Maine Wilderness Camps
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These days, getting away from it all is such a bandied-about rubric, we practically use it to describe a trip to the mall. But the term gets a reinvestment of meaning during a weekend at one of hundreds of rustic camps that dot the shores of remote rivers and lakes throughout the North Woods, some accessible by backwoods roads and others only by floatplane.
The tradition of Maine’s wilderness camps dates back to before the Civil War, when in the spring families would open up cabins deep in the middle of nowhere to cater to fishermen, and then stay open throughout the hunting season.
Camps are owned under a variety of arrangements, by private owners and resort operators who set up drive-in and fly-in vacations for groups to fish, paddle, or just get lost in the rhythms of the woods and dance of the Northern Lights. Some offer home-cooked meals and canoe or motorboat rentals along with cabins stocked with cook stoves and refrigerators.
To find a camp, check out the listings on the website of the Maine Sporting Camps Association (www.mainesportingcamps.com). Or check out one of the three options below:
$175–385 per day
The cream of the crop are the Libby Camps, to which you’re flown via seaplane, to stay at any of ten antiques-filled outpost cabins. Run by the third generation of a backwoods sportfishing dynasty, the camps are known primarily for their superb fly-fishing in Millinocket Lake (back in the day, Teddy Roosevelt was said to be a fan), but also offer something far more elusive than the one that got away: total seclusion. Rates include gear, boats, three meals, maid service, and sometimes at least one flyout to a remote fishing pond.
Medawisla Wilderness Lodge and Cabins
$31–144 per person
Now owned by the Appalachian Mountain Club, Medawisla Wilderness Lodge and Cabins dot the shore of Second Roach Pond in the deep woods west of Moosehead. The camp is named after a Native American word for loons and is famous for its breeding population, which was recorded for use in the soundtrack of the film On Golden Pond.
The seven sturdy housekeeping cabins are popular with fishermen, who come to angle for landlocked salmon, lake trout, and brook trout; and bird-watchers, who thrill to more than 100 species on the pond. It also has direct access to hiking trails and a 60-mile network of cross-country ski trails in winter. Rates include use of canoes and kayaks, as well as sometimes meals and housekeeping.
You can’t get much more remote than Loon Lodge, which prides itself on being a two-and-a-half-hour drive in from “town” (the nearest being Greenville and Millinocket, each 75 miles away). It’s also possible to fly in by seaplane from Greenville. Accommodations consist of knotty-pine cabins with propane stoves on the shore of Round Pond, each decorated in a different animal theme.
Packages include use of canoes and rowboats and hearty home-cooked meals in the main lodge. In addition to Lake Trout and Salmon, the pond boasts the rare Blueback Trout, and big feisty Muskie. For non-fishermen, the lodge offers nature tours in which guides use “moose calls” to attract bull moose, and a trip out to a feeding station popular with black bears.
© Michael Blanding and Alexandra Hall from Moon New England, 2nd Edition