation and subsequent weathering from rivers and streams have exposed interesting gemstones and minerals for us to find.
These pegmatites are essentially volcanic intrusions with unusually large crystals and they make for the perfect source rock for collectors. In Maine, they are typically made up of desirable crystals like feldspars, garnet, quartz, and various species of tourmaline.
The most commonly found and collected rocks and minerals in Maine are:
Where to Rockhound in Maine
Through quite a bit of research and cross-referencing of available literature, I have compiled this list of some prospective locations in Maine which I would recommend to people looking to do some rockhounding. These are mostly comprised of beaches, outcrops, old mining prospects, washes, streams, and historically known rock and mineral collecting sites. For additional reading, I’d highly recommend these books you can find on Amazon:
Please remember that rock collecting locations are constantly changing. Specimens may become depleted from other collectors, the location may have been built on or altered, locality information in literature may be inaccurate, and property ownership may have changed hands. Please note that I have not been to these locations. I have found records of these rockhounding sites over a variety of sources and offer these locations as a place to start searching. I cannot personally attest to the accuracy of the given locations or the quality of the material there.
Joining up with a local rockhounding club for a group trip can often get you access to otherwise off-limits locations like privately owned mines and quarries. There are several rockhounding clubs in Maine so you can most likely find one you like nearby.
I have tried to take care not to list locations within National Park boundaries since collecting is illegal there, but please remember that it is up to you to make sure you have permission to collect wherever you are. Even if you are on land that is generally open for public use there may be privately owned mining claims inside those boundaries and you’ll need to get permission to collect on that location.
Though there are many locations listed here, this list is far from exhaustive. A location’s listing here is not a guarantee of accuracy. Be safe, never go underground, and make sure to get permission from the landowner to search for and collect specimens.
If you’re planning on heading to the field, make sure you have all the gear you’ll need! To get started, you can check out my recommended gear page which contains my full reviews for every Geologist’s favorite rock hammer and the best hiking backpack I’ve ever owned.
Many of the best rockhounding sites in Maine are privately owned. Some are commercially operated mines and quarries, and gaining permission to collect on any of these properties is, as always, absolutely essential. Some are open to the public for collecting at select times of the week, often on weekends. I will have more information on how to check property ownership status later in this article.
Maine Rockhounding Sites
The Maine countryside is absolutely riddled with old mines and quarries which have historically targeted the pegmatite veins exposed by glaciation and erosion. These quarries and mines are prime targets for rockhounds looking to find high-quality specimens of desirable rocks and minerals because relatively fresh material has been exposed and the area has already been proven to be productive.
Fortunately, many of these old quarries are open to the public (to some degree or another) for collecting. Some require permits or permission, some charge a small fee, and still others are open with little to no restrictions aside from treating the site with respect. Many sites that used to be popular with rockhounds are now closed, including the sites listed here.
Tip: Check out my Complete Rockhounding Guide for tips on planning your rockhounding trip and getting the most out of your time in the field!
Among the more popular locations with collectors are Mount Apatite, Lord Hill, and Deer Hill. These mineral collecting areas are relatively easy to access and offer a wide variety of rocks and minerals including albite, tourmaline, amethyst, feldspar, and quartz. There are many other quarries and prospects (listed below) that are equally accessible to the public where you can find an even wider range of specimens.
If you’re not particularly into hard-rock collecting or digging around in quarries you can also do some beach combing on public beaches. The aptly-named Jasper Beach near Bucks Harbor is a great place to find some colorful jasper pebbles, and Loring Cove near Perry is known to turn up agates and other minerals like bloodstone and amethyst.
|Location & Details||Rocks & Minerals|
|Perry, in gravels at Loring Cove||Analcime, Calcite, Datolite, Malachite, Prehnite, Agate, Amethyst, Bloodstone, Chalcedony, Quartz, Stilbite|
|Lubec Lead Mine, near Lubec||Anglesite, Bornite, Calcite, Cerussite, Chalcopyrite, Dolomite, Epidote, Galena, Goethite, Hematite, Limonite, Malachite, Pyrite, Quartz, Smithsonite, Wulfenite, etc.|
|Jasper Beach, near Bucks Harbor||Jasper (reddish)|
|Catherine Mountain, on a prospect||Molybdenite (plates), Granite, Quartz crystals, Biotite, Fluorapatite, Hornblende, Magnetite, Microcline, Pyrite, Scheelite, Stilbite, etc.|
|Warren Nickel Prospect, near South Union||Pyrrhotite, Chalcopyrite|
|Edgecomb Quarry||Garnet (almandine), Beryl, Aquamarine, Biotite, Feldspar, Muscovite, Quartz (smoky, milky)|
|Havey, Trenton, Square Pit, and Alice Staples Quarries near Topsham||Albite, Garnet (almandine), Geryl, Biotite, Columbite, Mica, Aquamarine, Chalcopyrite, Schorl, Quartz, Zircon, Elbaite, Thorogummite, etc.|
|Porcupine Hill Quarry, near Topsham||Albite, Garnet (almandine), Beryl, Biotite, Columbite, Tourmaline (green elbaite), Fluorapatite, Quartz crystals, Schorl|
|Acton Lead Mines||Andalusite, Arsenopyrite, Bornite, Chalcopyrite, Galena, Goethite, Gold, Pyrite, Pyrrhotite, Quartz, Silver, Sphalerite|
|Bemis Stream Prospect, N of Byron||Albite, Beryl, Tourmaline (green elbaite), Fluorapatite (blue, purple), Feldspar, Mica, Quartz, Garnet (spessartine), Sphalerite, Spodumene (crystals), etc.|
|Swift River, in placers near Byron||Gold, Garnet, Magnetite, Scheelite, Staurolite|
|Hedgehog Hill Quarry, near Peru||Albite, Garnet (almandine), Beryl, Mica, Chrysoberyl, Fluorapatite, Feldspar, Quartz (milky, smoky), Schrol|
|Ragged Jack Mountain||Garnet (almandine), Chrysoberyl, Fluorapatite, Feldspar, Mica, Quartz, Schorl|
|Deer Hill Mineral Collecting Area||Amethyst, Feldspar, Beryl, Garnet, Columbite, Pyrite, Muscovite|
|Lord Hill Mineral Collecting Area||Feldspar, Quartz, Topaz, Phenakite, Garnet, etc.|
|Cole Quarry on Adams Mountain||Albite, Garnet (almandine), Autunite, Beryl, Mica, Columbite, Fluorapatite, Feldspar, Pyrite, Pyrrhotite, Quartz (milky, smoky), Sphalerite, Zircon, etc.|
|Pingree Ledge Quarry, near Albany||Albite, Garnet (almandine), Beryl (green, golden), Mica, Columbite, Fluorapatite (clear, green, purple), Fluorite, Feldspar, Quartz crystals (clear, milky, smoky), Schorl, etc.|
|Bumpus Quarry, near Albany||Albite, Garnet (almandine), Autunite, Beryl (golden), Aquamarine, Mica, Columbite, Fluorapatite, Feldspar, Quartz (milky, rose, smoky), Schorl, Zircon, etc.|
|Scribner Ledge Quarry, near Albany||Albite, Garnet (almandine), Autunite, Beryl (green, yellow), Mica, Columbite, Fluorapatite, Quartz (milky, rose, smoky), Schorl, etc.|
|Heikkinen Quarry, near Greenwood||Albite, Garnet (almandine), Autunite, Beryl, Biotite, Columbite, Kasolite, Felspar, Mica, Opal (hyalite), Pyrite, Schorl, Zircon|
|Harvard, Tamminen, and Waisanen Quarries, near Greenwood||Albite, Garnet (almandine), Arsenopyrite, Beryl, Mica, Calcite, Cookeite, Fluorapatite (purple, blue), Lepidolite, Quartz, Schorl, Spodumene, Topaz, Zircon, etc.|
|Ryerson Hill Quarry & Crocker Hill Mines, near Paris||Graphite, Molybdenite, Pyrite, Quartz (clear, milky), Sericite, Albite, Garnet (almandine), Arsenopyrite, Beryl, Columbite, Feldspar, Schorl, etc.|
|Singepole Mountain Quarry, near Paris||Garnet (almandine), Beryl, Biotite, Fluorapatite, Microcline, Muscovite, Quartz, Schorl|
|Pitts Garnet Mine, near Minot||Actinolite, Calcite, Diopside, Garnet (grossular), Molybdenite, Quartz, Titanite, Clinozoisite, Clinochlore, Beryl, Feldspar, Muscovite, etc.|
|Mount Apatite Quarries, near Auburn||Albite, Garnet (almandine), Arsenopyrite, Autunite, Beryl (green, pink), Aquamarine, Biotite, Tourmaline (green Elbaite), Fluorapatite, Lepidolite, Pyrite, Quartz, Rhodochrosite, etc.|
|Baldpate Mountain, in pegmatites and float||Aquamarine|
|Gleason Cove, in gravels near Perry||Jasper|
|Poland Mining Camps (fee)||Quartz, Feldspar, Beryl, Mica, Tourmaline|
Maine Rockhounding Laws & Regulations
One of the most common questions rockhounds have is whether or not they are allowed to collect at a certain location. It is the responsibility of each rockhound to obtain permission from a landowner to search and/or collect on a piece of property.
The ownership and status of land can and does change frequently, making it impossible to document accurate information for every location on this page. However, I have compiled a list of resources here so that you may investigate and obtain permission for any locations (found here or elsewhere) for yourself.
Public Land Resources
I have written entire articles which cover the rockhounding laws and regulations for nearly every type of public land you can think of. I encourage you to check them out if you are curious about the legalities of rock and mineral collecting.
- Rockhounding on Public Land: Laws and Regulations
- Can You Collect Rocks in State Parks? All 50 States Answered
To determine what type of public land a particular location is on, I would recommend starting with the recreational lands map from the Maine Department of Conservation.
Here are some additional resources to help you check on land ownership and mineral claims:
- US Forest Service Interactive Map
- BLM’s Mineral Land and Records System – to check for mineral claims
Private Land Resources
As with most states, each county in Maine will have records of who owns each piece of property. You can also usually get the landowner’s name and address by visiting the county records office. I would probably start by doing a property records search and getting whatever contact information you can for the landowner.
Sources & Further Reading
The locations and information contained in this article are primarily derived from academic papers, online resources, and other outside sources. If you would like to read some of the source material for yourself I have listed them below. The majority of these locations are my interpretation of Robert Beste’s A Location Guide for Rock Hounds in the United States. Other sources include:
- Mineral Resources Data System
- USFS Rockhounding in Maine
- A Collector’s Guide to Maine Mineral Localities, Thompson, Joyner, Woodman & King
- Maine Geological Survey
- Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry
- Mineral Collecting in Maine
- Dig Me. The Great State of Maine Minerals and Gems
This post is part of my State-By-State Rockhounding Guides series. Please check out more states for thousands of additional sites to go rockhounding!