In Maine, some might argue that “the boonies” are better than the city. We’d tend to agree with those people! There are so many wonderful places to explore in Maine, but some of the best of them are located off the beaten path. When faced with the choice of exploring the obvious in Maine or putting in a bit more work, we always vote for the trips that are slightly less convenient. So, load up the car and head to these places that are way out in the boonies!
1. Spring Creek Bar-B-Q, Monson
Spring Creek is about as real as you can get this side of the Mason-Dixon line, serving up buckets - yes, buckets - of tender pork, beef and chicken. Hiking the AT and want to fill your belly with something other than trail mix? This is your place!
2. Battery Steele, Peaks Island
Okay, this one is admittedly not in the actual boonies. But, once you're visiting, it does feel exceptionally remote for being so close to civilization. Battery Steele is a military fort located on the oceanside area of Peaks Island in Casco Bay. The Fort was built in 1942 as part of efforts to support World War II. The military site is a mix of two worlds. From the outside, the area appears to be completely left to nature. Overgrown trees and branches crowd what appears to be a crumbling facade. However, the real magic of Battery Steele lies underground. The bulk of the fort is made up of an underground area. These tunnels have been overtaken by artists and the mark of local Maine residents and friends covers the walls.
3. The Maine Solar System Model, Aroostook County
Head north to the county for the scaled model of our solar system. Created by the University of Maine in Presque Isle, this model begins with the sun in Presque Isle and goes all the way to Houlton where you'll find the (now defunct as a planet) Pluto.
4. The Golden Road Maine Scenic Byway
The name itself evokes feelings of off-the-beaten-path journeys. The 96-mile Golden Road was built by the Great Northern Paper Company and stretches from the St. Zacharie Quebec border crossing to the company's former mill in Millinocket. Much of this road is unpaved so make sure your car can handle the trip before heading out. If you go, you'll be treated to incredible views of Katahdin on the way. Begin the drive in Millinocket, head to Ambajejus Lake, then Greenville and on to Seboomook Lake. Lastly, you'll be heading towards the Saint-Zacharie border crossing.
5. Aroostook State Park, Aroostook County
While those in The County and its surrounding areas wouldn't say it's in the boonies, Maine's first state park is wonderful. It will give you access to the North and South Peak of Quaggy Jo Mountain and also offers recreational activities such as fishing, boating, swimming and hiking. There aren't tons of official spots, so you should aim to have a reservation if you want to camp. Some of the campsites are reserved for same-day arrivals.
6. The Downed B-52C, Elephant Mountain
On January 24, 1963, a United States Air Force Boeing B-52C Stratofortress went down over Maine while flying a training mission. Of the nine crew members, only the pilot and navigator survived. Elephant Mountain, near Moosehead Lake about six miles from Greenville, is the final resting place of its shredded fuselage. A half-mile hike will get you to the wreckage, where a stone memorial commemorates the seven fallen soldiers.
7. Nook and Cranny, Baileyville
This is arguably Washington County's "Best Kept Secret" and they do a great job of serving up some incredible food with great local flair - all in a converted chicken coop! A family business through and through, you'll feel right at home the second you step inside. Try the seafood chowder or the chef's burger.
Visit them at: 757 Airline Road, Baileyville / (207) 454-3335
8. The Great North Woods
With so much accessible wilderness in Maine, it's easy to forget about THE wilderness. The vast North Woods is a natural playground, offering immeasurable beauty and amazing wildlife with a fraction of the crowds you'll find elsewhere.
9. Quoddy Head Lighthouse, Lubec
The Portland Head Light gets all the glory, but we think the candy-striped Quoddy Head is just as - if not more - photogenic. It's way-out-there location right on the Canadian border makes it a less-popular stop on the tourist trail, but we think it's worth the trip.
10. Roque Bluffs State Park, Washington County
With a population of about 300, you could come here on its busiest day and still feel relatively at ease and comfortable. This tiny town is home to the 274-acre Roque Bluffs State Park overlooking Englishman Bay from Schoppee Point. A visit to Roque Bluffs should include Simpson Pond and the six miles of walking trails found within the park.
11. Belgrade Lakes, Kennebec County
While leafpeepahs head out to Acadia in droves, we prefer to head for the hills to the Belgrade Lakes Region. During fall, the scenery explodes with color, and the quaint little Main Street is alive with local flavor. Don't miss the picture-perfect Harvest Festival in early October - your friends will feel like they're stuck in a Norman Rockwell painting.
12. Lane's Island Preserve, Vinalhaven
Vinalhaven itself is a bit off the beaten path, but the wonderful preserve area is even more out in the boonies. It's no wonder that one of Maine's most beautiful coastal walks is often deserted. Head out of the main area of town and walk among the winding trail that leads along the rocky shore.
13. Vaughn Woods & Historic Homestead, Hallowell
Many locals refer to this serene preserve as "Hobbitland," referring to its green and secret feel. However, there is so much more to these lush woods. The area is preserved by the non-profit Vaughan Woods & Historic Homestead and is perfect for exploring small streams and paths.
14. Piazza Rock, near Sandy River
Located along the Appalachian Trail near Rangeley, this teetering rock appears to have been placed against a tree by a very strong giant. Check it out while hiking about four miles, round trip on this section of the AT. While the area is demanding, the hike to and from the rock is actually pretty family friendly.
15. Route 11, The Fish River Maine Scenic Byway
The only thing better than visiting something IN the boonies, is having the trip itself be THROUGH the boonies. This 37-mile trip between Portage and Fort Kent will lead you to some of the best that Northern Maine has to offer. Take in the views of natural landscapes, including Mt. Katahdin and Eagle Lake and then take a few side trips to places like Fort Kent Blockhouse, the Allagash Wilderness Waterway and Aroostook State Park.
16. The World Traveler Sign, Lynchville
Maybe not the actual BOONIES, but it's still in a pretty random spot! If you'd love to see the world, but aren't sure where to start, Maine can help you out. Your starting point should definitely be the World Traveler Sign. Providing directional cues and mileage to any foreign place (in Maine) you could possibly want to see, this funny sign has been providing great photo ops for years. See it for yourself on Valley Road in Lynchville.
17. The small town of Robbinston in Washington County
While it might seem like a "random" town to some, it's important to explore these smaller communities in Maine. They're some of the most vibrant and some just plain need Mainers to visit. Located just about as far east as possible, Robbinston is separated from Canada by a three-mile river. Early industry focused on shipbuilding, but moved to fishing and farming potatoes when steam-powered ships arrived on the scene. Notably, Robbinston was a last stop for the Underground Railroad where escaping slaves would cross over into Canada and find freedom. Visitors should stop by the John N. Brewer mansion, which is now a bed and breakfast, to see one of the houses that once supported the Underground Railroad.
18. The Well at Jordan Farm, Cape Elizabeth
Okay, okay. We KNOW that Cape Elizabeth isn't the boonies. But, this is one of those places that certainly feels like the boonies once you're there. The tiny shack that serves as The Well's kitchen is quaint, but it's not much to look at. This seasonal spot has people coming back for the amazingly fresh food (much of it sourced right from Jordan's Farm), beautiful pastoral setting and unique outdoor seating. On the menu: things such as seared monkfiish, black rice, romanesco, broccoli, red pepper sauce.
Another pretty great way to get off the beaten path is to take a trip just for the drive. Try
this beautiful road to nowhere in Acadia.
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