We tent-camped at the Big Moose Inn and Campground, which was only about 15 minutes outside of Baxter State Park, very reasonably priced and (for the most part) very quiet - aside from when a bachelor party moved in for the weekend. The inn was a basically a minute walk from our campsite, and had sitting areas/free wifi which came in handy with googling driving directions, but other than that, we also enjoyed that there was no distracting cell phone service around the campground area. This campground was also situated between Millinocket and Ambejejus Lakes, which were true beautiful Maine lakes, with beautiful sunsets, deep blue water and the sound of loons.
A few campsite shots for fun:
This area of Maine holds a lot to do outdoors-wise and a lot to see! When we were planning our trip, all I wanted was to be able to 1) get a lot of sleep to catch up from camp 2) decompress and unplug from the "real" world and 3) be surrounded by fresh air, pine trees and mountains - and this certainly fit the bill. Mount Katahdin (which is the highest peak in Maine and marks the end of the Appalachian trail) is the most impressive thing Baxter State Park boasts, and though we had no intentions of climbing it, it was absolutely awe-inspiring to always be in its midst. Almost everywhere we went, there was beautiful sights of Katahdin, in all its glory, looming in the distance, with miles and miles of trees spread before it... but you'll see what I mean about that in a minute!
Before we even reached our destination of Millinocket, ME, we made a short pitstop on our drive up at the Wells National Estaurine Research Reserve in Wells, ME along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. For anyone who doesn't know - an estuary is the mouth of a river/the ocean where the tide meets the stream, so it's its own very interesting ecosystem! We did a short walk down through the estuaries and then out to the coast of the Atlantic, where there was some small tide pools, and you could honestly see for forever in every direction. It was beautiful, and very quiet and not at all populated. Highly recommend the visit.
Now, once we got into the Baxter State Park region - our first full day was spent doing just that: our first day in Baxter State Park! That day was spent doing a short hike to Cranberry Pond, a visit to the Stump Pond and Abol Pond parking areas (where we saw tons of tadpoles as well as two loons), and a hike on the Blueberry Ledges trail (which was not very ledge-y or blueberry-y... this trail was a bit of a bummer).
|Just outside the entrance to the park|
|Katahdin in the distance as you enter the park|
|Togue Pond when you first enter the park|
|Stump Pond (and Katahdin)|
Once on the trail, it crosses over a stream, and then joins up with the Appalachain trail for a brief period of time before splitting off to the waterfalls/official Gulf Hagas section. Once we got out there, we did a little waterfall exploring before finishing up our loop hike.
|Katahdin in the distance as we head for the trailhead|
Day three was one of my most favorite, because we got the chance to visit the newest, most recently protected National Monument - Katahdin Woods and Waters. Katahdin Woods and Waters features a few trails and opportunities for recreation, but the main thing that's a "must do" is to drive the 16 mile loop road around the area and take in the many view points. All of these stop offs offered either peaceful waters to take in, or simply stunning views of Mount Katahdin. It was nice to take in so much beauty without too much effort - though 16+ miles of dirt-road travel can be pretty taxing.
|So many wild blueberries!|
|Millinocket Lake - where we stayed - in the distance|
The next day, we decided to do a mountain. Once we got to the park, a lot of the day use parking lots were full (we got there around 10am and were told these lots had filled at 7am... blah!), so we only had a few options for hiking and ended up doing Sentinel Mountain, which was a 4.8 mile out and back hike, which included walking along the edge of Kidney Pond for parts of it. Most of the hike was fairly flat until the final ascent to the summit... and once we hit the top, we had our lunch break before turning around. And honestly, this was probably my favorite hiking day, because there is really nothing like the overwhelming sense of peace and feeling of being a part of something greater than yourself than what I feel at the summit of a mountain.
|Katahdin over Kidney Pond|
|Loons in Kidney Pond|
|At the summit|
Finally - we hit the last day of our stay, which was also my birthday! Sadly, I don't have any photos to commemorate this day - but I do have a sweet t-shirt and AMAZING memories! We went whitewater rafting in class IV and V rapids in the Penebscot River, which included two runs of a section of the river and a lunch afterward. On the trip, we also had some chances to float in the river, swim through some rapids, do lots of "surfing," and even jump off a cliff into the river... it was just truly so much fun and such a memorable birthday!
And that wrapped up our stay in Maine's North Woods. The next day was our day of traveling all 10+ hours back to NY, where we arrived happy to have comforts of home and truly refreshed!