With only a few weeks of summer left, I can’t help but abandon my chores and head for water. While many people go to Maine’s spectacular beaches, I often journey inland to one of the state’s pristine lakes or rivers.
As a bit of a thrill-seeker, one of my favorite ways to cool off is whitewater rafting up in The Forks, on either the Dead or Kennebec River. On my most recent trip, I rafted down the Dead River, which offers paddlers the longest stretch of continuous whitewater in the Northeast. Both the Dead and Kennebec contribute to Maine boasting more whitewater than the rest of New England and New York combined.
There are so many experienced, fun, and friendly guide companies speckled all along the banks of the two rivers, no matter whom you choose, you are sure to have a great time. On my most recent trip down the Dead River, I went with Three Rivers. I have rafted with the company before and have always loved their campsites situated on the banks of the Kennebec River, the restaurant and bar onsite, and the enthusiasm and professionalism of their staff.
While you are in The Forks, I highly recommend making the two-mile round-trip hike to see Moxie Falls, one of Maine’s largest waterfalls, with over 90 feet of vertical drop. There are pristine swimming holes both below and above the falls, so bring your bathing suit!
Castle Island Camps on, you guessed it, Castle Island, is in the center of Long Pond (don’t worry, there is a road to the island). The camp is great for families, offering stellar fishing, a sandy beach for swimming, beautiful views, and comfortable accommodations with meals included.
Maple Hill farm B&B, located in Hallowell, offers guests pastoral solace from the craziness of daily life. The B&B is tucked away on 130 acres of pristine land, which includes a working farm. Guests are welcome to help out on the farm, or just hang out with the animals.
Castle Island Camps and Maple Hill Farm B&B are located close to loads of fun day excursions. Head to downtown Hallowell, on the banks of the Kennebec River and stop by The Liberal Cup for a beer and lunch alongside Maine’s political elite. The public house and brewery has long been a meeting place for politicians seeking respite from Augusta, the state’s capital.
What could be better after lunch at the Liberal Cup than an ice cream cone? In the small town of Wayne, Tubby’s Ice Cream believes nothing is better. Tubby’s is a little out of the way, but I promise the trip is definitely worthwhile. They take homemade to new heights: Their cones, hot fudge, toppings, and confections are all made by hand, their maple syrup is locally sourced, and their vanilla is aged for three years to ensure the richest flavor possible. And, of course, the over fifteen ice cream flavors are all homemade. My personal favorite: black raspberry.
There are also some great cultural things to do in the Augusta area. The Maine State Museum has a fascinating array of collections and rotating exhibits that are a great way to learn about Maine’s vibrant history. Don’t miss the exhibit on Tom Moser, one of Maine’s most celebrated furniture makers.
Before you leave Augusta, check out Old Fort Western, New England’s oldest wooden fort. The fort was built in 1754 and served as a staging area for Benedict Arnold during his assault on Quebec.
The Kennebec Valley is one of our state’s most varied and wonderful regions. The area is packed with lakes and rivers, forests, food, and history. Adventure-seeker or dockside-relaxer, history buff or foodie, you’ll find something captivating. Hopefully I will see you next time I skip my chores and head for the river.