Wednesday, August 10, 2016

7 Maine Nature Spots to Adventure In



I'm excited to have a good friend, Katie, on the blog today talking about Maine. Maine is one of the states on my travel bucket list that I haven't made it to yet. In fact, it was one of the locations we put on our pick list for this transfer season. (Obviously we didn't get that pick since we're in Michigan. We're still happy to be closer to the East Coast.) I can't wait for you to see the great items she's shared with you today!

 
Some of my favorite places are those that I have stumbled upon; those places that are sometimes only advertised by a road sign, if at all. Maine has many beautiful and interesting places to visit, especially for those of you who are adventurous. One of the best parts of the Pine Tree State is our expansive access to nature. We’re a bit spoiled that way! Maine is teeming with nature and wildlife, from its extensive reserves and refuges to its woodlands. While Acadia National Park is arguably one of our most breath-taking experiences, here are a few other “hidden gems” that will prove just as awe-inspiring:

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens (
http://www.mainegardens.org/) is a nonprofit organization consisting of constantly growing and changing botanical landscapes, which is what I love most about it. There are some staples in the gardens, such as theBibby and Harold AlfondChildren’s Garden,extensively inspired by books that have authors with a Maine connection. There is also the meditation garden; the Five Senses garden with plants and instillations that touch upon each sense, from edible and fragrant herbs (taste and scent) to soft lamb’s ear (touch); and acres more! Other parts of the landscape, including many of the plants in each garden, are constantly changing from season-to-season, as well as all throughout the season itself. Because of their expert horticulturists, they have different plants that bloom at different times of the year, for full-season beauty. Something is always in bloom at the CMBG! 
 
 
Wells Reserve at Laudholm. Driving in to Laudholm, the road is a winding trail of trees and marsh, which give way to reveal rolling coastal hills and a cream-yellow farm house, one of the only buildings on the land.  This location is both affordable (only $5 for adults!) and beautiful. Wells Reserve at Laudholm (
http://www.wellsreserve.org/visit/) is protected land, a National Estuarine Research Reserve,full of walking trails that pass deep into the reserve’s wilderness, perfect for nature lovers, wildlife enthusiasts, and photography fanatics. There are also exhibition halls, which address the research activities at Laudholm, how research findings are used to influence and improve coastal management, how southern Maine’s coastal environments have changed over time, and how coastal landscapes are impacted by people and vice versa. 










Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge. TheRachel Carson Wildlife Refuge (
http://www.fws.gov/refuge/rachel_carson/visit/visitor_activities.html) has trails as well as designated kayak locations and fishing spots. The trails are fantastic for seeing Maine’s coastline and woodlands while on a leisurely walk, as well as birdwatching, wildlife observation, and nature photography.

Maine Wildlife Park. This Wildlife Park(
http://www.maine.gov/ifw/education/wildlifepark/) is a nonprofit wildlife sanctuary located in Gray, ME. Full of trails, exhibits, gardens, seasonal events, demonstrations, activities, a picnic location, and safe viewing of the sanctuary’s residents, the Maine Wildlife Park is an all-around family adventure. If you love to feed animals (ahem, like me), there are also dispensers throughout the park to feed several of their inhabitants, including the deer and ducks. It is educational and fun!

Swan Island. Swan Island (
http://www.maine.gov/ifw/education/swanisland/index.htm) is basically untouched by human development, except for the established campsites, picnic centers, and utility center. The island is full of wildlife and open to hikers, campers, bird watchers, photography enthusiasts, and general nature-lovers. It has 7 miles of hiking trails, kayak rentals (if, like me, you don’t have one!), and tons of sights to see. I have been to this island twice and adored it each time. Spotting a seal popping its head out of the water on the boat ride to the island is not uncommon, the landscape is stunning for woodland photography, and everywhere you turn there deer, birds, and other wildlife. (Also a big pro: they have modern bathrooms, so if like me, you love being submerged in nature but are not a big fan of “roughing it” this is the perfect destination.) This little island off the coast of Maine is accessible by reservation only, so make sure you schedule in advance!
                       
Waterfalls in Maine.If you are looking to check off some Waterfalls of New England off your bucket list, upper Maine has several!There are approximately 40 waterfalls in northern Maine (
http://www.newenglandwaterfalls.com/maine.php), each stunning in their own way. Some have rock formations, some have old wooden or stone bridges nearby. Each waterfall and the hike to it are a little different. Step Falls, on the Step Falls Preserve, and Screw Auger Falls, on Grafton Notch State Park, are two of my personal favorites!

Saco Heath. This is a nature conservatory project in Southern Maine that has been primarily volunteer-and-donation driven. The Saco Heath (
http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/maine/placesweprotect/saco-heath-preserve.xml) is 1,223 acres of woods and bog, filled with native plants that have adapted to grow in nutrient poor, acidic soil. One mile of thepreserve has a trail that has been built going through the woods and bog, so that nature is undisturbed by human presence. While walking through the Heath, I have seen overturned trees, ferns unfurling by small streams, owls seeking shelter from soft rain, a variety of native flowers, carnivorous plants, and little orange mushrooms popping up along the moss, among many other sights. My favorite times to visit the Heath are during the early spring, when the whole bog is in bloom, and after rainstorms, so that the tree bark is dark and the greens are right-out-of-the-jar vibrant. Whether you are a photographer or just a nature lover, you will find yourself enchanted by this walk!






 

Can’t choose just one to visit? That’s okay. Come back and visit us again! We are “Vacationland,” after all.

About the Author


Katie is a Maine native. She lives with her 2 quirky dogs and a backyard flock of 10 equally quirky chickens. When she isn’t being a busy college student, she is practicing yoga, hiking,taking photographs of local wildlife and plant life, snuggling with her chickens or dogs, volunteering, digging in her garden, embracing her yardsale-junkie fate, and scrapbooking. You can find her blogging about gardening, life, joy, self-love, and food at Joyful Teacup (
www.joyfulteacup.com) and on Instagram (www.instagram.com/joyfulteacup/).











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