Posts Tagged ‘Maine Huts & Trails’

Newsy bits and pieces from all over Maine

June 3, 2010

TONIGHT: It’s not too late to Eat for Pete’s Sake, a Humane Society of Knox County fund raiser to benefit homeless animals . See previous posting.

FREE! Don’t you love that word? The National Park Service has waived entrance fees to Acadia National Park this weekend, June 5 and 6, as well as Aug. 14-15, Sept. 25, and Nov. 1. Saturday, June 5, is National Trails Day, so go hike one of the park’s rehabbed classics in its honor.

CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION: “Winslow Homer and the Poetics of Place” opens at the Portland Museum of Art on June 5 and remains on display through Sept. 6. The exhibit, in honor of the centennial of Homer’s death, showcases PMA’s collection of about 20 watercolors and oils by the noted artist. It’s the first time since 1988 that all the works will be on view in the Charles Shipman Payson building. The museum owns Homer’s Prouts Neck studio, which is undergoing restoration and expected to reopen in 2012.

HUT, TWO, THREEMaine Huts & Trails has begun construction on its third full-service, back-country hut. This one’s about two miles below Grand Falls on the Dead River, and will be accessible by foot, bike, ski/snowshoe, and self-propelled boat .  “Construction of Grand Falls Hut, more than 15 miles of new trails and a spectacular 200-foot pedestrian bridge over the Dead River completes the first phase of our vision,” Herring said.

ISLAND ESCAPE: Nebo Lodge, on North Haven Island, has undergone a renovation and expansion, which included the addition of a new bar and fireplace, new deck and courtyard, new entryway, enlarged kitchen, expansion of two guest rooms. The lodge, owned by congresswoman Chellie Pingree, is open to the public for dinner. Its teamed with Equinox Island Transport to offer roundtrip transportation on the last two Fridays in June, and every Thursday in July and August. Depart Rockland, have dinner, and return the same evening; transportation is $20 pp. 

TWEET! Aroostook State Park is hosting a Birding Festival, Saturday, June 12. Highlights include: guided hikes led by seven of Maine’s top bird; birding by boat from Echo Lake; a live-bird demonstration of raptors; bird-house building for youngsters; and a group of artisan wood carvers demonstrating nature and bird carving. According to Park Manager Scott Thompson, this year’s festival emphasizes diverse birding experiences. “We’re here for more than just fishing and hiking; there’s a whole world of nature to explore and to learn how this park relates to Maine and the park system.”

FEELING BLUE? You might want to ink the Saddleback Bluegrass Festival on your calendar for the weekend of Aug. 6-8. Featured performers on Saturday include: The Jerks of Grass; Darol Anger, Scott Law, Sharon Gilchrist and Sam Grisman; The Stowaways; The Infamous Stringdusters; Mason Strunk; The David Grisman Bluegrass Experience; and The Del McCoury Band. Additional performances over the weekend will include The Mueller Family and Erica Brown & The Bluegrass Connection.

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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.

Ways to play in inland Maine

June 26, 2009

IMG_3520_3If you think Maine is all about the coast, you need to venture inland and discover the lakes, rivers, woods, and peaks that define the region between Bethel and Millinocket. Not only does this region rival the coast for natural beauty, it’s also wildlife rich. You won’t see a puffin, but you’re chances of spotting a moose are high.

Making that easy is the new Maine Woods Discovery program, a collaborative venture by Alpine resorts Sunday River, Sugarloaf, and Saddleback Maine; the rustic lodges and nature-based programs of the Appalachian Mountain Club and Maine Huts & Trails; and rafting and recreation outfitters Northern Outdoors, and New England Outdoor Center.

These entities have put together seven one- to three-day packages, each combining accommodations with activities and some meals, with rates beginning at $75 per person.  Packages include geo-caching, hiking, biking, paddling, rock-hounding, and craft-making. Read on for details.

Intro to Geocaching Adventure, 2 days/2 nights
Logdominium accommodations at Northern Outdoors Forks Resort Center on the Kennebec River. Learn the outdoor treasure hut adventure of geocaching with a GPS device. Search for hidden caches on the Northern Outdoors grounds, and do more hunting along the Old Canada Road National Scenic Byway. Complementary Old Canada Road historical audio CD. $108 per adult, $95 per child.

Outdoor Sporting Heritage, 3 days/3 nights

Stay at the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Little Lyford Lodge and Camps or Medawisla Wilderness Lodge within the 100 Mile Wilderness area of the Appalachian Trail. Complementary use of canoes, kayaks and fly fishing gear. Hike to Gulf Hagas gorge on the West Branch of the Penobscot River. Includes all meals and tickets for the Katahdin Steamship tour on Moosehead Lake. $318 per person.

Legendary Fly Fishing, 2 days/2 nights
Accommodations at a Saddleback Maine mountain-side condominium. Three-hour fly fishing lesson and use of a canoe to cast a line on the Rangeley region’s famous waterways. One complementary lunch, a Northern Forest Canoe Trailmap of the Rangeley Lakes area, and a copy of “Paddling Through Time: The Story of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail” included. $530 per couple.

The Valley Below, 3 days/2nights
Accommodations at the Maine Huts & Trails Flagstaff Lake Hut. Pontoon boat tour on the lake to learn about the submerged townships of Flagstaff, Bigelow and Dead River. Explore the lakeside loop trails, or tackle the 4,000-foot peaks of the Bigelow Mountain Range. Includes all meals, the Valley Below brochure, a Northern Forest Canoe Trail map of Flagstaff Lake, and a copy of “Paddling Through Time: The Story of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail.” $265 per person.

Maine Rocks!, 1 day/1 night
Accommodations at Sunday River’s Grand Summit or Jordan Grand Hotel in Newry. Guided geology tour, talk and digging opportunity at the Bumpus Mine, one of the oldest and most famous mineral mines in the northeast. Includes breakfast. Extend the package with an Androscoggin River trip or ATV tour. $75 per person.

View From the Top, 1 day/1 night
Make the Sugarloaf Mountain Hotel your base for hiking or mountain biking. Complementary hiking and nature trail maps for the Longfellow Mountain Range. Guided hikes can be arranged. Breakfast and box lunch included. $75 per person.

Making it By Hand, 3 days/2 nights

The New England Outdoor Center’s Twin Pine Camps in Millinocket is the setting for a series of fall Craft Weekends. Sessions on making art from wood, sculpting with clay, and quarrying and polishing gemstones include instructive lectures, guided trips to learn about and gather raw materials, and hands on crafting. Includes all breakfasts, one lunch, one dinner and use of canoes. $232.50 per person.