September 2016 – Foliage season is fast arriving, with the first red and gold leaves appearing in northern Maine. It's a great month for observing wildlife and watching the annual coastal bird migration. Families love fall for apple picking and the state's many festivals. For beer lovers, the Maine beer trail has become a worthy autumn pilgrimage. Looking forward to the winter months, Maine's ski resorts are already gearing up for a busy season. In February, look for the opening of the Appalachian Mountain Club's (AMC) newly restored Medawisla Lodge, offering rustic lodging and a staggering view of Katahdin.
Fall is for wildlife lovers, one of the best times of the year to spot moose and enjoy the coastal bird migration. Moose can be seen throughout the state, but their population is greatest in the Western Lakes and Mountains, the Kennebec Valley, the Maine Highlands, and Aroostook County. Strike out on your own on a road trip or head out with companies like Maine Moose Watching Tours or Northeast Whitewater, who provide guided excursions to some of the best moose-spotting areas in the north woods. Dusk and dawn are prime times in the fall during their breeding season. Birders have ample opportunities to spot rare species, thanks to the Maine Birding Trail, which covers 382 miles and offers 82 official birdwatching sites for the fall migration. Or, they can choose an excursion, such as one offered by the Maine Audubon Society, which sponsors an annual Pelagic Trip on September 17 from Bar Harbor. Previous excursions have spotted a great skua, thousands of shearwaters and storm petrels, and common murres and puffins, with an added bonus of whale and dolphin sightings.
Fall Festivals for Families
Fall festivals are a great getaway for families to enjoy the autumn in Maine. A Halloween-centric festival is the theme of the OgunquitFest Fall Festival in Ogunquit, from October 13 – 23. It includes ghostly tours, with ghostly tales told on the streets of Ogunquit, and a Monster Mall Marketplace with crafts. There are horse-drawn wagon rides, a Great Pumpkin Patch Celebration and a costume parade. Up in Boothbay, Family Harvest Days at the Boothbay Railway Village invites families to celebrate the bounty of autumn at an old-fashioned, family-friendly festival on Saturday and Sunday, October 3 – 4. Expect barrel train rides, farm animals, a butter churning demonstration and complimentary cider and homemade cookies. Then, take a hayride to a pumpkin patch. In the Western Mountains, the Fall Festival Weekend at Sunday River in Newry offers a family-friendly celebration of the end of summer with live music, the legendary North American Wife Carrying Championship, the annual Blue Mountain Arts & Crafts Fair and the New England Corn Hole Championships. The Maine Pumpkin Trail is already underway with events extending into October in Bath, Boothbay, Damariscotta and Rockland. Finally, don't miss the Maine Craft Weekend on October 1 and 2, a statewide festival in conjunction with American Craft Week that's an opportunity to explore the life and work of craft artists and craft brewers in Maine. The weekend features statewide tours of craft studios, breweries, businesses and events.
Maine Beer Trail
Brewing in Maine started with Geary's Pale Ale back in the mid 1980s and has grown to close to 50 breweries statewide. The easiest way to visit all of Maine's breweries — or perhaps just a few — is to follow The Maine Beer Trail. It connects most of Maine's breweries, from Shipyard Brewing Co, Sebago Brewing and Rising Tide Brewing Company to Kennebec River Pub & Brewery and Black Bear Microbrew. Visit 10 breweries to receive a Brewers' Guild hat or hit 20 breweries and get rewarded with a t-shirt. If you can't find a designated driver, make the tour with The Maine Brew Bus, complete with beer, snacks, tours and beer trivia. Or simply stick to Portland, where there are nearly a dozen breweries within walking or cab distance. Of course, there's always the temptation to start brewing your own. Stop in at The Hop Yard to get your fresh hops while the fall harvest is underway. They have hop fields in Gorham, not far from Portland and up in Fort Fairfield in northern Maine. You can also check out Aroostook Hops in Westfield. Check out the multi-media The Maine Thing Quarterly to learn more about Maine's beer scene.
Ski season may seem far away but Maine's alpine resorts are well on the way to gearing up for a busy 2016-2017 season. Sunday River promises a new triple chairlift on Spruce Peak while Black Mountain Ski Resort, a mountain that offers some of the best tree skiing in New England, cut new trails this summer. They won't be lift served yet but they will offer intrepid skiers more terrain to test their mettle. Sugarloaf is now offering its Classic Ski Week package, with rates as low as $330 per person for a five-night stay in an on-mountain condo through October 14. Mt. Abram has already set the Friday after Thanksgiving as its opening date while Camden Snow Bowl will be selling its early bird passes through October 31. Go to Visit Maine for more on Maine's downhill resorts.
AMC Medawisla Reopens
In February 2017, AMC's Medawisla Lodge & Cabins will reopen after being completely rebuilt. Medawisla (the Abenaki word for loon) is the newest destination in AMC's Maine Wilderness Lodges network and an ideal spot for exploring the famed 100-Mile Wilderness. Truly "off the grid," it's situated by the shore of Second Roach Pond, on 70,000 acres of forestland permanently conserved by AMC as part of its Maine Woods Initiative. Located seven miles from Kokadjo and northeast of Greenville, Medawisla will offer opportunities for hiking, paddling, fly fishing, canoe camping, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. For those who already love the winter and summer activities at nearby Little Lyford Lodge & Cabins and Gorman Chairback Lodge & Cabins, it's another amazing opportunity to explore the Maine woods.
Slow Travel in Maine
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