Sitting atop Maine in a bend of the St. John River, Fort Kent is a great place for playing outdoors or jumping off for a quick visit to neighboring Canada.
Fort Kent remains closely linked to its Canadian neighbors. Folks cross the border often to shop and visit. French and English are widely spoken throughout the St. John River Valley. And playing outdoors is popular on both sides of the line, with snowmobiling, skiing and snowshoeing popular in the winter and boating, fishing, ATVing and hiking filling the warmer months.
The University of Maine at Fort Kent is one of the two public universities in Aroostook County, with the river wending through the beautiful campus that sits at the foot of Lonesome Pine Trails ski area.
Fort Kent began as a small military installation during the Aroostook War of the late 1830s. This war without battles was really a simmering border dispute involving Maine and Canada. Both sides wanted to grab as much of the region’s rich timberland as it could. The conflict ended with a treaty fixing the final line, which runs right down the St. John River and around the town. You can visit the original fort blockhouse built during the war, which is preserved as the Fort Kent State Historic Site.
Things to Do in Fort Kent
In the winter, bundle up and enjoy the Can Am Crown Sled Dog Races. The longest of those races – a tough, 250-mile contest - serves as a qualifier for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska. Fort Kent also hosts New England’s northernmost downhill ski area, Lonesome Pine Trails. The small area is cut into the woods on a broad hillside. Nearby is the Fort Kent Outdoor Center, which holds a number of national and international Nordic Ski and Biathlon events. It’s also a great place for a day of cross-country skiing or snowshoeing.
There’s also plenty to do in the warmer months. You can attend The Ploye Festival (a ploye is a type of pancake). You can also compete – or just watch - the Annual Fort Kent International Muskie Fishing Derby and chase the monster fish in the St. John River and its tributaries. The Fort Kent Outdoor Center is also open for mountain biking and hiking on its many trails.
Restaurants in Fort Kent
Looking for some Fort Kent restaurants? Consider the Mill Bridge Restaurant, the Swamp Buck Restaurant or the Mooseshack II. Also check here for additional spots and scroll down to see the list of regional businesses.
Where to Stay in Fort Kent
There are hotels, motels and sporting camps in Fort Kent and in the nearby communities of Eagle Lake and Madawaska. Consider the Northern Door Inn in Fort Kent; Martin's Motel in Madawaska; Eagle Lake Sporting Camps in Eagle Lake; The Inn of Acadia in Madawaska and the Gateway Motel in Madawaska. For more suggestions, scroll down our list of regional businesses below.