Day 3 – Closing the Gap on the North Maine Woods
Day three started out by eating breakfast, packing up, and taking showers. Every day that we stayed in a place with a bath house we made sure to take showers right before leaving. We never knew if the next place we camped would have showers or not.
I was also able to get some pictures of the lake before we left:
At check out, the owner gave us some directions so we wouldn’t get stopped by a closed gate and have to backtrack, which would cost us time and sunlight. When we left the store, a Vanagan was parked right next to us outside and Jake went into full fangirl mode. The owner came out of the store right after us and Jake immediately started up a conversation and allowed us to take a peak inside. It was in almost perfect condition.
We left the campground and, at the suggestion of the campground owner, we traveled around Mooselookmeguntic Lake. The next couple hours were spent on a combination of dirt roads and paved roads until we reached 201 North. We had planned on taking a different route to Jackman, Maine, but taking 201 definitely saved us some time.
By this time, I was pretty upset that I had yet to see a moose, and we were on Day Three!
Jackman, Maine is located in Moose River Valley, population 862 (2010 census), and 15 miles from the Quebec border; it is the largest town in the region. Jackman is well known for ice fishing, snowmobiling/four wheeling trails (also their main transportation), snowshoeing, and working forests (similar to that of the North Maine Woods). We made it to Jackman at about 12 PM. There are only two gas stations in Jackman, so it wasn’t difficult to figure out where to fill up diesel, and as for grocery stores, there is only one so we didn’t have a choice of where to stop to grab the few essentials we needed.
Since it was lunch time and we were getting a little hungry, we decided to eat at Four Seasons Restaurant and Lounge, one of only three restaurants (that we saw). They have an area to sit down to eat inside, as well as a bar area but don’t expect a four star restaurant; we sat outside since it was nice and cool. We ordered potato skins to share, Jake order the hot atomic wings, and I got a grilled chicken sandwich. The food was alright, seemed to be a lot of bar type food, but it was still good.
When we were done with our meals, we started plotting our route to Twenty Mile Checkpoint to the North Maine Woods. There were a few locals sitting outside drinking, so Jake being the extrovert he is, strolled over to them to ask for directions with the Atlas. Not two minutes later Jake was best friends with a local named Wild Bill. He was hammered, but he still knew his stuff. Wild Bill was hilarious and we learned that he had lived in Jackman his entire life and never crossed the “lookout” south of town. Everyone in the town knew him and he knew them, who he kept instigating us to flick off with him, which we did. He also challenged us to a cornhole game which they apparently call “bean bag toss.” We lost. Badly. By the time we were ready to leave Wild Bill had told us some really bad, yet funny jokes, as well as nicknamed me “Hairdryer” (thanks Jake).
Taking Route 15 / Route 6 out of Jackman, we FINALLY encountered our first moose of the trip. She came running out of the forest and was about to collide with us when she turned and ran parallel with us in the ditch before she slowed down and crossed the road behind us. She was beautiful and huge! Even though she was running beside us three feet lower in the ditch, her head was right at the passenger window so I had an amazing view of her! We were very lucky that she turned at the last minute and didn’t hit the truck. Hitting a moose, or a moose hitting you, is just as bad if not worst than hitting deer in the southern states. Unfortunately the encounter happened so quickly I didn’t have time to take a picture, but here are some to give you an idea of how big even small moose are.
We continued on to Northern Road north to Pittston Farm north of Rockwood, Maine, where we set up our home for the night. As soon as we finished setting up it started to storm, which lasted no more than 20 minutes. Our awning came in handy as we were able to lower it and put our chairs under it to wait out the rain. When the rain did stop, we walked to the main house to get water, see where the showers were, and to check out their museum. Jake prepared fish tacos once the rain stopped and we sat by the fire enjoying each other’s company the remainder of the night.
Pros of Pittston Farm:
– Dry firewood
– Neat museum
– Groomed ATV and snowmobiling trails
– Nice sites for campers
– Year round camper sites
– Gateway to the North Woods at twenty mile checkpoint across the river.
Cons of Pittston Farm:
– Store was pretty much empty (it was the end of summer season)
– Pit toilet outhouses throughout campground
– Only showers (2) were at the main house
– More suited for campers than tent camping
– Looks uninviting when arriving
Day 4 – The North Maine Woods
On the morning of Day 4, we packed up and took showers before crossing the North Branch Penobscot River to the 20 Mile Checkpoint into the North Maine Woods. We paid our day fee at the checkpoint, $15/person/day fee and entered the woods!
Our next stop was Eagle Lake Tramway. The Golden Road took us most of the way there, then took a few smaller roads to Caucomgomoc Lake. The only down side to traveling so much each day is we didn’t stop too long in some of the places we went, so we ended up just driving by the lake and on to the Eagle Lake Tramway.
Ran into some logging trucks as well…
We used the atlas to navigate the access roads until we spotted signs leading us the rest of the way. Recently, a parking area has been cleared so the walk to the Tramway is only about a mile (20 minutes or so). At the parking lot, Jake grilled up some lunch before we headed out to the Tramway.
The Eagle Lake Tramway was extraordinary! Built to haul pulpwood (spruce trees) between Eagle Lake and Chamberlain Lake, the Tramway was basically a railway system that ran for six years before being abandoned in 1907. From 1927 to 1933, the Eagle Lake end of the Tramway was modified as an end station or terminal of the Eagle Lake and West Branch Railroad, which was used to haul pulpwood south. The two engines are the only survivors from its operation. The engines (Ghost Trains), cars, and additional parts of equipment can still be found here today and is on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2012, volunteers restored parts of the Tramway to bring it back to life, as time, the harsh weather of Maine, and souvenir hunters had battered its existence.
Leaving the Tramway, we hiked the mile back to the truck and continued on to our campsite for the night. We couldn’t seem to find the campsite we had been looking for from our Atlas, so we stopped at a ranger station where the rangers gave Jake directions to the only campsite close by that was accessible by motor vehicle. It took us a little time to find it, but once we did it was definitely worth the detour to find it.
Using the Atlas, I directed Jake about ten miles from the rangers station where, after some confusion of where exactly we were, we made a left onto an overgrown road with a sign that read “Umbazooksus East.” We picked up a few pinstripes, and at one point we were about to try and turn around thinking this was not the correct road. But the dense bushes and trees finally gave way to a clearing that had been perfectly manicured by the North Maine Woods (Bureau of Parks and Lands). It was perfect. A nice shelter with a picnic table, a clean and well constructed pit toilet, and two convenient campsites.
We hopped out of the truck to look around, and that’s when I noticed a grassy walkway that led away from the campsites. I followed it to an opening that was right out to a beautiful waterfront campsite. I called for Jake and he came running down to the campsite, which is when we noticed a moose, standing in the water looking directly at us. Jake ran to get my camera and I was barely able to get a picture as he ran off.
We positioned the truck so that we had a nice view of the lake and quickly set up. Of course by the time we had made the trip to Maine, most of the lakes had already been partially drained for the winter season, but our view was still spectacular.
For firewood, Jake cut down a dead tree with his handy battery powered chainsaw that he bought solely for this trip. He had a fire going in no time with enough wood for a nice little fire in the morning.
We made chili and cornbread for dinner while we watched an amazing sunset right over the lake. We could not have asked for a more perfect setting or a more perfect night.
Pros of Umbazooksus East Campsites:
– Well maintained
– Two picnic tables / fire range
– A well constructed pit toilet
– Absolutely stunning views
– Sunset was picture perfect
– Quiet and relaxing
Cons of Umbazooksus East Campsites:
– Rough road driving in
– No firewood provided, must find and chop your own
– Muddy near the water, but it was also drained in September
Day 5 – Out of The North Maine Woods and on to Bar Harbor
The morning of Day 5 was probably my favorite. Breakfast was bacon and eggs right on the water, and the temperature was just right.
After packing up the truck, we left our campsite and headed out of the North Maine Woods. Not long into our drive, a mama bear and her cub crossed the road in front of us. It was so exciting to see them as my list and number count of the animals we had seen during our trip was low! We had now seen two moose, two bear, and one deer.
While on the Golden Road, we stopped at the Abol Bridge Campground & Store to grab a snack and to take pictures of Mount Katahdin, which is the beginning of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail in Maine. The view was incredible and one of my favorites for sure.
We continued on, through a few villages and towns before we reached I95 South and civilization (which was weird after not seeing many people for a few days). We took I95 South to Bangor, Maine, where we stopped for lunch at Sea Dog Brewing Co. for lunch. Since the weather was perfect we sat on their porch overlooking Penobscot River while eating a few appetizers before our meals came. I also tried my first flight. Of course all of the food was delicious, and any leftovers we had went in to our refrigerator in the back of the truck for later.
After lunch, we headed east to Bar Harbor. Everything in Bar Harbor was beautiful. We decided to stop in the town before heading to our campground to walk around (since we had been in the truck for many hours), see the cruise ships, and go in a few shops. We also came across, from a distance, a natural land bridge that is only accessible during low tide that crosses the harbor to Bar Island. As much as we wanted to drive across and explore, our schedule just didn’t allow us the time so we observed from afar.
We headed to our campground to get settled and take some much deserved showers. Once we arrived at Blackwoods Campground, however, we discovered that the campground did not have showers, only a place to use the restroom. So before we could set up, we drove back out of the campground and down the street to a bathhouse where we had to pay (in quarters for time) to use the shower. Jake’s shower cost us $2 and mine cost us $6, go figure.
The bathhouse also sold firewood, so we grabbed some of that as well before heading back to the campground to set up. After we had set up we decided on taking the shuttle bus (which was free btw) back into Bar Harbor for some dinner.
We had a delicious dinner at Testa’s Restaurant. We ordered Crab Stuffed Mushrooms to share; Jake had two very large lobster with corn and red potatoes. Because I’m allergic to lobster (or so they say) and scallops I had crap soup and a salad, while jealously watching Jake devour his lobster. Everything was amazing, as we expected it to be. The food in Maine did not disappoint in the least bit.
Since the buses had stopped running at 7:45 PM, we took to the only available Uber (Steven, cool dude) back to the campground for a night cap before passing out for some much needed sleep after a pretty long day. The next day we planned on spending doing some shopping, exploring Bar Harbor as much as possible, and eating some more amazing food, so we needed all the sleep we could get.
Pros of Blackwoods Campground
– Campsites are well maintained with fire ring and lots of trees
– Free shuttle bus stop to and around Bar Harbor
– Campground is right on the Harbor/ocean, short walk down trail
– Bathrooms are nicely maintained (only toilets and sinks)
– Amphitheater with shows in the Summers
– Tours are offered in the Summers
– Always a breeze since it’s right on the water
Cons of Blackwoods Campground
– No showers in the campground
– Do not have a store or sell firewood
– Campsites aren’t very private, close to all neighbors
-No cell service outside of main Bar Harbor (unless you have AT&T apparently)