For a rewarding road excursion you need to discover Route 26. This unassuming highway starts in Portland and meanders northwest until it reaches Upton 100 miles away. Along this route you’ll find amazing vistas, but more importantly you’ll find “The Gems of 26“!
North of Portland you’ll drive through the town of Gray and pass Crystal Lake.
Opposite the lake look for the Maine Wildlife Park sign. This unusual park serves as a home for more than 25 varieties of wild life, including black bears, coyotes and great horned owls. It’s also a great place for a picnic, hiking and nature trips.
While at the park stroll over to the Dry Mills Fish Hatchery. It raises thousands of brook trout each year to be stocked in more than 700 waterways throughout the state.
A short distance north you’ll come to Shaker Village at Sabbathday Lake. This is a devout religious society established here in 1783 and today is the only remaining active Shaker community.
The town of Poland Spring is a few miles to the north. This is where the world famous water bottling company got its start. Here you’ll find the Preservation Park. Included in this seasonal complex is the Poland Spring Resort with the first American resort golf course. Other activities available include real grass tennis courts, hiking trails, an art gallery, cross-country skiing trails and ice skating in the winter. The Maine State Building built in 1893 for the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the All Souls Chapel, and the Poland Spring Bottling Museum can be found here as well.
A short drive up is Range Ponds State Park with a wide sandy beach and picnic areas.
A few miles from Poland, on Route 26, you’ll find the treasured New Balance Factory Outlet … where you can always find a GREAT DEAL!
As you keep traveling you come to the town of Norway, where the McLaughlin Gardens features a collection of select trees, woody shrubs, and perennials. Then you’ll drive parallel to the Little Androscoggin River on your way to South and West Paris, Bryant Pond and Locke Mills.
With camping, resort accommodations, and inns … you’re sure to enjoy your stay in this breathtaking four-season region of Maine.