This adventure starts out off the coast of Maine on the beautiful Mt Desert Island. Mt Desert (pronounced “Dessert'' by locals) is the largest Island in Maine, the second largest on the Eastern U.S. coastline and home to Acadia National Park. The French explorer Champlain named the island “Isle des Monts Desert'' or “island of barren mountains”, upon his arrival in 1604. The island was created by Glaciers thousands of years ago and was originally inhabited by the Algonquin Abnaki or Wabanaki Native tribes as far as 12,000 years ago. Acadia is home to an abundance of habitats, granite mountains, lakes and forests, an unforgettable coastline and a rich cultural heritage bordered by picturesque villages with something to offer every traveler looking for adventure. There is a rich Native history and culture here which can be fully appreciated and explored at the Abbe History museum within the park. The park's history began in 1916 as a National monument and today is one of the most visited National parks in the North Eastern U.S.. Adventurers visiting Acadia can look forward to camping, hiking, fishing, stargazing and wildlife watching. Make sure to check for camping information ahead of your visit. Acadia is also known as a dog friendly national park, all pet rules must be followed for everyone's benefit, they even have “the Bark Ranger” program for dogs and their owners.
Lily Bay State Park
Heading northeast from Acadia about 125 miles, roughly 3 hours is Lily Bay State Park. The park opens at 9:00am and closes at sunset. Moosehead Lake in this park is the largest in Maine, it encompasses nearly 120 square miles of water and hundreds of shoreline miles. The park is a total of 925 acres with an abundance of wildlife watching, camping, fishing, boating and hiking adventures for everyone. Trails are also available for snowshoeing and skiing during winter months while others may be attracted to ice fishing and snowmobiling. Call the park for winter hours. Plenty of park amenities(but no RV hookups) and waterfront camping for both tent and RV, make this park a favorite. For a great family style adventure make sure you check out the world famous Steamboat Katahdin cruise for a Moosehead lake excursion!
Mount Kineo State Park
For a day trip or hiking adventure the journey across Moosehead lake to Mount Kineo State Park is highly recommended. The park is an isolated peninsula covering 1150 acres of forest and shorelines with an impressive 800 foot cliff above the lake. You can travel by boat or car to the park. There is no direct road access to Mt Kineo but a shuttle service is available from the town of Rockwood during the summer. Camping is very limited but there is lodging adjacent to the park area if you want to stay awhile. The park offers spectacular landscape and breathtaking views worth seeing.
Baxter State Park
Next stop on the adventure is Baxter State Park and Mount Katahdin about 2 hours Northwest of Lily Bay. Brace yourself for a vast wilderness area over 209,000 mountainous acres and 220 plus miles of trails. Percival P Baxter donated 6000 acres, including Katahdin, along with a large trust to the state of Maine in 1930 and began the creation of this park. Baxter State Park is designed as a place to walk, hike and explore. Roads and campsites are limited and require reservations through the park. Trails are numerous and feature something for almost everyone with canoeing, kayaking and backcountry adventures! Be sure to stop at the visitors center for information on what to see and do, while you are there enjoy a swim at Togue Pond beach.
Named by the Penobscot Natives, Katahdin means” greatest mountain”. Access to Katahdin is limited so plan ahead if you plan on exploring this area. Katahdin is a very strenuous 8 -12 hour hike round trip. Baxter Peak on Mt Katahdin is the northern terminus for the Appalachian trail and is also the start of the International Appalachian trail. Whether it is peaceful wildlife viewing and landscapes or daring and adventurous climbing, there is something here for everyone. Plan ahead and call for information. No pets in this park!
Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge
Moosehorn National wildlife refuge is our next destination. The Refuge is a diverse landscape of shorelines, lakes, hills, wetlands, numerous species of trees and a multitude of wildlife that covers about 30,000 acres. The refuge is designated as national wilderness with areas that restrict mechanical transportation through certain areas. The refuge has been credited and identified by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry as having some of the oldest forests in Maine. There are interests and activities for all types of adventurers at Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge including fishing, hunting, hiking, wildlife viewing, and photography. Moosehorn also has a few easy hikes and even provides a short paved trail for handicapped accessibility. Every age group can experience some of the outdoors here.
St. Croix International Historic Site
Heading down the coastline, St Croix International Historic site lies along the border with our northern neighbors. One of the earliest sites of western expansion of Europeans, the french stopped here in 1604. This was several years before the pilgrims at Plymouth and the settlers were nearly wiped out by a harsh winter. Luckily the native Passamaquoddy tribes were able to help the settlers survive the winter and move on. In 1984 the island was designated as an international site in recognition of its historic importance to both the U.S. and Canada. There is no access to the small island itself and travel to it is discouraged, everything is located on an adjacent shoreline. There are no fees here and it is open year round with daylight hours. You will find information at the visitors center as well as the start of a short paved interpretive trail.This is a great place to do some birdwatching, relax and enjoy the scenery.
Quoddy Head State Park
Quoddy Head State Park is our last adventure about an hour away from Moosehorn towards the most northeastern tip of the U.S. Lat 44.816200/Lon-66.952943. It is named for the Native American “people of the dawn” or Passamaquoddy tribe and means “fertile and beautiful place”. The lighthouse is one of 63 active lights in Maine and was originally commissioned by Thomas Jefferson in the early 1800s. The lighthouse property sits on a 541 acre peninsula of the Eastern most point in the U.S. The park offers a small museum and its facilities are open May through mid- October with a small day use fee. You can enjoy about 5 miles of scenic nature trails and an abundance of wildlife watching by land and sea. There are some easy to moderate trails for everyone as well as some wheelchair access on limited trails. Quoddy is a great place for a summer picnic while you keep an eye out for passing whales in the surrounding ocean channel. There is no camping here and pets must be on a leash.
Most of Maine's parks are open year round and feature many opportunities for whatever season you may wish to travel. Many parks require a fee or a pass and presently many state parks across the country may require advanced reservations. There are several parks we missed along the way so be sure and check out a map and list of parks in your area as you travel. Be sure to call and/or check websites for each location you decide to visit. Above all, enjoy your adventure in the beautiful and diverse state of Maine.