Maine is unique. It is as large as the rest of New England combined.
It is the most forested state in the nation. Over 10 million acres are
too sparsely populated to have local government. These unincorporated
areas are mostly semi-wilderness working forest. Even the pristine lakes
in this forest are undeveloped. As the crow flies, the coastline is
230 miles long. However, the coast is rugged, carved with innumerable
bays and coves, and the Gulf of Maine is dotted with over 3000 islands.
As a result the jagged shoreline exceeds 3500 miles of nooks and crannies.
Getting off the beaten track is easy. And difficult. Here's some help.
To get offshore, visiting any of the five puffin colonies:
To get farther offshore in search of whales and pelagic species:
To get deep into the forest in search of northern species:
Maine is famous for its diversity of habitats. Many vacationing
birders prefer to move around the state, staying only a couple
of nights in one place, perhaps chasing puffins on the coast
one day, then moving on to the northern forest, the western
mountains, the central lakes, or the southern marshes.
But there is another type of adventurer - one who wants to venture off the beaten track and get away from it all. Birding is just part of the experience that draws them to Maine's more remote areas. Waking up to loons, paddling undeveloped lakes, probing bogs and forests near the Canadian border: these things do more than pad the life list. These things refresh the soul.
Maine has a heritage of historic sporting camps and modernized lodges in the woods. These days, even the most remote has WIFI and extraordinary dining.
For more, go to Maine Sporting Camps Association. Meanwhile, here are six examples below.
Give yourself the total Maine experience. Stay in a truly remote sporting camp. Wake up to loons in the morning, eat a hearty breakfast, then walk to northern Maine's specialties, including American Three-toed Woodpecker, Black-backed Woodpecker, Spruce Grouse, and Boreal Chickadee. Eagle Lake is one of the famous Fish River chain of lakes that stretches sixty miles through beautiful northern Maine forest almost to the Canadian border, surpassing in primeval beauty and grandeur many of the better known woodlands and lakes of Maine. The camp was established in 1889. Bring your binoculars and a hearty appetite.
You won't believe it until you see it. Although the lodge sits on Route 1, this is a section of America's designated scenic byways. This is the gateway into the habitats of Aroostook County - home to concentrations of Black-backed Woodpecker and Spruce Grouse. The secret to finding all of the difficult northern forest birds is to use the logging road network that penetrates the northern forest in the area, providing secret access to bogs and spruce stands where Boreal Chickadees, Gray Jays, and moose are regularly encountered. This area is also famous for wild lakes and excellent fishing. You wouldn't expect to find such an attractive lodge in such an uninhabited area.
Historic Pittston Farm
is located above Moosehead Lake, in the heart of the working
forest. Be aware: you'll be 20 miles from the nearest pavement.
This hundred-year-old wilderness complex used to be headquarters
for Great Northern Paper logging operations. It's been converted
and modernized with solar power, wind power, WIFI, and great
food. Seriously, if you want to experience the true Maine forest,
with all the incredible scenery and wildlife, and virtually
no people, this is it. The inn is on the edge of a lake, two
rivers, a marsh, and sits at the entrance gate of the North
Maine Woods. The inn can even provide a localized birding guidebook
to help with locating target species.
Jackman is the last stop before Canada, nestled at the far northern end of the Kennebec and Moose River Valley corridor. It is a land of lakes, streams, working forest, and moose. If it were possible to gather the entire wilderness experience into one place, it would have a name: Attean Lake Lodge. The lodge and cabins rest on an island accessible only by boat. The pristine lake is renowned for paddling and fishing. The surrounding forest is home to the boreal birds that characterize northern Maine. Over the years, guests have urged that the cabins remain rustic, relying on kerosene heaters and gas lights. The lodge is thoroughly modern, with a dining room that satisfies an appetite built up from a great day of birding.
These six remote lakeside log cabins are the only cabins on the pond. Located 34 miles from Greenville, this is a remote, wilderness experience. Built in 1901, Spencer Pond Camps sit in the shadow of Little Spencer Mountain (with its resident population of Bicknell's Thrushes on top). The rustic-cozy cabins are fully equipped for housekeeping and comfort with screened porches and rocking chairs, private docks, and canoes, kayaks, mountain bikes all provided to use free of charge with each cabin rental. There is a lot of boreal habitat in the vicinity and the owners are knowledgeable about where to look for birds and wildlife.
To experience the full adventure of what the Maine Highlands has to offer, make your headquarters a log cabin on Moosehead Lake or Loon Lake (aka Wilson Pond). Besides the incredible birding in the area, the full range of outdoor activities is at your disposal. Hike, canoe, kayak, moose watch, or just sit on the porch and count up the day's lifers. Pre-season rates are in effect during the best, early summer birding period. Particularly good for couples traveling together or with dogs.