One thing we love to do is explore beautiful places far from the crowds, and we love it even more if seeing new wildlife is a part of the adventure. We took a few days to explore the Moosehead Lake area of Maine, and wish we could have stayed longer. We stayed in Moosehead Family Campground which was a wonderful spot to take a break from exploring. While all of their sites are nice and wooded, I would highly recommend site 12 if it is available due to the very private feel and peace and quiet of the woods.
Having spent the morning working, our first stop was in Greenville, Maine at Kelly's Landing Restaurant for some lunch on their waterfront balcony. We read great reviews online and their service and food deserved their high ratings. Taking a moment to feed ducks is always a highlight to any stop by the water.
Not far North of Greenville is the small waterfront town of Rockwood. We stopped here to explore the beautiful waterfront and their incredible view the cliffs of Mt. Kineo. The main thing we needed here was Fuel before heading into the North Maine Woods, and it's a good thing we did because that was the last open business we would pass for the next 10 hours.
Not far North of Rockwood, we made the turn onto Northern Rd, also known as 20 mile road because it leads to the 20 mile checkpoint for entering the private lands of the North Maine Woods, and also happens to be 20 miles long. Shortly after turning onto Northern Rd the surface turns to dirt and gravel, and while this area is a little rough, it was only a taste of what was to come later in our journey.
We saw our first Maine moose about a dozen miles down this road just West of Tomhegan Pond. She was enormous, beautiful, and incredibly graceful, but most of all she didn't care one bit that we were disturbing her afternoon snack. We enjoyed watching her for a while before she meandered on into the woods. Darci was especially thrilled because we allowed her to stand on the roof of the truck. The things we will do to experience nature.
We entered the 20mile checkpoint to explore a little bit of the North Maine Woods and drive the Golden Road at about 6pm after a full afternoon exploring small ponds and little forestry roads barely wide enough for the truck, sometimes leading to beautiful views of mountains, ponds, or streams, but on occasion just ending deep in the woods. We had 40 miles to travel East to another checkpoint exiting the area before they closed at 9pm. Sounds easy right? Well we discovered quickly that this will be a place we return to when we have many days if not weeks to explore.
It took us over an hour to travel the first 6 miles and get to the storied Golden Road. Not only because this was the roughest section of road we had seen so far, but because of a couple side trips just off the main road where we discovered the first of many primitive campsites scattered throughout the woods. These little pieces of beauty were so incredible and pristine, it seemed like we were the first people to lay eyes on them. A full map of the North Maine Woods can be found here and their site has information about locating great campsites. Fees are higher than typical parks for entry but since this park is private and is so large it is understandable. When we visited fees were $15 per adult for non Maine residents or $10 for residents. Overnight camping is a little more per night. If you like to explore wilderness areas then it is well worth it.
Not long after turning East along the Golden Road we saw a surprising porcupine waddling off the road and then were fortunate enough to spot a family of black bears. Momma bear quickly scampered into hiding in the woods but we were able to watch her 2 cubs check us out for a minute before they also climbed down their tree and disappeared into the dark woods. The sun was setting behind us as the girls enjoyed a very bumpy ride East arriving at the checkpoint and exit only minutes before they closed for the night. Not that we would have minded too much spending an unplanned night as one of the many empty campsites we saw earlier along our adventure.
Day two exploring Moosehead Lake was a bit more laid back. We traveled the eastern forrest roads exploring many views of ponds and bogs. We saw a very pretty deer and the tracks and scat from where many moose had been, but weren't fortunate enough to spot another. Perhaps waiting a bit for them to come back to the water around sundown would have been rewarding. However when you are exploring with 2 and 5 year old girls who think being quiet means not screaming, well perhaps no waiting would have helped unless we waited for those 2 girls to fall asleep first. Thankfully there will be another adventure very soon and more wildlife to discover.