36 Hours in Rangeley
Activities: Hiking, fishing, boating, lake activities, mountains, trails, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, fat-tire biking, snowmobiling, museums, guides. Family-friendly. Region: Maine’s Lakes and Mountains
Among the picture-perfect western Maine mountains and pristine waterways is the Rangeley Lakes Region, aptly named for the many lakes sparkling among the natural terrain. At the heart of the region is the charming small town of Rangeley, which also incorporates the tiny, but adorable village of Oquossoc.
The region encompasses six large lakes renowned for fishing, and dozens of other smaller lakes and streams. Here is where Maine’s first Registered Guide, Fly Rod Crosby spent much of her time and where modern fly-fishing was born along with some of the most famous flies, like Carrie Stevens’ Gray Ghost.
You’ll discover a myriad of outdoor activities, whatever the season. Whether you are enjoying the magic of a slower pace of life by the lake or gliding through some of the 190 miles of groomed trails available on a snowmobile, there is no shortage of opportunities to unplug and get out there. A jewel in the region is Rangeley Lakes State Park covering 869 acres to enjoy hiking, picnicking, camping, wildlife watching, and winter sports, as well as fishing and hunting. After a day on the water or in your hiking boots, Rangeley has plentiful accommodations and restaurants ready to welcome you.
On the Water
With six large lakes and hundreds of other smaller lakes and streams, a major attraction of the region is its diverse water activities. Fish, boat, paddle, swim – you name it, it’s all possible. Don’t have a boat? No problem! Rentals are available in town (there are also stand-up paddle boards, kayaks and more available to rent for those who may prefer to go motor-free). Discover the bountiful gifts of the lake with a fishing trip (fishing license required). From the world-class trout that initially attracted visitors to Atlantic salmon, Rangeley is a premier fishing destination.
On the Trail
From leisurely nature walks to advanced mountain hiking, there is something for everyone in the family.
The Rangeley Lakes Trails Center: nestled at the base of Saddleback Mountain, the trails center is a four-season destination and must-visit. In the spring and summer, the rolling green hills blooming with wildflowers are perfect for hiking and biking. Come winter, the trails are turned into a snow-globe land from the average 200 inches of annual snowfall. Skiers, snowshoers and fat-tire bikers will appreciate the meticulously groomed trails. The center offers equipment rentals, so you’ll have everything you need! Don’t miss the adorably hand-crafted “Gnome Homes” lovingly placed along the trail.
The Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust: 14,000 acres and 35 miles of recreational trails await for your exploration. In the milder months, go birding among the forests, lakes and peaks to discover magnificent birds, from the rare Bicknell’s Thrush, to Boreal Chickadees. In the winter, snowshoe in the picturesque, quiet forest. A full list of their trails can be found here to help you plan your perfect adventure.
The Appalachian Trail Land Trust: For a more challenging hike, visit one of the trails surrounding the Appalachian Trail, protecting five of Maine’s 4,000-foot mountains. Try a community hike for an experience with fellow hiking-lovers.
On the Slopes
Skiers and riders rejoice! Saddleback is welcoming old and new guests with upgraded features and a new mid-mountain lodge. The terrain supports both experts and beginners. and the community atmosphere makes everyone comfortable. Besides being a great winter destination, Saddleback offers a variety of hiking and biking trails.
Drive Rangeley Lakes National Scenic Byway
The truth of the matter is that you don’t even need to leave the car to experience the beauty of the Rangeley Lakes region! Make your way through the western mountains of Maine from the comfort of your car—you’ll pass expanses of forest, farmland and dazzling lakes, ponds and streams. A must-stop is Height of Land, an incredibly stunning and expansive overlook of the Rangeley Lakes region and mountains beyond.
Rain got you feeling blue, or feeling like a more low-key activity? Don’t despair—Rangely is home to unique museums, and a bowling alley kids will love. • The Outdoor Heritage Museum is an award-winning museum that has galleries filled with artifacts ranging from 14,000-year-old Native American objects to the items from President Eisenhower’s famed fly-fishing trip to the region in 1955. Their rotation of new exhibits keeps things fresh, visit after visit. Be sure to stop by the gift shop for something to take home that reminds you of your Rangeley adventure. • The Maine Forestry Museum: Open seasonally, this museum offers a sneak peek into Maine’s history of logging, and a gift shop with wooden treasures. • Moose Alley: This state-of-the-art bowling alley not only boasts an electronic scoring system and expansive grounds, but a café, bar and grill that serves everything from lemon ricotta pancakes at breakfast, to an assortment of wings and flatbread pizza. • The Rangeley Friends of the Arts group hosts movies, concerts and other events. Be sure to check their schedule for your next visit to the area.
Eat and Drink
Rangeley and Oquossoc are great for family-friendly dining experiences—delicious food often featuring regional ingredients, without the fuss. • Parkside & Main: From classic coastal town fare like fish and chips to filling meals of beef-BBQ brisket, you’ll enjoy this restaurant that offers outdoor deck seating in the summer months overlooking the sparkling lake. • Portage Tap House: For regional fare with a “kick of the South,” head to Portage Tap House. The open kitchen and floor-to-ceiling windows, along with the twenty local beers on tap and scrumptious food, make for a great dining experience. • The Red Onion: This once historic restaurant today serves delicious and affordable fresh dough pizza, chili and daily specials.
After a day of hiking, fishing, being on the water or on the slopes, you’ll be glad to have a cozy room awaiting you come evening. Rest easy at one of these inns or cabins: • Rangeley Inn: This turn of the century inn gives a glimpse into the history of region. The carefully maintained inn’s downtown location is the perfect base for all Rangeley offers. • Rangeley Saddleback Inn: To enjoy outdoor adventures without skipping new world comforts, head to the Saddleback Inn, where a pool and jacuzzi await you after a long day. • Loon Lodge Inn: This rustic, yet elegant inn offers cozy guest rooms, fine dining and tavern fare. • Rangeley Town & Lake: You can’t get much closer to the lake than this expanse of rooms and cottages located directly on Rangeley Lake. You’ll also have great access to Rangeley’s retail shops and restaurants. • The Rangeley Lakes area boasts several traditional sporting camps and wilderness lodges.
Mileage: From Ellsworth: 140 miles From Portland: 131 miles From Bangor: 114 miles From Lewiston/Auburn: 84 miles From Augusta: 76 miles