Photo © Hilary Nangle.

Photo © Hilary Nangle.

If you want to experience the real Maine, consider one of these authentic Maine adventures. Each takes you beyond the usual tourist haunts, but none requires any special skills or abilities, other than a willingness to see the state from a new, distinctly Maine perspective, while immersed in the beauty of Maine’s outdoors.

Explore Acadia National Park’s Carriage Roads

Fifty-seven miles of well maintained gravel carriage roads lace Acadia National Park, all are open to walking, horseback riding, cross-county skiing, and snowshoeing; 45 miles are open to bicycling, too. These well-designed roads encircle ponds, ascend peaks, and provide glimpses if not jaw-dropping vistas over Acadia’s mountains and islands. Punctuating the roads are two stone gate houses and 17 handsome rough-stone bridges, with single, double, even triple arches—no two are alike.

Rough it in comfort on the Maine Huts Trail

The easy-going wide-bodied Maine Huts Trail snakes through some of Maine’s most spectacular backcountry. It stays low, following lakes and rivers and slipping between mountains, as it noodles through the wilderness. Spaced roughly a day’s hike apart along the trail are three modern, full-service, off-the-grid huts—with heat, hot showers, and lights—spaced roughly a day’s hike apart. Each provides comfy beds and hot meals to those who hike, mountain bike, or paddle the trail in summer or snowshoe or cross-country ski the groomed trails in winter.

Sail aboard a Maine Windjammer

Sure, you can take an hour or half-day sail, but nothing beats casting off all ties to real world and sailing for three to six days on a member vessel of the Maine Windjammer Association. Even better, it’s budget-controlled, because everything is included in the price: cabin, meals, and sail. Now don’t expect fancy accommodations, most are just a few notches above camping, but the experience of being ruled by wind and tide triumphs all. Seven vessels are National Historic Landmarks; a few are owner-built.

Learn The Truth about Maine lobster

You’ve eaten lobster, celebrated lobster, viewed lobster boats in the harbor, now hop aboard one, take part in the catch, and learn all sorts of lobster lore. When you’re ready for Lobster 101, join one of these excursion boats. Capt. Tom Martin’s Lucky Catch operates from Portland’s waterfront; Capt. Steve Hale’s Captain Jack departs from Rockland Harbor; and Capt. John Nicolai’s Lulu docks in Bar Harbor.

Maine Island hop

Board a passenger ferry, excursion boat, or mail boat to one of Maine’s offshore islands for a taste of life ruled by the tides. These four support year-round populations with economies based primarily on fishing, although summer rusticators often call them home. In each, lobster boats far outnumber pleasure craft in the harbor. Dreamy, car-free Monhegan is laced with hiking trails and dotted with artists’ studios; Vinalhaven has lovely preserves for walking and a great museum displaying its heritage as one of Maine’s granite quarrying centers; Isle au Haut, famed as the island home of swordfish boat captain-turned-cookbook and mystery author Linda Greenlaw, is home to a remote section of Acadia National Park that sees few visitors, as well as a boutique chocolatier; on remote Frenchboro, islanders live as islanders always have, making a living from the sea.