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Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge

Location: Limestone
Region: Aroostook County
Activities: Walking, wildlife watching, birding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing
Dog and Family Friendly

Want to spot some Maine wildlife? Visit The Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge. The area, once overflown by Air Force bombers, now offers a wild and quiet place for wildlife watchers and birders alike. And you’ll probably get a nice walk in the bargain.

Green Heart of Northern Maine

The Refuge was created in 1998 on a large slice of the now-closed Loring Air Force Base. That huge installation was once home to scores of people along with the Cold War bombers, freighters and aerial-refueling planes.

The thousands of acres set aside for the Refuge includes lots of rolling hills, forested with hardwood and softwood such as spruce and fir. Tucked within those hills are numerous wetlands – bogs, streams, marshes and ponds. There’s even 300 acres of grassland managed by the Refuge.

Exploring the Refuge

Access is good for people on foot, skis or snowshoes. About 13 miles of trails wind through the Refuge’s three ‘units.’ Some trails are groomed in winter for skis and snowshoes. Dogs are allowed to come along if they’re leashed.

Those trails are open daily, year-round. Check the Refuge website for information on possible facility and programming closures.

Spotting Wildlife

Because of its varied terrain, the Refuge attracts dozens of species of birds and other animals – some year-round natives, others seasonal visitors. Birders can go wild (no pun intended). There are at least 165 bird species, including 20 species of wood warblers, 7 species of thrushes, 10 species of waterfowl and a host of raptors. Some of these birds migrate all the way north to Aroostook from South America.

Look carefully and you might also spot white-tailed deer, snowshoe hare, beaver, lynx, river otter, mink, ermine, coyote and, the monarch of the Refuge, moose.

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