Early summer NE trip: help me plan

4:58 p.m. on March 29, 2005 (EST)
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Anyone from the New England Area want to help someone from the West plan a 1 week car camping (I know, I'd rather backpack too) trip somewhere in the area? This will be in early June or late May, probably.

I'm meeting a friend who has never camped before, and would like to introduce them to the outdoors without forcing them to crap in the woods too many times. I figure a pleasant experience the first time will help ease the transition into full-on backcountry stuff later. You know, baby steps... I'm curious as to what folks familiar with the area would recommend seeing and doing. We're going for an appropriate amount of awe at the natural beauty combined with reasonably easy access. Thanks in advance for your help.

11:42 a.m. on March 31, 2005 (EST)
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Justin -

I do not live in the NE, but did live there for several years some time back. Assuming things haven't changed all that much, here are a couple suggestions for a car camp trek over a week.

Acadia National Park in Maine - lots of nice hikes, interesting beaches (rocky, cobbles, one sand beach), lots of interesting birds. You can drive to the top of the high point on Mt Desert Island (Cadillac Mountain). Too bad it is early summer. The best time in my opinion (for all New England for that matter) is late summer when the berries are ripe (in Acadia, you can stuff yourself from hills covered with blueberry, blackberry, red and black raspberry bushes, plus mountain cranberries - but have to cook these. Similar loads of berries elsewhere in NE)

Mt Baxter - Katahdin is a fun hike, although your friend may not be into hiking enough to do that. Still, lots to see and do.

New Hampshire, especially the White Mountains around the Presidentials. Lots of great hikes and great scenery. If your friend is not into hiking (day hikes up various of the Presidentials offer lots of scenery), then the cog railway up Washington is fun for lots of people (well, ok, be cheap and drive your car up the terrorizing winding road like all the other tourists - the terror is all the other tourists who don't know how to drive a mountain road).

Vermont's Green Mountains, NY Adirondacks, I could go on for pages. You might even consider going into Canada to the Gaspe Peninsula and camping in Parc Gaspesie (most fantastic fall colors I have ever seen, but go there about the last week in Sept to first week in Oct, way earlier than New England fall colors).

Maybe this is too many choices. Try the first two or three - Acadia, Baxter State Park, White Mountains. When you are driving from place to place, take as many of the back roads as possible, rather than the interstates. NE back roads are really great, lots of picture postcard scenes. Hey, instead of driving, bicycle the back roads.

Hmmm, one problem. Depending on exactly when you are there, New England has lots of black flies and noseeums in spring and early summer. Take your DEET and headnet.

2:50 p.m. on March 31, 2005 (EST)
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Thanks for the tips, Bill.

As I read more about NE in early summer, a common theme seems to be black flies. We don't deal with too many bugs here in AZ, but I think I could prepare us for them with appropriate chemical/physical protection. This is a little worrisome because it's my companions first real trip, and going home with serious itching is not conducive to future camping...

With regards to sites, the three places I've began to focus on are the Presidentials, Khatadin, and Acadia. I'm a little hesitant about Khatadin because I have an intrinsic desire to be at the top of high places, and it might be a bit strenuous for a newbie. Acadia seems like a nice relaxed destination, with plenty to do. The Presidentials would be sweet, but again, if I can see Mt. Washington, I'll probably try to ascend it... and that's not a trivial hike.

Any more specific opinions on when and where we can go (minimizing the black fly issue is a plus)? I'd also welcome stories from peoples experiences camping in NE in the early summer. My impression is that experienced New Englanders wait until mid-June to go outdoors.

4:08 p.m. on March 31, 2005 (EST)
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Bill's suggestions are spot on. A couple additional observations about the premier destinations here in Maine:

Late spring is a great time to go to Acadia. The park is a zoo in the summer, but nearly deserted the rest of the year. It would also be condusive to your goals. The old carriage road network is great for mellow walking or biking, and there are a ton of hikes of all distances and difficulties within minutes of wherever you are on the island. The high point of the park (and the eastern seaboard) is Cadillac Mountain, which can be summitted by foot or vehicle, depending on your partner's level of interest. There are also plenty of opportunites for sea kayaking and climbing, though some of the climbs will be closed at that time of year due to peregrine falcon nesting. Acadia has a ton of variety, so you're likely to find something that everyone can enjoy.

For pure "wow" factor, go to Baxter State Park and hike the three flat-ish miles from Roaring Brook campground in to Chimney Pond at the base of Mt. Katahdin's Great Basin. This is probably to most impressive mountain vista in the east, and you don't even have to climb the mountain to get there. Once you're there, of course, you will want to climb it. So if that temptation is going to cause problems, you might want to go elsewhere. Also, the black flies will be out in great force at Katahdin at that time of year. But as black fly season ends, campground reservations become even harder to come by, since entry into the park and capacity at each campground is severely limited.

For the best of both worlds, you could spend the majority of your week in Acadia and do an overnighter or day trip to Katahdin. Just be sure to go to Katahdin midweek, call ahead, and show up early.

1:56 p.m. on April 2, 2005 (EST)
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Acadia national park is so crowded that you have to ride a bus and leave your car at another parking lot--too many people but still a very nice place --Mt katahdin not for beginners or cars very tough hike but nice view if you make it. Any campsite in Maine is good but the really nice places are too crowded for me. the exceptions are the ones that require work to get there like the 100 mile wilderness on the AT in monson Maine.--tinny--WWW.MINIBULLDESIGN.COM

10:47 a.m. on April 3, 2005 (EDT)
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Yeah, Acadia is a zoo in the summer. But avoid the Memorial Day-to-Labor Day high season, and it's pretty enjoyable. Go in April or October and you'll feel like you have the place to yourself.

11:49 a.m. on April 11, 2005 (EDT)
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Thanks to everyone for their comments and advice. I've refined my options down a bit, and have some more specific questions now. Since we'll be there the week before Labor Day, would you expect that Acadia will still be super-busy? If yes, what would it be better to stay in Isle au Haut or maybe Lamoine SP? Are they less busy? We'd like to spend a couple days in the area. The other place that is starting to look nice is the Moosehead Lake/Greenville area. Mt. Kineo appears to have a pretty sweet effort/payoff ratio, and the Moose festival might be cool too. Any place that you can think of to pitch a tent for a couple nights?

11:50 a.m. on April 11, 2005 (EDT)
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Correction: "Labor Day" should read "Memorial Day"

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