|Top of Trumble Mountain|
It is no secret that in recent years, Maine has witnessed an explosion in the number of All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) clubs, events and trail systems. This increased interest, accelerated by an extensive network of logging roads, old railways and thousands of miles of snowmobile trails, has helped to fuel a healthy increase in the quality and quantity of ATV trails available to discover. ATV riders are finding many areas of the state, previously off limits to ATVs, are now open. One of the largest factors, spurring this exciting growth and additional riding opportunities, comes from the sizable baby boomer population. Many in this generation, are approaching or now retired and able to invest considerable time organizing and running ATV groups or spending long weekends touring the back country, with others ATV enthusiasts sharing their passion for the outdoors. For this group of veteran sportsmen, ATVs afford an easier means of exploring the remote corners of the state, the low rumble of the ATV replacing footfalls, as many of this generation become less willing or able to hike miles into the back country, in pursuit of their outdoor passions.
|Boys Being Boys - Stone Dam, Nashes Lake|
Local ATV clubs invest a lot of time and money in maintaining these trails and making sure visitors have an enjoyable ATVing experience. To honor them, please stay on marked trails and make sure to pack out any garbage generated in the course of the trip. ATVing in Maine is a unique wilderness experience, so lets all do our part to ensure it remains as such. Even better, join a local ATV club and help make sure trail systems stay clean and safe for all riders.
Understanding the growing interest in ATV riding, many towns, stores and campgrounds have begun catering to the ATV crowd. State laws limiting paved road travel restriction, are waived in some towns to facilitate ATV rider access to trail connections, gas and supplies. For campers, it is becoming increasingly more common to be able to leave directly from the campground and jump directly on a trail system. As this service is not available at all campground facilities, it pays when selecting a campground to call ahead and ask about their ATV policy. Last summer, I made the mistake of not inquiring about trail access direct from the campground and was forced to trailer my ATV to and from the trail head before and after each ride. This inconvenience greatly complicated access and stopped any chance of spur of the moment riding opportunities, putting a dampener on our trip . . . when in doubt ALWAYS ask.
|Lunch at Hundred Acre Wood Cabin|
On my trip to Washington County, we stayed at Keen’s Lake Campground in Red Beach. This quaint ATV friendly campground has quiet wooded campsites and ample space for parking equipment. Amenities exist such as a small store and a beach but the campgrounds biggest draw, is its direct access to a massive area ATV trail system and the Downeast Sunrise Trail (http://www.sunrisetrail.org).
The Calais trail head also has several unique attractions, such as Trumble Mountain, boasting expansive views of St. Andrews, Canada and the St. Croix River Valley. Also a short ride away, on the northern end of Nashes Lake, is an impressive 30 foot high hand build stone dam constructed in the 1800s, to facilitate logging operations and to this day still holds back the waters of this man made lake. For the photographer or nature lover looking to spot wildlife, the area is abundant with bear, moose, deer and many other furry critters. Evening trips, done slowly and with watchful eye are the best way to see these animals.
My trip to Washington County was highlighted by the presence of my two sons, who at 3 and 5 years old are already ATV fanatics. Sporting their racing helmets and possessing a go, go, go attitude, they are the perfect camping and 4 wheeling companions. When ATV riding with small children, it is important to take frequent breaks and continually fuel small bodies with food and water. Packing a picnic lunch and reviewing a trail map for kid friendly stops is an easy way to ensure kids take pleasure in ATV riding.
|Don't Mess with these ATV Riding Roughnecks!|
While trail riding, I always wear a helmet as a safety measure and to serve as a good role model for my children. Despite these precautions, an accident this season, unloading my ATV from the back of a friends trailer, left me badly bruised and suffering from a nasty case of road rash. Adding to the potential for harm, I was not wearing my helmet. I was very fortunate I was able to learn a valuable lesson without fracturing my skull. Whenever operating an ATV a helmet should be worn, from the moment the key is turned on to the moment it is turned off. In the state of Maine, children under 10 years of age cannot operate and ATV, 10-16 years of age cannot operate an ATV without first completing an ATV training course. Though critical for riders of all ages, protective headgear is required of any ATV riders under 18 years of age.
For more on Maine ATV laws please see: http://www.maine.gov/ifw/laws_rules/atvlaws.htm
For more from the Maine Outdoorsman on ATV riding with small children, be sure to also read ATV Riding with Kids!