The Maine Highlands Guidebook Maine Highlands Guidebook 2019-2021 | Page 19

Natural Wonder at all Ages Explore: Rail Trails "Rail trails" are abandoned railroad beds that have been converted to multi-use recreational paths. They tend to be smooth and flat, making them great for biking, walking, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing. Some trails also allow ATVs and snowmobiles—always be cautious and look out for other trail users! The glacier-formed landscape around Katahdin is rich with spots for families to explore together, from swimming holes and waterfalls to ice caves and ice cream! ON THE WAY Start your weekend early with a trip to the Maine Discovery Museum in Bangor. Kids will love the hands-on activities and exhibits. Enjoy dinner al fresco at one of downtown Bangor’s local eateries. DAY 1 Pack up and head into the wilderness of the Great North Woods. Pitch your tent under the trees at one of the many local family campgrounds or rent a lakeside cabin (or “camp” as Mainers call these rustic cottages). Some campgrounds and resorts will even cook you dinner. DAY 2 The Ice Caves Trail is a great hike for families. Take a left off of the Golden Road just after Abol Bridge, keep left at the fork, and after four miles, look for a blue-blazed trail. The hike is easy: just 1-mile through tall pines, moss, and ferns to the Debsconeag ice caves. Feel the air get colder as you climb down through the glacial boulders! Younger kids will need some help on the ladders and ice. Explore the large and small caverns, which are frosty and covered in icicles even in the middle of summer. After lunch, splash your way into the Penobscot River. Rent tubes and life jackets from Abol Bridge Campground and take a shuttle upstream to the start of a leisurely 3-hour float down the river. This river is home to some of the country’s most technical white water rapids, but for this stretch, kick back and relax as you float along with spectacular views of Katahdin. DAY 3 Pack a picnic and your bathing suit for a day trip to Shin Brook Falls, about an hour north of Millinocket. This is a short but steep hike; younger kids will need help descending to the falls. The cascading falls and swimming holes are worth the effort and all ages will enjoy splashing and swimming for hours. WANT MORE EXCITEMENT? Several whitewater rafting companies in the Millinocket area offer trips for families with children as young as 8, usually including lunch and time to play and swim as well as an exciting—but safe—trip over Class I–III rapids.   SHERMAN TO PATTEN TRAIL: An offshoot of the main Bangor and Aroostook Railroad 4.5 mile trail covered in crushed stone and gravel. Open for hiking, biking, ATVs, horseback riding, snowmobiling, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing. Snowmobile and ATV riders will enjoy exploring a number of side trails. The wetlands adjacent to the trail make for an excellent place to see wildlife, especially birds.   MICHAEL MICHAUD WALKING AND BIKING TRAIL: Runs along the Millinocket extension of the Bangor & Aroostook Railroad A 1.65 mile loop trail that follows Millinocket Stream. Paved with asphalt and open to hiking, biking, in-line skating, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing. Wheelchair accessible.    LAGRANGE RAIL-TRAIL: Runs between Lagrange and Medford along the Bangor & Aroostook Railway 11.5 miles of crushed stone and dirt. Ponds and bogs along the way are attractions for wildlife. Open to hiking, biking, ATVs, horseback riding, snowmobiling, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing.    WALDEN-PARKE TRAIL: Part of the Walden-Parke Preserve in Bangor Network of 5.2 miles of wide trail offers gentle ups and downs. It passes through areas of ongoing beaver activity and includes parts of the old Veazie Railroad bed.   FOUR SEASONS ADVENTURE TRAIL: Also known as the Newport/ Dover-Foxcroft Rail-Trail 26 miles that runs between Newport and Dover-Foxcroft and links two rivers and three lakes. Surfaced with crushed stone, dirt, and sand. Open to hikers, bikers, ATVs, horseback riding, snowmobiling, dogsledding, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing. For more information on rail trails in our region and beyond, visit  THE MAINE HIGHLANDS.COM | 19