Scenic day trips are a great option while visiting the Wolf Cove Inn. With our location in the central Maine lakes region, the Inn is the ideal launching point for exploring the beauty of Maine to the north, south, east and west, or even New Hampshire to the west or Canada to the north. Today I will focus on the Scenic Day Trips, most of which are full day trips. Follow on musings will highlight Adventure Day Trips and Shopping Day Trips.
Scenic Day Trips
To Camden, Maine
Camden, Maine is one of the quaintest, most beautiful places on the coast of Maine. With it’s breathtaking harbor, extensive shops and restaurants, and wonderful views of Penobscot Bay, and only about two hours from the Inn, this is a trip worth taking.
Though you can get there a bit quicker going through Augusta, I recommend you pick up route 1 in Freeport for a scenic coastal Maine drive passing through Brunswick, Wiscasset (stop at Red’s Eats for Maine’s best lobster roll), Newcastle, Damariscotta and Rockport along the way. Take a side trip to Harpswell or Boothbay Harbor for scenic coastal inspiration. From the Inn, head straight across route 11 onto Tripp Lake Road and follow to the end where it intersects with route 26. Take a right and follow all the way to Freeport where you will take a left onto route 1. Route 1 takes you to Camden.
Once in Camden head down to the harbor for lunch or a windjammer cruise, take in the sites or do some shopping. You could even head a little further north of downtown Camden and explore Camden Hills State Park.
Backtrack to the Inn on the reverse route, or you can elect to go through Augusta for the slightly shorter trip back. If you do this, be sure to stop at The Red Barn restaurant for the absolute best seafood chowder – all seafood, no potato fillers.
Wolf Cove Inn to Freeport – 28 miles. Freeport to Camden 64 miles. Camden to Wolf Cove Inn via Augusta – 84 miles. Stopping at The Red Barn – +13 miles.
The “European” Tour
Explore the local region with a loop that takes you south to Naples, then west through Bridgton, north through Harrison into Norway and finally southeast through Oxford back to Poland. You will find many scenic lake and hill vistas along with charming small towns with nice shops and restaurants. You’ll find interesting things to do along the way as well. For instance, in Naples you can go for a riverboat ride on the Songo River Queen. While in Bridgton you can explore the Shawnee Peak Resort area. While in Norway, pop over to the adjacent town of South Paris and visit Mclaughlin Gardens.
Suggested loop is route 11 south to Naples, then route 302 west to Bridgton, followed by route 117 north to Norway, route 26 south back to Poland and route 11 south back to the Wolf Cove Inn.
53 miles round trip.
“Around the Block”
A really big block. On this trip, you’ll knock off three of the rooms at Inn – Rangeley Lake, The Bigelows and Sugarloaf Mountain. You will experience many faces of Maine from lakes to mountains, valleys to farmland, and quaint villages to old mill towns. And in the stretch between Rangeley and Stratton/Eustis you will pass through “Moose Alley”. I probably don’t need to say what you might see.
For the northward portion of the trip take route 11 north to 26 north to 232 north to 2 east to 17 north to 4 east to 16 east. You will be in Rangeley at this point. There is a very nice scenic overlook a few miles south of Rangeley. There is also a landmark called “Height of the Land” in Rangeley that is worth a stop.
For the return leg from the scenic overlook, head back on rt 4 west into Rangeley center and pick up route 16 east. You are now in Moose Alley. Follow 16 until you are in Stratton/Eustis, then pick up route 27. For a nice side trip you can go left on 27 to a scenic spot on Flagstaff Lake, formerly a small natural lake that was made much larger with the damming of the Dead River for hydroelectric power. You will have a great view of the Bigelows Range from here. Or just turn right on 27 and head toward Carrabassett Valley.
Once in the valley you will quickly see Sugarloaf Mountain Ski Resort on your right, our winter home! If it’s a Thursday, Saturday or Sunday you can hop on a scenic chair lift ride from the base of the Superquad chairlift (get tickets in the Village). You’ll experience the ski mountain and will have breathtaking views of The Bigelows mountain range and the Crockers. You can also rent Segways, do a zipline tour, or for the more ambitious hike up the mountain (trust me – don’t hike up the Widowmaker trail!).
Or you can pop into the club house at the golf course for a great lunch (the Cubana is great). Be sure to walk over to the area of the 10th tee for one of the most beautiful panoramic vistas you will see. Eating outside on the patio affords wonderful views of the ninth fairway with the Bigelow range as a backdrop.
Alternatively the Valley has a wonderful single- and double-track mountain biking network. The entire network can be accessed from the Sugarloaf Outdoor Center about a 1/2 mile south of the Sugarloaf access road on rt 27.
To finish your journey follow route 27 south to 4 south in Farmington to 117 east in Turner to 124 south in Turner to 11 south in Mechanics Falls and back to the Inn.
Wolf Cove Inn to Rangeley – 91 Miles. Rangeley to Stratton/Eustis – 19 miles. Stratton/Eustis to Carrabassett Valley – 12 miles. Carrabassett Valley to Wolf Cove Inn – 87 miles.
To Lincoln, New Hampshire via the Kancamagus Highway
The Kancamagus Highway (also known as the Kancamagus Scenic Byway) is one of the most popular drives, particularly in the fall, in all New England. Connecting Lincoln, New Hampshire with Conway, New Hampshire you will meander through the White Mountains passing soaring peaks, cool mountain streams and majestic soft and hardwoods. You will pass the Swift River, Sabbaday Falls, Lower Falls and Rocky Gorge. The Kanc takes you to an elevation of just under 3,000 feet at its highest point at Kancamagus Pass on the flank of Mt. Kancamagus near Lincoln, NH. There are plenty of restaurants and shops in both towns and along the way. You might also take the gondola to the top of Loon Mountain Ski Resort.
From the Inn take route 11 south. In Naples get on route 302 west and follow into New Hampshire. Once in Conway you will pick up route 112 which is the Kancamagus Highway.
For the return trip you could just backtrack. However if you want to make a “loop” of it, head through Franconia Notch (site of the Old Man of the Mountain), Crawford Notch, Bartlett and North Conway then back to the Inn via Conway. Adding this loop will really give you some additional exhilarating scenes in the White Mountains.
Wolf Cove Inn to Conway, NH – 45 miles. Conway, NH to Lincoln, NH – 36 miles. Lincoln, NH to Wolf Cove Inn – 81 miles. Adding the “loop” option – +69 miles.
To The Canadian Border.
Yes, it’s true, drive to the Canadian border (or into Canada if you have your passport)! We’ve had guests notice how close (sort of) it is and just wanted the experience of driving to the border crossing at Coburn Gore. You can use the same route as “around the block” above and at the intersection of 16 and 27 in Stratton/Eustis, head north on route 27. There are some majestic mountain and woodland views along the way. Cathedral Pines is a nice easy hike through some very tall pines that is adjacent to the Cathedral Pines Camp Ground. For the kayakers, there is also the Chain of Ponds to keep you busy.
Stratton to Coburn Gore – 28 miles.
These are just some of the scenic day trips which you can begin from the Wolf Cove Inn. And there are so many more! We hope you enjoy each and every one!