Drive north on Maine’s Route 95 to just past Old Town, then exit onto Route 11 toward Milo. Keep driving (and driving) until you’ve left all your cares and worries behind, and entered the wild and unspoiled heart of Maine. They call this region the Maine Highlands, perhaps because almost at its center is Mt. Katahdin. At more 5,267 feet, Katahdin is the state’s highest peak and the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.
Everything about the Highlands is big. It’s a big wilderness with a big state park (Baxter), a big lake (Moosehead) and a big wilderness waterway (the Allagash). There are also big opportunities for the adventure vacation of a lifetime. Whichever region you choose to visit—the Katahdin area, the Lincoln Lakes, Moosehead Lake or the Sebasticook Valley—you’ll find a body of water for every sport and for every skill level. Guided excursions can take you whitewater rafting, canoeing or kayaking deep into the wilderness, fresh water fishing, mountain biking, rock climbing or hunting.
Like a more sedentary vacation? Then book your stay at one of the region’s many charming and comfortable resorts, lodges, B&Bs, cottages, hotels, motels or campsites. You can find eco-friendly accommodations, or a lakeside guesthouse where you can curl up with the latest Stephen King novel. (King, of course, is a Maine native and bestselling author.) Whatever your preference, you’ll find innkeepers who will cater to your every need.
After heeding Maine’s call of the wild, you may want to venture into one of several Highlands area towns. Visit Lincoln, Greenville or Millinocket to shop or to connect with the locals, many of whom will jump at the chance to share stories from the “old days.” For example, Millinocket was once a colorful, bustling 1900s lumbering and paper mill town. Today it is a restocking and recharging hub for Baxter Park hikers, who come with their own tales to tell.
Finally, if you would rather spend your vacation not with people but with wildlife, head for the Highlands. In this little slice of heaven on earth some call a “rich and wild ecosystem,” you can commune with dozens of species of songbirds and ducks, bald eagles, moose, fox, deer and the occasional little black bear.