Sometimes it seems like being ‘outdoorsy” requires a significant financial investment. Case in point – my kids love camping and since I am more of a….how can I put this…hotel girl, we did not camp when the kids were younger; it something that they picked up from friends and their outdoor youth group, YETI. For the past several years for each birthday and Christmas I buy them some type of camping equipment from below zero sleeping bags to one-man tents (which are significantly more money than a roomy 6 person tent – why is that?). I’ve purchased hatchets, packable cook wear, hand warmers, hiking shoes, backpacks, special thermal underwear and all kinds of other do-dads that make trail camping enjoyable and safe. I am happy to do it – I think it’s great that my kids get to experience the beauty of Franklin County up close and personal and that sleeping outside in sub-zero temperatures in January doesn’t bother them – if nothing else, they are resilient.
But what about those people who are looking for a slightly smaller and less ominous adventure in the Maine Wilderness? Those people who don’t want to (or can’t) invest in a lot of outdoor equipment? One of the best things about living in Maine is the abundance of free outdoor adventures, suited for any number of fitness levels and budgets. No matter if all you’re looking for is a walk after dinner, or a weekend hiking the AT through the mountains, Maine has something for you. Franklin County has something for you. To help you get started, I’ve included three of my favorite local walks/hike from quick and easy to an all day affair.
Quick and Easy After Dinner Stroll: Bonney, Clifford, and Flint Woods in Farmington
I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I lived in F-Town for over a decade before I finally got around to exploring Bonney, Clifford, and Flint Woods. What a pleasant surprise! Totaling more than six miles combined, these walking trails offer the quiet of the woods, while being easily accessible from the downtown. There are lots of interesting things to see including old water wells, a hidden cemetery, and some great views of the northern mountains.
A Saturday Afternoon Adventure: Cascade Stream Gorge Trail
You’ve probably heard of Smalls Falls and seen the turnout for it on Route 4 just before you get to Rangeley. Cascade Stream Gorge is just up Route 4 a little further, on the right. It is definitely one of those “in the know” places – the parking and signage is tucked into a little driveway off the main road.
A short hike in reveals some beautiful waterfalls tumbling through a deep ravine. Combine this walk with Smalls Falls for a fun afternoon family outing. Note- the conditions at both Cascade Stream Gorge and Smalls Falls can be slippery, so wear proper footwear (i.e. no flip flops) and keep small children close.
All Day Affair: Tumbledown Mountain in Weld
I’ve hiked the Brook Trail the most often, and while it’s easier than the Loop Trail, it still requires stamina and a certain degree of agility. Read about my experiences in this article I wrote for the Daily Bulldog.
Find more walking and hiking trail information – in and out of Franklin County- at the Maine Trail Finder, including trailhead directions, fitness level recommendations, photographs, and comments from other hikers.