This 160-mile snowmobile trail loop is one of the most exciting –
and least known – new wrinkles in the North Woods.
By Frank Andrews
Even the name sounds enticing:
The Moosehead Lake Snowmobile Trail. It conjures up all sorts of upcountry images – vast lakes in mountain country, remote villages where moose outnumber people, funky backwoods towns where a frontier vibe still prevails, the places where the road in Maine literally ends and the great North Woods begin to take over. Five years ago a snowmobile trail by that name opened, and it indeed traverses some of the most spectacular terrain in the state, circumnavigating Moosehead Lake. It’s one the most exciting developments in Maine – yet it’s largely unknown except among snowmobilers.
A mini-highway of sorts, the trail takes travelers through some of the woods country made famous during the logging era, drawing a wide circle around the states largest lake and conveniently linking all of the more intriguing places in the region. It climbs up to lofty overlooks, passes through deep forests, stops at outposts like Kokadjo, Northeast Carry, Seboomook, and Pittston Farm, and slide through the cool villages of Rockwood and Greenville, never too many miles from food and fun.
And sledders have taken to it in droves. “I probably see 500 sleds or more on a Saturday, says Ken Twitchell at Pittston Farm, a legendary rustic inn and eatery twenty miles from Rockwood that dates back to the days of lumbering and river running. Thanks to its down-home food, serve up family style, it’s become a particularly popular stop on the trail.
Greater Moosehead has always attracted snowmobilers, but until 1995 it offered only a haphazard collection of trails and byways. The Moosehead Trail links all the area’s amenities together, providing sledders with signs, information, and a well groomed run, and it has increased business considerably, says innkeeper Twitchell. “Some ride in for a cup of coffee, others for a meal, some stay a day, others stay several days. They’ll go one direction one day and another the next. Or they’ll do the whole loop. It’s a great trip.
The idea of making a snowmobile trail a trip in itself was key in creation of the loop. “What makes the Moosehead Trail unique in Maine, ” says Bob Meyers of the Maine Snowmobile Association, “is that it was the first loop that was actually developed as a loop trail. Sure, there are plenty of places where trails connect and you can make a circuit, but this was the first loop that was laid out intentionally as a loop and promoted as a destination.”
The trail was planned such that sledders can do the whole thing in a long day if they really push, leaving their trucks behind in Greenville in the morning and returning to them by evening. Or they can take a leisurely pace, savoring the sights and spending the night somewhere just off the trail. Services and surprises await every twenty miles or so, from gas pumps and general stores to lunch counters and cozy cabins. In between are long stretches of prime Maine woods country, moose crossings, and all. Trail runners can take in the vistas, from Blair Hill, just outside Greenville, where the lake seems to stretch forever into the distance: they can visit the scruffy village of Kokadjo; have a bite at Raymond’s Country Store and Camps in the Northeast Carry and watch Shirley Raymond feed the giant herds of deer; or zip off the trail to see the wreck of a B-52 bomber near Blair Hill. They can climb Big Squaw Mountain, a ski hill near the southwest corner of Moosehead, or head up the hillside of Mount Kineo, the soaring felsite cliff the lords over the lake. They might skip over to Lazy Tom Bog, a nearby moose hot spot on paper-company land beyond Kokadjo, or get their kicks by crossing frozen Moosehead on Route 66, another snowy “highway: that combines with the Moosehead Trail to make a shorter loop within the loop. Rooms are available at any number of spots along the way – a variety of inns and motels in Greenville, from the posh Blair Hill and Greenville Inns, to simply comfortable Kineo View Motor Lodge; at Northeast Carry, where there are rustic cabins; at Pittston Farm; and at the Birches a famed sporting resort in Rockwood, among other places. Sleds can be rented at the Birches and at Kokadjo Trading Post.
Quite aside from physically linking the various tiny communities it runs through, the trail has been a remarkable community effort- each village grooms and maintains nearby stretches, a laborious task even though it’s done with the latest equipment. But it makes for a smooth ride. And you don’t necessarily have to be a sledder to enjoy it. The trail is open to cross-country skiers, and snowshoers, too (ones with the good sense to keep and eye and an ear out for the snowmachines).It’s an unforgettable loop, and one of the only ways to see some of these sights, some of the best in Maine.
To see a detailed trail map, click here.
Here’s a note we received from a Cozy Moose guest who snowmobiled
The Moosehead Trail:
To the Davis family,
I wanted to thank you for a wonderful snowmobile experience this weekend. There are not many toys my father and I have not ridden, driven or otherwise traveled in, and the snowmobile was simply great fun.
Also, it may interest you that my wife used the Internet to [locate] you. I think she…liked the fact that your sleds were new and your website was very informative and easy to use.
The Cozy Moose on Moosehead Lake offers spectacular snowmobile vacation getaway packages that include lodging, private guided tour and snowmobile apparel. We will be glad to help you plan your next snowmobile vacation, assist with snowmobile rental information for your outdoor adventure or romantic getaway.