Active Travels: Maine Huts & Trails Week
On my multisport adventure this week visiting all four of the Maine Huts, I kept a running commentary in my notebook on the many surprises I found along the way.
Huts Are Much More Comfortable Than You Imagine—From the cherry wood tables to the floor to ceiling windows to screened-in porches, these are the latest version of the hut-to-hut wilderness experience. Lisa and I had our own private room at each hut, the chance to shower every day, and my personal favorite, an opportunity to toast our accomplishment with an excellent list of Maine microbrews like Allagash White or Baxter Stowaway IPA.
Huts Are Located Next to Stunning Viewpoints—It’s only a 2-minute walk from Stratton Brook Hut to a glorious vista overlooking the 4,000-foot peaks of the Bigelow Range. At Poplar Stream, you stroll down a hill 10 minutes to reach a waterfall nestled in the deep forest. I won’t soon forget the sunset over Flagstaff Lake, a 5-minute walk from the hut. Finally, everyone should see the mighty Grand Falls once in his or her lifetime, a mere 10-minute walk from the Grand Falls Hut.
Meals are Far Better Than Expected—As the 5th grade teacher from Florida said to me after finishing her dinner at the Grand Falls Hut, “I’d come here just for the food!” Dinners included chicken with a boysenberry sauce, braised beef stew, a pasta primavera made with quinoa, all served with fresh local greens. Desserts were also tasty, like blueberry cobbler or lemon squares. For breakfast, we had strawberry pancakes with real Maine maple syrup, eggs with corned beef hash, freshly made biscuits with local jam, yogurt, and granola. They also supply tuna salad, chicken salad, or homemade hummus to pack sandwiches for lunch. So there’s no need to bring food on the trip.
They Transport Packs to the Next Hut—I have no problem backpacking or throwing my pack into a canoe, but mountain biking with a full pack is not fun. That’s why I loved their daily transport, which shipped my sleeping bag, clothes, and bathroom stuff.
The Maine Wilderness is Closer Than You Think—Only a 4 ½-hour drive from my house in suburban Boston and I was at my first trailhead outside of Kingfield, Maine. For the next 5 days I rarely saw another person while hiking, mountain biking, or paddling. In its place was a vast wilderness with few signs of civilization. Follow the cue of the bald eagles and loons and get here.