By Mike Grass
Getting to the position of MSA President has taken me all over the state of Maine. Saying these are some of my favorite rides in no way say that some parts of Maine are better than others. These just happen to be some of the ones I’ve experienced firsthand. Maine snowmobile clubs all over the state produce an unmatched product. When I was MSA Trails Chairman, my goal for many years was to ride all 3500+/- miles of ITS trail. Needless to say, over my 10 years at that position, I never even came close. As VP and now President, I usually end up riding a lot of the same miles every year but always try to add some new miles with that same goal in mind. I’ve done fairly well at covering the Northern Region and most of central Maine. Living in Plymouth, most years I have a decent window of riding from home. Some years the trailer gets a lot of miles, some not. Anyhow, here are some of my favorite rides.
Every year, my father and I spend 5 days in Frenchville, ME., riding the trails of the St. John Valley and upper Northern Region trails. We always bring some of our snowmobile buddies to make our stay that much better. We always go the last week of January that doesn’t fall in February as we always wanted to be home for the Pine Tree Ride In. Many years this trip has been our first riding of the year with lack of snow in Plymouth. We always enjoy taking ITS 85 South over to Ft. Kent to Rock’s Diner for breakfast. After breakfast we stroll down ITS 85 south again to Portage where we pick up ITS 90 east, which we follow all the way to Limestone. In Limestone, we head north on ITS 81 a short ways to the Rendevouz restaurant for their famous pizza. You never know who you’re going to meet at the “Rendevouz”. Two years ago, we met 5 Border Patrol Agents on sleds there and the year before met former Nascar driver Andy Santerre there with his tour guide Randy MacDonald. Leaving the Rendevous and heading north on ITS 81 again, you’ll hit the famous Maine border trail, as everyone calls it. Its granite border markers are always a photo stop as well as its fantastic views and terrain.
We continue on ITS 81 through Van Buren and onto Grand Isle where ITS 81 ends at ITS 83. We take ITS 83 south to Lakeview for dinner (prime rib is my favorite) and a quick ride on local trail brings us back to our nightly accommodations. This is a full day ride at a moderate speed, of about 200 +/- miles that most experienced riders can accomplish easily. This ride is mostly big logging roads and huge fields as well as some smaller logging roads and just fantastic views along the St. John River as well as many other places.
Leave Newport and head west on ITS 84, through Palmyra, Pittsfield, Hartland, Athens and Cornville. Lots of farmland and woods trails on this section. After leaving Cornville and continuing on ITS 84 you head towards Solon. A little ways before ITS 87, there is an alternate route that you can take up through the Bingham windmills. It’s quite a site and the trail runs right through them. Last time, I continued on ITS 84 until I reached ITS 87, just north of Solon. Heading north on 87 you’ll go through Bingham (gas and services) and up through Moscow, Caratunk and into the Forks. There are quite a few places to stop for lunch and/or gas, like Maine Lakeside Cabins, Northern Outdoors, Inn by the River and Berries Store, just to name a few. Next, take ITS 86 east to Greenville, with its many restaurants and services for riders, like Flatlanders, Stress Free Moose Pub, Kelly’s Landing and Moosehead Motorsports, again, just to name a few. And finally, take ITS 85 south to Newport. You’ll find many services all along this route (old rail bed) like Robinson’s, The Farmers Table and Bear’s One Stop, again to name a few. This is a full day ride at a moderate speed, covering about 200 miles with various terrains. This ride consists of true woods trails, twitch roads, logging roads and rail bed. Views of the Sebasticook River, Kennebec River, numerous mountains, windmills and more can be seen along this route through central Maine.
Leaving Newport again, head north on ITS 85/84. In Corinna, take ITS 84 east to Stetson and pick up ITS 83 north. 83 will take you through Levant, Corinth, Charleston and Atkinson. In Atkinson continue on ITS 83 towards Milo. When you get into Milo, you cross one of many cool snowmobile bridges in Maine over the Sebec River. Continue on ITS 83 north and before the ‘big green bridge” take a left on ITS 82 then take a right on ITS connector 110. Connector 110 will take you through Brownville and up to KI (lots of pictures taken here by the old kiln). Leaving KI on 110 will take you northwest through some beautiful mountain ridges with awesome views and a final climb up and over just before the intersection of ITS 85/86. Take ITS 85/86 south/west to Greenville and then ITS 85 south to Newport. This route again is a full day ride at a moderate speed, of about 200 miles. It takes you through crop fields in the Corinth area, outskirts of Milo, a cool cable bridge, old railroad grade from Brownville to KI, wide logging roads north of KI with spectacular views of area mountains and Moosehead lake. It then brings you into Greenville with its many amenities and south down 85 to Newport. Gas and food are available in Stetson, Corinth, Milo, Brownville, Greenville and many places after Greenville on this route.
These are just three of many rides I usually do every year. Depending on snow conditions, planning a day trip in Maine is fairly easy using the MSA ITS Map. It has mileages right on the map from each corresponding intersection. Finding gas and services information takes a little bit of online research or talking to a local club representative who will gladly pass on information about the local area. I have mentioned some businesses in this article but there are many more that support MSA and their local clubs and trail systems. Please support as many as you can this season with all the restrictions placed on them, it has been hard for everyone.
I hope you find these rides interesting and helpful in planning a trip this winter. I have ventured to other areas of the state as well, including Farmington, Kingfield, Rangeley, Jackman, Millinocket, Shin Pond, Sherman, Monticello, Caribou, Presque Isle, Ashland, Easton and Mars Hill to name a few. All of them had great trails, vistas, views and services for riders that are second to none. All areas of Maine have awesome clubs that produce some of the best riding in the country. Set a date, pick an area and plan a trip. Invite others to tag along and experience somewhere new.
See why Maine is considered a must do by snowmobilers from all over the country.
Maine, the way life should be!