Article by Contributor Tricia Bielinski
With so much attention focused on the coast of Maine, it can be easily overlooked that the mountains and lakes of the state nicknamed ‘Vacationland’ hold just as much beauty and provide as amazing a backdrop to the outdoor activities as you will find in any seaside town.
Itching to explore, I was inspired by an article to visit the region called Rangeley Lakes on a recent weekend. After scooping up my brother in Portland, we started on the near 3-hour drive west to start our weekend. Halfway in we found ourselves a little thirsty, so naturally, we made a pit stop at the Sunday River Brewing Company just near the well-known ski resort. We wisely decided on a sampler and particularly enjoyed the Sunday River Alt and the Black Bear Porter. Everything is brewed onsite and it makes for a worthy road break if you find yourself in the area.
We arrived in Rangeley about an hour before sunset, perfect timing to unload our bags at the Rangeley Inn & Tavern located right on Main Street and a literal stone’s throw from our dinner location at Forks In the Air Mountain Bistro. I recommend both establishments and you will find the restaurant’s cocktail menu and wine list particularly soothing if you’ve just had a long drive.
While winter gets top billing in this area given the snowfall, my vote goes to the fall hiking and kayaking. A short 10-minute drive on Route 4 going south will get you to an entry point to the Appalachian Trail. There are a few options at this trailhead including the famed Saddleback Mountain. After some early morning kayaking (right on the lake that our inn is located on) we were looking for a shorter hike, so we opted for Piazza Rock. The day was sunny and a perfect mid-60s for hiking. The trail offers beautiful views and a couple of babbling brooks, but as we were in what’s known as the “Moose Alley” of Maine we were hoping to see some. Alas, that was not the case (though don’t get discouraged from my report, someone on the trail just the day before saw two!) but the moderately difficult hike did not disappoint. Hiking and kayaking aside, you can fish, canoe, and take an air tour from Acadian Seaplanes.
Invigorated but ready for a seat after our day of exercise and fresh mountain air, we plopped down at an outside table at the Furbish Brewhouse for a couple of cold ones and some quick appetizers. Everywhere in the small town has a view of lakes as you are right in the center of them, and it captures those pockets of beautiful golden autumn sunshine at every turn.
Fueled up enough to poke around some shops, we stopped into the Alpine Shop and Backwoods Clothing and my personal favorite, Inner Eye. This shop doubles as a coffee and tea spot housed in an old pharmacy. Go for an afternoon sipper and browse the candles, incense, and a variety of quirky and fun gifts.
Dinner was some fantastic pub grub at Parkside & Main with its lake view deck and pet-friendly, casual vibe. We followed this up with a nightcap at Sarge’s Sports Pub and how nice it was to sit at a bar again! Socially distanced from other patrons of course.
If you fancy a picnic when in the area or just a grab and go breakfast, Classical Provisions is your spot. They have homemade everything both breakfast and lunch and will even make you up a basket to enjoy lakeside or at the top of any area mountains, you can drive up to catch a view of the region. For those looking to get out of dodge and take a drive, there’s still plenty of fall left to go and enjoy this little area nestled in