Best of Maine: Outdoors
Surf in Wells. Zip line down Sugarloaf. Have Acadia all to yourself (well, almost).
Photo: Paul Rezendes
World-Class Nordic Skiing
The 10th Mountain Ski Center
When you have a winter as long and deep as the one that envelopes Aroostook County, your best chance for survival (the psychological kind) is to embrace it. The 10th Mountain Ski Center, part of the Maine Winter Sports Center, makes it easy. The center has an extensive Nordic ski trail network, with loops ranging from .7km to more than 6.5km, all groomed and maintained by volunteers. This is a world-class facility, host to the 2011 Biathlon World Cup, which brought thousands of spectators to Fort Kent. 33 Paradis Circle Rd., Fort Kent. 207-834-6203. 10thmtskiclub.org
Remote Island Destination
Isle au Haut
Imagine having Acadia National Park all to yourself. That’s not too far from what you’ll experience when you stay the night at one of Duck Harbor Campground’s five lean-tos on the far side of Isle au Haut. Half of the island belongs to Acadia, and once the day hikers take the last ferry five miles back to Stonington, it’s just you, the campers at the four other campsites, and 2,700 acres of one of the country’s finest parks. Go to nps.gov/acad/planyourvisit/duckharbor.htm to request a campsite.
Wheels n Waves
Located in Maine’s surfing capital, Wheels n Waves is the state’s oldest surf shop. Don’t let its funkiness fool you. Over the course of nearly forty years, owner Vic Brazen has built this Route 1 shop into a haven for both serious surfers and those picking up a board for the first time. Receive surfing and paddleboarding lessons starting at $40 for two hours. 365 Post Rd., Wells. 207-646-5774. wheelsnwaves.com
Use of the Offseason
Sugarloaf Resort’s Zip Line
Even though the snow has long since melted and skis are collecting dust in basements everywhere, Sugarloaf Resort doesn’t take a summer vacation. In 2010 the resort developed a course of five zip lines up to 240 feet in length allowing you to glide thirty feet above Gondi Brook and across the path of the former Sugarloaf gondola. It’s a whole new way to fly down the mountain. Available weekends from June 22 to October 13. Make sure to call ahead for reservations. Carrabassett Valley. 1-800-THE-LOAF. sugarloaf.com
Island Quarry Swimming
Whether you’re looking to go for a dip when the ocean is too cold, take a leap off tall rocks, or even swim in the nude, Vinalhaven has you (un)covered. The island has three different quarries (one of which is clothing optional) to choose from. The best of the bunch, Lawson’s Quarry, is just half a mile from town, making it possible for a daytrip without needing a car. The ferry schedule from Rockland can be found at maine.gov/mdot/msfs/vinalhaven.htm
East End Beach
With Crescent Beach fifteen minutes away, and Scarborough, Old Orchard, and Ferry Beaches just a bit farther, we wouldn’t blame you for leaving Portland to enjoy the sand. East End Beach, however, just downhill from the Eastern Promenade, is an overlooked gem. In what other city in the Northeast can you leave your apartment in flip-flops and a bathing suit and walk to the beach in less than ten minutes? And your dog will love it in the offseason. Eastern Promenade, Portland.
See a Moose!
Four ways to view Maine’s varied wildlife.
With daily trips throughout the summer, Hardy Boat Cruises gives passengers an up-close look at the world’s southernmost Atlantic puffin population at Eastern Egg Rock Island. New Harbor, 1-800-2-PUFFIN. hardyboat.com
With the help of a Maine Guide from Northwoods Outfitters, experience that breathtaking moment of spotting a bull moose cooling off in the water. 5 Lily Bay Rd., Greenville. 866-223-1380. maineoutfitter.com
Whether it’s observing the Brownfield Bog or walking the Kennebunk Plains, York County Audubon puts together scenic and informative bird-watching trips all year long.
P.O. Box 201, Kennebunkport. yorkcountyaudubon.org
View humpback, finback, and minke whales aided by the speedy catamarans of Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co. 1 West St., Bar Harbor. 207-288-2386. barharborwhales.com