I’ve driven by it dozens of times but never had the time to stop. Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge in Baring covers a daunting 17,257 acres and over 50 miles of roads and trails but today was the day.
It was a hot, sunny, summer day in Downeast Maine and that can only mean one thing: get outside quick and enjoy the weather before Mother Nature changes her mind.
I drove to Baring with my friend, Rose, who wasn’t intimidated in the least by over 17,000 acres, after all it wasn’t as if we were going to walk all 50 miles of trails, right?
She may not have been intimidated but she may have raised an eyebrow when we encountered this sign upon entry to the refuge:
We arrived at the Headquarters building, got a map of the refuge and we were on our way down “Mile Bridge Road”, a 2.7 mile gravel trail.
“It’s very pretty out here, very serene,” I remarked to Rose, who was busy swatting a mosquito.
“Yes, it is, ” she said and swatted at another blood sucker that I swear was the size of a baby pterodactyl, “we should have brought bug spray.”
Note to self: next time bring heavy duty bug spray or pay the price.
The gravel trail was well marked and easy going. It would definitely be a great place to take trail/mountain bikes. Nonmotorized bikes are allowed in the refuge.
Through forests of fir, aspen, and maple we walked. We saw snakes, frogs, and hundreds of iridescent blue dragonflies buzzing, bobbing, and weaving (do they eat mosquitoes?).
Fields of wild blueberries stretched across wide meadows so bring containers because everyone is allowed to pick two quarts of blueberries per person per day–free of charge.
We stood snacking on wild blackberries so juicy it brought tears of joy to my eyes when I realized that the silence was absolute ( except for the sound of Rose killing mosquitoes). The woodland and all its creatures were still, watching us, I’m sure.
We kept our eyes peeled for moose but didn’t see a single one. Considering they weigh over 1000 pounds, stand seven feet at the shoulder, and have a stride over three feet long, it could be a good thing we only saw moose tracks.
Moosehorn is a bird watcher’s paradise. At least 220 different types of birds have been identified: loons, eagles, geese and ducks, plovers, owls, hummingbirds…the list is immense. Bring your binoculars (and your bug repellent) and enjoy the spectacular show. There are also observation decks for viewing bald eagles.
If you’re interested, you can join wildlife biologists when they tag and band waterfowl and woodcocks, just make arrangements ahead of time.
The refuge is open during daylight hours, dogs are allowed on leashes, and the refuge is free for everyone to enjoy. Fishing is allowed in some locations, too.
(To avoid confusion, there are two divisions of Moosehorn Wildlife Refuge: Baring and Edmunds. Edmunds provides an additional 7,200 acres of wildlife conservancy).
For more information on Moosehorn, including directions, please visit their website.
And the sign warning of bears crossing? Thankfully we didn’t see bears either; they were probably holed up, hiding from the mosquitoes.