Readers’ pick: Surrounded by Maine

It is the ultimate refuge from the world. Whether planning a trip to the mountains with your friends or a family-style cottage stay at Litchfield Lake, this is the place to escape.

First, there’s the dreamy scenery. From the beach in Rye Harbor to the mountains of Acadia National Park, Maine’s golden coast features all the natural panoramas you could want.

As the snow closes in, there’s only one other way to get around—skiing. Start with the trails at Litchfield Lake, a favorite summer camp destination for families. Then go back on skis to the Chiffler Ridge, a great red-ski area in Mount Desert Island State Park. You may get a great waxing lesson from one of the local ski instructors—or just show up and watch.

The Vermont Blue Mountains at dawn in Acadia National Park. (Stacey Dabbs)

What about lakes? Well, there are plenty of area lakes, and for pure tranquility, head for Agawam Lake. Or, if you really want the “big lake” experience, head up to the Mount Rock Wind Estates in Androscoggin County.

Sometimes, there’s no place like home. It is, after all, the roots of Maine—a state of small towns, small schools, and small communities. For a mix of hot coffee, meatloaf, and entertaining conversation, head to Waterville. From there, you can take a kayak tour and enjoy the St. Michael’s State Park on the shores of Acadia National Park. Or, it’s easy to sign up for a clam bake at one of the local restaurants in the small fishing towns along the way.

The historic Brady-Brown Shed in Prospect Square, Waterville. (Stacey Dabbs)

After sunset, walk around the Village of Gardiner, another favorite summer destination. In winter, you’ll find plenty of hidden skiable slopes in this green paradise.

AmeriPolly II ski area in Paradise. (Stacey Dabbs)

Cool down by visiting Rainy Day saloon in Waterville. It used to be the very spot that Malcom X — an ancestor of many African-Americans in this area—went to drink a cold one on his trip to Massachusetts in the 1950s. Then, to further celebrate its history, the bar renamed its signature rum punch Rainy Day.

Visit the farmers market in Portland, the heart of Maine’s African-American community, and pick up fresh fruit from a wide selection of local farmers and distillers. You can even check out the cast and crew at the famous Portland Writers Studio.

Discover the Maine wilderness in winter and spring with an active hiking tour. You can pick up a map and compass and head for the west end of Moose Mountain state park in Charlestown. At the tip of the trail, you can be sure to see Mt. Desert Island. From there, it’s another 4½ miles up to Mt. Smoky Hill to get a closer look at the American Towers.

Omaha Falls State Park in Charlestown. (Stacey Dabbs)

The fuel of the river. On the Mendon State Forest in Hope, you can pick up a hot cider and some fresh logs from one of the local forests. You’ll want to carry a canoe and take a cold, cold dip in the full-color well-manicured pools and lagoons. Every summer, the only thing we see in it is skis.

On Moulton Island, find a cabin in the woods on one of the many high lakes. There’s even a skating rink in the summer and ocean swims in the winter. Let’s face it, it’s better than the malls of Boston.

A winter getaway to your kid’s aunts’ cabin. In Camden Harbor, the homes are small, the summers are warm, and you can walk from the family cabin in Kennebunkport to the Griswold House restaurant for a sundowner and cheese toast.

But no trip to Maine would be complete without visiting its famous rivers, by bike or in canoe. Enjoy the opportunities to enjoy a different part of Maine every year. Some years, that can mean riding upstream into the Potato City to find your friend’s hamlet in Grafton. Other years, it can mean following the Maine Scenic Rivers trail into Northern Maine to discover the lobsters in the Morel Pond.

Here’s to Maine’s rivers, woods, lakes

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