Posts Tagged ‘Carrabassett Valley’

A spring hike into Poplar Stream Falls

April 24, 2010

April’s a great month to hike in Maine: No bugs, cooler weather, raging waterfalls, and few other folks along the trail. Today we hiked into Poplar Stream Falls, a relatively easy, roughly 5 mile round trip, from the trailhead in  Carrabassett Valley.

We parked in the Maine Huts & Trails parking lot (signed off Route 27), then began on the Maine Huts trail, but opting for the side loops, first along the stream and then to the falls. Yes, the trail’s wet and muddy in places, but nothing that forced us to stop, no long stretches or deep, wide puddles.

The reward? Poplar Stream Falls, site of actually two lovely torrents, and rated a 4.5 out of 5 by Greg Parsons and Kate Watson in New England Waterfalls. South Brook fall drops 24 feet; Poplar Stream Falls plunges a far more impressive 51 feet. A fallen tree, just out of the reach of Poplar Stream Falls’ spray, provided a perfect perch for scarfing down our picnic lunch.

Maine Huts’ Poplar Stream Hut is closed for mud season, but will open again in a few weeks (check with the organization for the date), and after a few weeks of self-serve operation, it will be serving meals again, so that’s a fine alternative for lunch in season. But go now, and have the trail practically to yourselves. On a bluebird Saturday, we ran into only two other people, and both were on the Maine Huts trail, on which we closed the loop back to the parking lot.

Kudus to Maine Huts & Trails

March 15, 2010

This weekend, I hiked into the Flagstaff Lake Hut of the Maine Huts & Trails network for a quick overnight and to present Dave Herring (left), executive director of Maine Huts, with the Society of American Travel Writers Phoenix award. As a writer who specializes in Maine and who strives to get readers off the beaten path—beyond the chain motels and fast-food joints—to experience and discover the real Maine, I was particularly pleased to present this award.

Back in 1969, S.A.T.W. realized that tourism leaves  footprints, some harmful to the environment, others—such as when we love a place too much—destroy the very reasons for travel. The Phoenix Award recognizes conservation, preservation, beautification, and antipollution accomplishments related to travel, and no place is more deserving than Maine Huts & Trails.

When completed, the 8-foot-wide human-powered/multi-use trail through Maine’s woods, lakes, and rivers will stretch 180 miles, from Newry in the Mahoosuc Mountains to Greenvile, on the shores of Moosehead Lake. Full-service, alternative-powered off-the-grid huts, spaced roughly every 10-12 miles or a day’s hike apart, offer comfy beds, hot showers, and delicious all-you-can-eat meals. The trail is open to bikes, skis, snowshoes, and foot, as well as, in some locations, canoes, kayaks, and rafts.

To date, two huts have been completed, one at Poplar Falls, a bit over two miles from the trailhead in Carrabassett Valley, and the second on the shores of Flagstaff Lake, just shy of two miles from the Long Falls Dam Road trailhead, or a good day’s hike or ski from Poplar.

Previously, I’ve hiked into Poplar; the hike into Flagstaff is far easier, opening up the experience to far more folks (one can even go in over the construction road, shortening it to just over one mile); in summer, it’s even a lunch (with option for overnight) stop on a pontoon-boat tour of Flagstff lake. The third hut, sited on Grand Falls of the Dead River, is awaiting final permits and fund raising, but construction is slated to begin this year, perhaps as early as May.

Before the snow melts and the huts close for mud season (later this month), go in for a look-see. Hike, ski, or snowshoe in for lunch, if not an overnight. You’ll be amazed at what’s available:

• bunkrooms sleeping 2-8 outfitted with nice mattresses, pillows, and fleece blankets and heated to 60 degrees;

• dining hall, with woodstove, and a lounge, with leather furniture, games, and a few books;

• drying room for wet gear;

• restroom equipped with showers, composting toilets, and sinks.

You might be in the middle of the Maine woods, but you’re not really roughing it. Even beer and wine are available.

Go ahead, give it a try. Trust me, you might be a bit challenged, but you won’t be disappointed. Below is a just a sampling of what awaits along the trail.

NOTE: Top photo credit and copyright Carey Kish; all others credit and copyright Hilary Nangle.

Bunk rooms are bright, clean, and comfy.

All-you-can-eat family-style dinners might include roast turkey with all the fixings followed by linzer torte.

After dinner, relax by the woodstove.

A crew from the Wilderness House sports stores prepares to hit the trail in the morning.

Seth Wescott: double Olympic gold

February 16, 2010

Olympian Seth Wescott, who calls Maine’s Carrabassett Valley home, won his second Olympic Snowboardcross gold medal yesterday; he’d won the inaugural Olympic event in 2006. Seth is a western Maine mountain’s guy, his heart’s here and his home’s here, and he’s never forgotten his roots here. He’s an owner of The Rack, the restaurant and bar on Sugarloaf’s access road, which celebrated big time last night. There’s already a good display of Seth’s Olympic and other memorabilia on display, but that’ll probably grow when he returns from Vancouver. And, by the way, The Rack is one of the best places to catch him; either that or on the hill.

If you want to know a bit more about Seth, here are two articles worth a read.

Peggy Shinn, official blogger for the U.S. Team, talked with Seth after his win yesterday.

Rebecca Falzano interviewed Seth for Maine Home & Design‘s Jan.-Feb. issue.

A new gondy at the ‘loaf?

November 25, 2009

Just in case you’ve missed it, Seth Wescott’s proposal is all the buzz in Carrabassett Valley. The guy’s got it dialed, and if anyone can make it happen, he can. Two stories in the Irregular (one, two) give the background, and a video show’s Seth’s original presentation to the town.

Gotta like it.

Burger queen

March 31, 2009

Saturday night, a Bagburger. The Bag, at the base of Sugarloaf, has been perfecting the burger for 40 years, and it is a beeyootiful thing. I had one of the designer versions, this one with blue cheese. Yes, perfection; ditto for the curly fries that come with it.

Last night, a burger at the Jolly Drayman English Pub, at the Briar Lea in Bethel. $5 burger night, and although I love the Briar Lea and know its portions are generous, I was figuring something more in the slider size. Hah! This is the same burger served other nights for $8.95. A gorgeous, perfectly cooked, half-pounder served with lettuce, tomato, onion and a bountiful side of crispy-yet-tender fries. Yup, all for $5. That’s every Monday night; gotta like that.