It’s 2020 and we’re here to help you fill out your annual bucket list! There is a lot to do in The Maine Highlands, but we’ve narrowed our list down to our 7 top picks for 2020.
#1: Hike Mount Kineo
Hiking Mount Kineo is a bucket list worthy experience. It’s not your typical trail head. The mountain (and state park) is located on a peninsula in Moosehead Lake that is only accessible by boat. Or, if the lake is frozen over, by hiking or snowmobiling to the trail head. It’s remoteness is what makes is all that more amazing.
In the warmer months, the Kineo Shuttle will ferry you and your hiking buddies from the Town Landing in Rockwood to the peninsula. Golfers will want to check out the historic 9-hole golf course with some of the best views in the state.
We suggest you hike Mount Kineo in the fall when the leaves are at their peak. Be sure to pack layers, as the wind off the lake can be cold and cutting. But those 360 degree views from the top of the fire tower are worth every effort to make it up the trail.
#2: Shop and Eat around Downtown Bangor
Downtown Bangor is the place to be. With unique boutiques, eclectic cafes, and several farm-to-table independent restaurants, its small city charm is wooing residents and visitors alike. Wander through stores selling home goods, unique plants, books, clothing, and handmade jewelry. Grab a pint of craft beer in one (or more than one) of Bangor’s tasting rooms and pubs. Make a night of it and grab a bite to eat before a show at the Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion, Cross Insurance Center, Bangor Opera House, or Bangor Arts Exchange.
#3: Go Cross-Country Skiing
Cross-country skiing has a long tradition in Maine. Swedish settlers brought their skis to Maine in the late 1800s. It’s been a way of transportation and fun ever since!
Not only is cross-country skiing a great way to enjoy a winter day, it’s great exercise. You can burn around 500 calories an hour navigating your skis along our trails. The Maine Highlands has numerous dedicated volunteers blazing both in-line and skate skiing trails in our region. There’s nothing more beautiful than exploring these trails after a snowfall.
#4: Rent a Cozy Cabin
Why wait until the summer to plan a getaway? The Maine woods is a wonderful place to spend a weekend in the winter! Many of our wilderness cabins and lodges offer meals, gear rentals, trails to explore, and Registered Maine Guides to take you out and teach you something new. Try snowmobiling or ice fishing. Relax by the wood stove or fireplace while the kids play in the snow. Turn off the TV, put away the tablets, and strap on some snowshoes. It’ll be a winter vacation getaway you won’t soon forget.
#5: Go Fat Biking
If you haven’t tried fat biking yet…put it on your 2020 bucket list! There are some amazing new trails in The Maine Highlands region that are perfect for fat biking. Check out the Penobscot River Trails in Grindstone, the Katahdin Area Trails at the New England Outdoor Center in Millinocket, and the Appalachian Mountain Club trails near the Moosehead region. Don’t have a fat bike? You can rent one at both NEOC and Penobscot River Trails.
#6: Visit the Orono Bog Boardwalk
The Orono Bog Boardwalk is a sweet spot adjacent to the Bangor City Forest. The Boardwalk is a 1-mile loop through a peat bog, and it’s great for people of all ages. The trail is wheelchair friendly and open seasonally from May through October. And the views change with the seasons. The flora changes from electric green in the spring to burnt red in the fall.
#7: Paddle Hirundo Wildlife Refuge
You don’t need your own canoe or kayak to paddle the waters through Hirundo Wildlife Refuge. And that’s part of the charm. If you let them know 24 hours before you want to visit, the Hirundo staff will happily get you a boat (or boats) ready and even fit you with life jackets. They run on donations, so it’s nice to bring some cash along to thank them for their services.
Hirundo Wildlife Refuge is located about 15 miles north of Downtown Bangor. Pack yourself a picnic and your binoculars and enjoy an afternoon on the water.