Maine Woods Discovery | Outdoor Recreation & Resorts

Our providers have given us some ideas that’ll get last minute plans going and inspire outdoor adventure during the coming weeks and months. You can plan your trip knowing that each provider and activity meets the high Maine Woods Discovery standards.



Enjoy your autumn adventures wherever they take you.

Here’s a Bonus: The Great Maine Outdoor Weekend is coming up on September 26 – 28. They have made it easy to find things to do outdoors across the entire state during the heart of this spectacular time of year.

Learn a little more about how Maine Woods Discovery to learn about how we make the Maine Woods easy to enjoy with our experienced professional outfitters.

by Mike Wilson, Senior Program Director, Northern Forest Center

Mike WIlsonIt’s a fair question to ask: Why would a group of relative strangers set off on a 250-mile, 16-day canoe trip through the heart of the Maine Woods eight days after “ice out” and right at the start of the infamous black fly season?

The short answer is to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the publication of Henry David Thoreau’s classic collection of essays, The Maine Woods, and promote the outstanding recreational opportunities available in the Maine Woods today.

But there’s so much m  
ore to the answer. If you asked the actual participants in the 150th Anniversary Thoreau-Wabanaki tour, you’d get a range of personal answers that I think would generally fall into these categories:

For the Thoreau scholars and historians, it was an opportunity to personally see and to feel the places and experiences that informed and inspired one of America’s great philosophers whose writing about nature and wilderness has inspired so many and helped set the stage for the modern conservation movement.

For the Penobscot Indian cultural guides, it was an opportunity to experience the ancient travel routes of their ancestors and to highlight the central—and often overlooked—role played by Penobscot guides Joe Attean and Joe Polis, who made Thoreau’s experience of the Maine Woods possible and shaped his ideas about nature, wilderness and Native Americans.

For those of us who organized the trip as part of Maine Woods Discovery, it was a chance to highlight the Maine Woods as a destination for deep, immersive guided experiences on a vast forest landscape remarkably unchanged from Thoreau’s time – and to encourage others to come and experience the quality of service, amenities and recreational opportunities this region has to offer.

While much has changed since Thoreau traveled in the Maine Woods, much more has stayed the same.  The long history of private ownership and management of the forest, combined with extraordinary public-private conservation efforts, has sustained this region as the largest intact forest landscape in the eastern United States. We are still fortunate to enjoy public access to millions of acres of privately owned forestland.

And the Maine Woods is still a big place – a place where you can lose yourself in deep evergreen forests and the sounds of songbirds, where you can challenge your body against steep mountains and roiling rivers, where you can, as Thoreau wrote, “think of our life in nature!”The unpredictable nature of the Maine Woods

Because it’s such a big and diverse place, local guides and outfitters are still an important part of the best quality experiences – as they were on our recent adventure which was led by Mahoosuc Guide Service and New England Outdoor Center.

When Thoreau came to Maine, the first thing he did before setting off into the woods was secure a local guide to help him find his way.

Kevin Slater & Polly Mahoney of Mahoosuc Guide Service While each trip was different, in each case it was the guide who enabled Thoreau to navigate the wildness of the Maine Woods. It was the guide who helped to plan details of the trip, selected the best campsites and prepared the food.  It was the guide who made sure he traveled safely across the big lakes and through the rapids on the rivers.  It was the guide who filled Thoreau’s mind and imagination with the stories, legends and traditions of the people who experienced the Maine Woods before him.

As Americans become more and more disconnected from the natural world, the Maine Woods offers a rare opportunity for reconnection and immersion with nature. And Maine Woods Discovery is here to help people find top quality service and amenities, and their own best experience of this vast forest landscape – whether that means challenging themselves to a week-long canoe trip, quietly tracking and watching wildlife, fishing, hunting, running class five rapids or relaxing on a screened porch watching the sun set over a reflecting lake.

In the end, we took on that 250 mile canoe expedition because we know the Maine Woods is a special place and because we think more people should, as Thoreau himself wrote, “travel the logger’s path and the Indian’s trail, to drink at some new and more bracing fountain of the Muses far in the recesses of the wilderness.”


A new exhibit featuring photographs from the 150th Thoreau-Wabanaki Canoe Tour, curated by Chris Sockalexis, Penobscot Nation Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, opens at the Abbe Museum on July 8.

On May 16, 2014, a group of Maine Woods guides, members of the Penobscot Nation, scholars, and others began a sixteen-day canoe trip retracing the last of three adventures immortalized in Henry David Thoreau’s iconic book The Maine Woods. The expedition, organized by Maine Woods Discovery (, traversed the Maine Woods much the way Thoreau did 150 years ago–traveling through a largely undeveloped forested landscape filled with vast lakes and wild rivers.

Day 2 – Time to Reflect – Seboomook Point – Moosehead Lake. Stan Tag on rocks and Mike Wilson in canoe. Photo by Chris Sockalexis.A central element of the trip involved engaging members of the Penobscot Nation as cultural guides to the Maine Woods. Penobscot Nation Tribal Historic Preservation Officer Chris Sockalexis was one of the participants in this journey, and he documented the trip in photographs. To share a taste of this unique experience with Abbe Museum visitors, Sockalexis presents a selection of his photographs, supplemented with photos by several other trip participants, along with the story of the trip.

Thoreau’s trips through the Maine woods would not have been possible without the help of his Penobscot guides, Joseph Attean who led him on an 1853 excursion, and Joe Polis who guided the 1857 expedition. “This is our homeland, and it is a great honor to share our cultural knowledge with the people of the State of Maine,” says James Francis, Penobscot Tribal Historian and Director of the Penobscot Nation Cultural and Historic Preservation Department. “This trip honors our ancestors and the guides whose contributions enhanced Thoreau’s Maine Woods experience. Without them the true spirit of the Maine woods would have been devoid from Thoreau’s senses.”

The 150th Anniversary Thoreau-Wabanaki Tour was organized as part of Maine Woods Discovery – a standards-based cooperative marketing initiative designed to position the Maine Woods region as a top quality travel destination. Maine Woods Discovery is a project of the Maine Woods Consortium ( coordinated by the Northern Forest Center ( Guiding and logistics support was provided by Mahoosuc Guide Service, New England Outdoor Center, the Penobscot Nation Cultural & Historic Preservation Department, and the Appalachian Mountain Club. Financial support was provided by Elliotsville Plantation, Inc.; Plum Creek Timber; and Bangor Savings Bank. A partnership with the Maine Office of Tourism helped to document the trip and secure national and regional level media participation. Learn more about the tour at

The mission of the Abbe Museum, Maine’s first Smithsonian Affiliate, is to inspire new learning about the Wabanaki Nations with every visit. Other exhibits currently on view at the Abbe Museum include Twisted Path III: Questions of Balance, the 2014 Waponahki Student Art Show, St. Sauveur: A Meeting of Nations, and Layers of Time. Visit our website for a calendar of the many exciting programs and events coming up this summer at
For more information about the exhibit contact:

Allison Shank
Manager of Guest & Creative Services
Abbe Museum
26 Mount Desert Street
PO Box 286
Bar Harbor, ME 04609

For more information about Maine Woods Discovery contact:
Mike Wilson
Senior Program Director
Northern Forest Center


The Untamed New England Adventure Race “100 Mile Wilderness Edition”, presented by Plum Creek, will kick off at The Birches Resort on Moosehead Lake in the Maine Highlands on Wednesday, June 18, 2014.  A portion of Plum Creek’s land in the region is part of this year’s challenging New England Untamed adventure race course.  Participants from 11 different countries racing on 40 different teams congregated Tuesday in The Forks at Northern Outdoors, the Rafting and Peak sponsor of this year’s race, for check-in and the all-important unveiling of the race course.  Course information and full live coverage will be available at starting Wednesday morning.

The race will kick off with a short orienteering circuit before teams jump into canoes and paddle across the chilly waters of Moosehead Lake.  After facing  trekking and ropes challenge on Little Kineo, and a trek on Mount Kineo Island, teams will paddle to the Mud Brook Camp in Lily Bay where they will have a chance to taste test sponsor Good To-Go’s “ready to eat” meals.  From here teams will transition to mountain bikes for the leg to take them to the Gorman Chairback Lodge where they will do both an orienteering relay course and a small conservation project.  UNE 2014’s Destination and Peak Sponsor, the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC), opened the lodge in 2011 as part of their Maine Woods Initiative, which included the acquisition of 70,000 acres of land across 5 townships.  Cutoff #1 will be all lodge activities completed by 7:00pm on Thursday.

From Gorman Chairback, teams will continue on mountain bike to Transition Area 2, from which they will head out on the Abenaki Lost World Trek, summiting three peaks in the Shaw Mountain Range while crossing land owned by AMC and by presenting sponsor Plum Creek. This forest is dense, damp and steep and will challenge teams’ navigation skills.  Plum Creek owns and manages more than 865,000 acres of working forests throughout Maine, including in and around the Moosehead Lake Region that hosts part of the race.  About 96% of Plum Creek’s land in the Moosehead Lake Region falls under a permanent conservation easement that will forever keep it as a working forest rich in wildlife and unique plant habitat and with free and open access for the public to enjoy.   “We’ve long known our working forest lands provide exceptional recreational opportunities, and this race will help highlight what the Moosehead Lake region in particular has to offer,” said Mark Doty, community affairs manager for Plum Creek.  “We welcome these world-class athletes to give it their all as they compete in mountain biking, canoe and kayak paddling, trail running, off-trail trekking, across this untamed terrain.”

Teams will exit the forest back at the Mud Brook Camp on Lily Bay where sponsor Kelty will have tents set up for teams desiring a rest.   This camp also serves as cutoff #2 – teams arriving after 7:00pm on Friday will be shuttled to the Moose Mountain (formerly known as Squaw Mountain) Ski Area.

Teams making the cutoff will canoe to the Town of Greenville where they will do an “urban” orienteering course in town and set off on foot to the Moose Mountains.   After a trek over the mountains teams will set out on bikes to The Forks, rushing to make the third and final cutoff —  6:30pm on Saturday at the start of the White Water rafting section.  From there, the course will move to a packraft/trek section through the Dead River gorge, followed by a final bike leg to the finish at Northern Outdoors. 





By Melinda Byrd, Artist and Creative Contributor to the Thoreau-Wabanaki 150th Anniversary Tour

I am happy to play a minor part in the excitement of the 150th Thoreau-Wabanaki expedition by sharing my artwork. My relationship with Henry David Thoreau began when I moved to Concord, Massachusetts as a small child and started 1st grade at Thoreau School, and later attended Emerson School as well. Every summer, I had my swimming lessons at Walden Pond. I think that I “absorbed Thoreau’s spirit through osmosis.”

After majoring in biology at Keene State College in New Hampshire, I began my career as a ranger in Colorado. For fifteen years I worked as a naturalist in Maryland, and eventually as administrator, opened a new Nature Center in Maryland. In 1999 when my work became too administrative, I quit to find my path as an artist—my second passion. (Henry had inspired me to sketch every day in nature!)

I carved this linocut of the face of Thoreau in 2003 in order to pay him tribute for the inspiration he gave me that led me on my path in life. In my carving I tried to bring out the kindness, gentle spirit, and sense of humor I believe Thoreau possessed. I chose the word “simplify” FB-Thoreau_Discover-Simplifyto carve over his head because to me, that is his message in one word—as it is my mantra and key to happiness by which I try to live. The “energy lines” that radiate to and from his head represent his connectedness to life energies of the earth as well as connecting with so many people over generations who feel the same energies. I am thrilled to be a distant witness of these 150th Thoreau-Wabanaki expedition activities. I am moved to reopen some of my books by Thoreau and remember his joy in life once again. Thank you for sharing HDT’s spirit with us.
Melinda Byrd, Byrdcall Studio


A few thoughts from the creative team

We are in the business of finishing touches, presentation is everything. During the last month we have tried to create an immersive experience that will leave a lasting impression on you about Maine Woods Discovery and the idea that there are quality vacation adventures to be had in The Maine Woods.Fox_sketch

In all this there is one group who we did not want to leave out of the mix. Our paddlers. So during a moment of shear bliss we struck upon the idea of giving the paddlers something to remember the trip by, so we tracked down Melinda and asked her for her permission to create an alternate version.

Right now we cannot share with you what it is we are presenting, because it would take all the fun out of it. But we hope those who have put aside 16-days of their own life will enjoy what we have created. #150Thoreau – Matthew Kovacevich, Thalo Blue Design

We encourage you to check out her work and maybe purchase one of her creations:

Melinda can be contacted at
Visit her website at
Thoreau shirts may be easily purchased through her etsy shop:
Follow her posting on Facebook:  Byrdcall Studio