Enjoy Your Maine Lands
Maine’s state parks are well-marked on most tourist maps so they tend to attract sometimes sizable crowds. But take heart; if you’re looking for a quieter, more secluded outdoor experience this summer, other options are available. For a start you might consider the twenty-eight “units” of the Public Reserved Lands system. These state-owned parcels total almost half a million acres of forest, rivers, lakes, streams, and coast. Recreational opportunities abound at these sites, including camping, boating, hiking, and fishing, and as a rule, you won’t need to pay to use them. Here are ten units worth exploring. For more information, call 207-287-3821. Or visit the Bureau of Parks and Land’s Web site www.state.me.us/doc/parks
Chain of Ponds
The Chain of Ponds Unit includes Natanis, Long, Bag, and Lower ponds linked by short thoroughfares to form the “chain.” The unit fronts each of these ponds and offers lakeshore camping at remote sites or at a commercial campground. 207-778-8231.
Cutler Coast on Washington County’s “Bold Coast” contains almost five miles of dramatic cliff-bound ocean shore. Hiking trails skirt the cliffs — providing access to remote hike-in campsites — then loop back to the trailhead through the stunted spruces, heaths, and grasslands of the interior. 207-827-5936.
Donnell Pond in Hancock County encompasses miles of shoreline on Donnell Pond, Tunk, and Spring River lakes; and most of Schoodic, Black, and Caribou Mountains. Visitors to the unit can hike, boat, swim, and fish, and there are campsites accessible by foot or water along the lakeshores. 207-827-5936.
Located in Hancock County, just seventy miles northeast of Bangor, the Duck Lake Unit contains 25,200 acres of rolling, wooded terrain and a large number of lakes and streams. A stand of cathedral-like red and white pines, managed as an old-growth preserve, is located east of Gassabias. Call 207-827-5936.
The Eagle Lake Unit in northern Aroostook County includes most of Eagle Lake and part of Square Lake, as well as the thoroughfare connecting the two bodies. Fishing, boating, and camping are all popular activities here. 207-827-5936.
Gero Island, a large island in Chesuncook Lake, is a popular stopping place for canoeists paddling the West Branch of the Penobscot River and for anglers trolling the lake for togue. Campsites dot the island’s shores. The unit includes most of the historic Chesuncook Village on the lake’s northwestern shore. Water access only. 207-435-7966.
Located a few miles southwest of Jackman and accessed via the portage trail from Attean Pond, the 20,000-acre Holeb Unit includes most of the Moose River Bow Trip, making it a popular summer destination for paddlers. Most of the shores on Attean and Holeb Ponds and a significant stretch of the Moose River, including the spectacular Holeb Falls, lie within the unit. 207-778-4111.
Named for the Mahoosuc Mountain Range in western Maine, this 27,000-acre unit extends on either side of Grafton Notch State Park. Some of the most challenging hiking offered by the Appalachian Trail occurs along these rugged mountains, but the views above the timberline are breathtaking. 207-778-4111.
The Richardson Unit consists of 22,000 acres between Upper Richardson and Mooselookmeguntic lakes in the Rangeley Lakes region of western Maine. Boating, hiking, and camping are popular activities here, but the area is probably most famous for its fishing; brook trout, togue, and landlocked salmon are abundant. Campsites are accessible only by boat and require registrations and a small fee. 207-778-4111.
Surrounding Telos Lake and the southern end of Chamberlain Lake, the Telos Unit is the most popular starting point for canoeists embarking on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. Camping is available on Coffelos Pond: A favorite spot for anglers. 207-435-7966.