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The Best Microadventures In Each Of The Northeastern States

Uproxx
For the next few months, Uproxx GPS is zeroing in on “microadventures” — day trips, quick jaunts, and small-scale explorations that will notch neatly into your busy life. As part of this initiative, we’re counting off the best day trips in five different regions of the country. Today we’re in the Northeast — where you can spend the bulk of your time on the water and in old growth forests!

As the “Best Micro Adventures in Each State” articles and other pieces in our Uproxx GPS series have been driving home, a microadventure is simply a small sojourn in nature. It’s a time to step away from your phone and computer and immerse yourself in the wilderness for a bit. You don’t have to go far, and you don’t have to stay long. One night under the stars is satisfying enough to keep you grounded when you go back to the routines of your daily life.

In an effort to help you get your microadventure on, we’ve compiled five guides based on regions of the United States. Having covered the West, Southwest, Midwest, and Southeast, we are wrapping things up in the Northeast. These 11 states offer natural waterslides, spectacular multi-state views, and feral ponies. Yes. Wild f*cking horses.

Maine: Cutler Coast Public Lands

We love headlands and really promontories of all types, which is why they keep popping up in these lists. Steep sea cliffs; rocky shores; high, breaking waves and tide pools delight us. The Cutler Coast Public Lands includes 4.5 miles of headlands broken up by beaches and pocket coves, plus blueberry barrens, heaths, and woodlands. It’s a 12,234-acre stretch of land that includes 10 miles of trails and some of the best views in the state.

European explorers first arrived around 1605, and settlers followed in 1785, but an archeological expedition in 1984 revealed fire-cracked rocks and stone tools — indicating the area was used by native people for centuries. Cutler Coast lived a number of previous lives as a sawmill, a dairy farm, and a cheese factory, before being heavily harvested for spruce and fir pulp. Maine acquired the central part of the existing public lands in 1989, and in 1997, a generous donation from The Conservation Fund/Richard King Mellon Foundation and Maine Coast Heritage Trust quadrupled the size of the preserve.

The State of Maine reports three primitive campsites at Fairy Head (though some people feel like there are at least a couple more established spots) that are operated on a first come, first served with no reservations. Truth be told, you have to get a little lucky to snag a spot during the loveliest times of the year. The camps have a pit toilet, but otherwise, you haul in everything that you need. Open fires are prohibited, and you have to take your trash out with you. Though this is certainly roughing it, you’ll enjoy almost total privacy and an absolutely phenomenal setting. This place is legit.

Once you set up camp bright and early, you have the rest of the day to do some exploring. Definitely spend time exploring tide pools. Then, do some hiking. Be sure to pack sturdy shoes because the terrain is rough and can be quite slippery the closer you get to boardwalks and cliffs’ edges. We really like The Black Point Brook Loop, which comes in at a 5.5 -mile round trip. It’s all wooded trails and rocky cliffside hikes for the initial part, and the return is more mellow.

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Coastal camping in Maine.

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Massachusetts: Savoy Mountain State Forest

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Located primarily in the towns of Savoy and Florida, Savoy Mountain State Forest is fairly remote. It’s situated on the Hoosac Mountain Range (an extension of the Green Mountains of Vermont) and boasts four ponds, plus seven hill and mountain summits. And, there are two pretty spectacular waterfalls. If you can, reserve a campground in early autumn to bask in the glory of the famous New England fall foliage.

In 1918, the State of Massachusetts purchased 100 acres of abandoned farmland and created the Savoy Mountain State Forest. In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps reforested the bulk of the area with Norway and Blue Spruce and built concrete dams to replace older ones. Now, there are 120 acres of old growth forest located nearby and the trees include red spruce, eastern hemlock, yellow, birch, and sugar maple. If you’re interested in exploring trees that range in age from 150 to 400-years-old, you will love hiking here.

The State Forest features 45 campsites in a former apple orchard; some of them are more remote, so try reserving one of those — the others are a bit close together. Each site has its own picnic table, food storage locker, and fire ring. The food storage locker is a big deal because this is Black Bear country, and it is vital that you limit any temptation for bears to come calling at your camp. During the main camping season, campers have access to showers, flush toilets, and a dumping station. During the off-season, campers are limited to composting toilets; the showers are turned off, and potable water is only available at the headquarters building.

There are 50 miles of wooded trails that are tremendous fun to hike year-round and most cross the trailheads at the campground. Use Busby Trail to climb Spruce Hill, which offers near 360-degree views from its summit. This is particularly cool during hawk migration. Or, try the Bog Pond Trail — a series of floating peat-moss islands set against dark tannic water channels. There may be moose, bobcat, coyote, fox, and bear sightings. You should also make a point to see Tannery Falls and Parker Brook Falls, which sit where Ross Brook travels through a deep crevasse and then drops into a calm, clear pool.

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Woke up like this 🌈

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Vermont: Allis State Park

You may have noticed that we include the occasional tourist locale, but lean more heavily toward those areas that are off-the-beaten-track. If the point of a microadventure is to connect with nature, you need some seclusion, some isolation. Allis State Park offers this. Many people actually consider it one of central Vermont’s best-kept secrets. It’s hilltop setting and small campground allow it to remain tranquil. Plus, it’s just off one of the only remaining gravel highways in the state. Typically, it’s all about day trips, picnicking, and horseshoes. But, you can do some camping, light hiking, and nature watching at Allis too.

The park is named for Wallace Allis — who willed his Bear Mountain State Farm to Vermont for the purpose of being developed into a recreational area and campground. This allowed it to be the second state park when it was established in 1928. The park was developed starting in 1932 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, who built all the access roads and constructed the picnic and campgrounds, as well as the picnic pavilion.

The campground features 18 tent/RV sites and 8 lean-tos. Campers have access to flush toilets, hot and cold running water, and showers (though they are coin-op). There aren’t any hookups, but there is a sanitary dump station, and there are tables, grills, and fireplaces. Sites do vary, so check out descriptions and photos before choosing one. If you don’t have that chance, it’s still likely you will find yourself in a spacious, private site. If you end up close to neighboring campers, you will be glad to know that the campground observes quiet hours. The group site is some way from the other sites, so any late night partying shouldn’t bother you. Hell, you might even consider joining in.

Be sure to hike the Bear Hill Trail — a moderate 0.5-mile backtrail with a ton of wildflowers and great birding. And everyone has to take the time to climb the lookout tower that was erected for spotting forest fires. On a clear day, you can look south and see Killington, Pico, and Mt Ascutney peaks; look to the north and see Camel’s Hump and Mt. Mansfield; look west and see Abraham, Lincoln, and Ellen; and look east and see the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Lastly, if you get the chance, viewing the sunrise from the top of the tower is transformative.

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views🙌🏻

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Looking for Canada

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Connecticut: Devil’s Hopyard State Park

It’s a bit frustrating to make list like these because you have to find the coolest areas and campsites that are conveniently located to them. We think everyone should take a trip to see Enders Falls in Granby, but there isn’t any camping in Enders State Forest. So make that a day trip, if you can, and do an over-nighter at Devil’s Hopyard State Park (and not just because the name is fantastic). It is a beautiful state park in a valley, and it features its own great falls as well as interesting rock formations known as Scotland Schist.

So … about that name. There isn’t a single explanation that can be offered up and verified. One of the more popular legends has it that a man named Dibble owned a garden for growing hops in the area and through years of usage, the phrase “Dibble’s Hopyard” became “Devil’s Hopyard.” Alas, exhaustive searches have never yielded a farmer Dibble who owned a hopyard in the area. Another tale centers on the potholes near the falls (some of the finest examples of pothole stone formation in the country.) Early settlers, unsure of the science behind the formation of the holes, attempted to explain them with the supernatural. The devil, they said, passed by the falls and accidentally wet his tail, sending him into a rage. As he bounded away from the water, his hooves left holes in the stones.

There are 21 wooded campsites near a scenic waterfall. Stream fishing is encouraged, but swimming can be quite dangerous, and it is, therefore, prohibited. The sites are available from mid-April through September 30th, and each includes a pedestal cooking grill and picnic table. Outhouses are available onsite, but there are no hookups or showers. Connecticut residents pay $14 a night to camp, while those from out-of-state have to pony up $24.

In East Haddam (where the State Park is located) you find Chapman Falls, a picture-perfect example with a good amount of water cascading down a stepped ledge. This is where you are going to see the famous potholes — caused by rocks being trapped in the flowing water. To get to it, get on the Devil’s Hopyard Orange Trail Loop, a 2.1-mile walk that is good for people of all skill levels, though there are places where the incline challenges the out-of-shape. Be prepared for mixed responses. Fit people will think it was too easy and couch potatoes will sweat their asses off. If you fall in the middle, this is a great hike for you.

You can also follow the Millington Trail and see falls. In both cases, wear good shoes because the trail is usually muddy.

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New York: Hither Hills State Park

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#montauk #beach #sunset

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If you’re an ocean person, you can spend hours sitting in the sand watching the waves rush toward you and recede while your mind travels calmly through a series of thoughts and the sound of the water soothes you. And, there are a lot of ways to get your ocean groove back when you live in New York, a state the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared has 2,625 miles of coastline. We suggest heading to the eastern end of the South Fork of Long Island, near Montauk. Hither Hills State Park is a little busier that we generally like for microadventures, but it is also absolutely beautiful beach with campsites set along the shore. We can’t fight that draw.

This 1,755-acre state park was slated for private development at one point. It almost became a recreational complex with all the stereotypical trappings of the upper crust, including a yacht basin and polo field. But, the Long Island State Park Commission blocked that plan and a portion of the private holdings was sold to New York State, who designated it a park in August of 1924. Take that, rich people.

There is a 190-site campground on the ocean. You may literally be sleeping only a few feet from the lapping waves. Each site has a concrete slab with a picnic table. If you fear rain or oppressive sun, bring a canopy because the sites don’t offer any cover from the weather. You aren’t allowed to have open fires; so if you’re cooking, bring a grill. There are bathhouses with flush toilets and showers, and everything is kept clean. Plus, because it is a popular locale, there are police patrols at night — so you don’t need to worry about your neighbors going out of control and keeping you up. It’s really as accommodating and comfortable as a tent site can get without being full on glamping. Sites are $31 per night and $217 per week.

The ocean is a clear must. Get out there and fish, swim, or splash. Even sitting on the beach for hours will help get you back in touch with your inner adventurer. But, be sure to also make time to explore and hike on the Hither Hills Overlook woodland trail, an eight mile, highly trafficked loop. The difficulty is moderate, but a person who isn’t down to walk that far in the sun may struggle in the summer. The eastern boundary of the park boasts the unique “walking dunes” of Napeague Harbor, and a 2.7-mile trail loops you through them.

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🦀🐚🌻🐠🌞

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Rhode Island: George Washington Management and Camp Area

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Changing of the season

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The 4,000-acre George Washington Management Area is home to multiple state forests, as well as the George Washington Memorial Camping Area. So, if you’re really into woodland camping, this spot is going to do the most for you. Among the management area is George Washington Memorial State Forest, founded in 1932 as Rhode Island’s first state forest. Adventuring in the area allows you to hike among old growth and watch sunsets over the lake. There isn’t a waterfall or cave or arch or some specific natural wonder to draw you to the area. Instead, you get a classic experience in a really beautiful part of the state.

The campground is generally dope, but try to get into sites A1-A7. These sites are secluded 12’x12’ platforms along Angell Loop — a 1.5-mile trail that meanders over small hills and winds along the gorgeous southern shore of Bowdish Reservoir. These sites are hike in/hike out ones, so be prepared, but you only have to walk .6 miles to get to them. If you aren’t down with having to haul your stuff to camp, there are 38 other spaces to choose from. In the past, there were only pit toilets and outhouses; there were no showers. Now, there is a new bathhouse with showers and flush toilets. And, water is delivered via shared spigots throughout the campsite. Campsites are $14 a night or $98 for a week.

A forest comes with an extensive habitat and you have access to fox, coyote, raccoon, snowshoe hare, cottontail rabbits, white-tailed deer, and grey squirrel within the Management Area. If you’re interested in bird watching, the Pulaski Marsh attracts a ton of waterfowl, including black duck, wood duck, and mallards. Then, there are the gamebirds: wild turkey, ruffled grouse, and woodcock. And the general forest cover makes a hospitable environment for warblers, thrushes, owls and hawks. On a hike through the area, you can see a lot of wildlife, so bring your phone or a camera to document it. A good trail to follow is the North South and Center Trail to Bowdish Reservoir. It’s an 8.6-mile loop that takes you past the lake. The trail often intersects with gravel roads, so bring good shoes and keep your pack light.

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New Jersey: High Point State Park

Three guesses why this is the name of the park. If one of your answers was that the park sits on the top of the state’s tallest mountain, you are correct. At 1,803 feet above sea level, the view is a spectacular panorama of lush valleys, verdant farmland, rich forest, and rolling hills in three states. Donated by Colonel Anthony R. and Susie Dryden Kuser, the land for High Point State Park became a dedicated park in 1923. The park was actually designed by the Olmstead Brothers of Boston, who were the sons of prominent landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead, the designer behind Central Park. Their prowess shows in the present park, which includes a monument to honor all war veterans. Completed in 1930, the 220-foot structure allows observers to access the best view in the state.

One of the cool things about overnighting here is that the campground isn’t smushed up against the day trippers. Instead of placing it next to the contact station by Lake Marcia (where people swim and hang out), it’s farther north. There are 50 tent sites (no trailers) along Sawmill Lake and they each have a picnic table and fire ring. Campers are walking distance to flush toilets. The spaces are good sized and provide enough of a buffer between guests that you may see your neighbors, but they won’t be close enough to force conversation. Residents pay $20 for the night and out-of-staters pony up $25.

High Point State Park has over 50 miles of trails, so you have options year-round. Some are multi-use, which means you can opt to use them for mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, dogsledding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing. You can stick to a short jaunt on a .5-mile trail or go full out for 18.

We think the Monument Trail Loop is a can’t miss. It’s a moderately difficult 3.5-mile loop that takes about two to three hours. This is a great way to access the monument and the views. It gets a fair amount of traffic, so you likely won’t be cruising this alone, unless you hit it in the winter and brave the snow (which is so fun!). Also, fun is the White Cedar Swamp Trail– a 2.6 mile trail that gets you close to wildlife.

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#hike#highpoint#statepark#snow#freezing!

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Delaware: Cape Henlopen State Park

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Has geocaching been around long enough to circle back to being cool again, or are we total dorks for getting excited about hunting down trinkets left by strangers? If that’s the case, then this microadventure is going to roll a little dorky; though, we will go to our graves insisting it is dope AF. Delaware has a geocaching trail that is made up of 69 nice geocache locations. If you get the code words from at least 24 of them, the state awards you with a commemorative coin emblazoned with a sky-blue map of the state, and if this trip marks your first cache, you could find yourself down the road planning microadventures just to nab more codes. Get started on your journey at Cape Henlopen State Park, which has a cache or two as well as a glorious designated swimming beach. It’s a bit crowded on the beach when the weather is good, but there is so much more to do in the park that you will soon find a little tranquility to call your own.

The campgrounds have been recently renovated, and there are 50s of them with 100 amp electric hookups, new fire rings, water, showers, flush toilets, a camp store, laundry facilities, dump stations, and overflow parking. There is also a nature center, a store, a bait and tackle shop, and food concessions. You will not want for anything. We recommend the walk-in tent sites because they afford more privacy. During the renovation, they added more sites and this cut the space down — so privacy is at a premium. Rates are dependent on the season and whether you are staying on the weekend or during the week.

Cape Henlopen State Park has many, many trails. Hiking is allowed on all of them, but some also do double duty by accommodating horseback riders or mountain bikers. If you just aren’t up to a strenuous trek, we love the Seaside Nature trail, a 0.6-mile walk along flat, sandy surfaces. You get to see some coastal pine forest, as well as peep the Delaware Bay, the fishing pier, Inner Breakwater, and the Henlopen Lighthouse (you knew there would be at least one lighthouse in this list). The park also runs a bike rental program, so consider snapping one up and hitting the Bike Loop Trail, a three-mile paved trail that circles around a lot of the major locations in the park — like the Nature Center, the kayak rental, and the observation tower.

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only place I never get tired of

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Maryland: Assateague Island National Seashore

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Wild Horses. No, we’re not talking the Rolling Stones song, the cover by the Sundays, or the scene with Mark Wahlberg groping Reese Witherspoon in Fear. We are referencing the very literal wild horses that roam Assateague Island National Seashore — the site of your Maryland microadventure. Located on Assateague Island (a barrier island bordered on the west by Sinepuxent Bay and on the east by the Atlantic), the seashore is part of Maryland’s only oceanfront state park, and it offers visitors activities like swimming, sunbathing, fishing, surfing, and feral horse watching. If you aren’t excited by one of these (horses!), we are prepared to register our concern.

It took a while for the state park to be established, as state planners suggested it in both 1940 and 1952 without action being taken. It wasn’t put into motion until 1956, when Ocean Beach, Incorporated donated 540 acres from North Ocean Beach to the state. The national seashore was created in 1965. Before that, the island was slated to become a private resort community — but a nor’easter swooped down and destroyed what few buildings had been erected and ripped the roads asunder. The island simply wasn’t sufficiently stable to serve as a foundation for a resort. It’s perfect for camping and feral horses, though.

The state park maintains 148 campsites for people using tents and for those with RVs. Campers get to choose between an oceanside parcel or a bayside one. If you go for the ocean, you have the advantage of being right on the beach. But, on the bayside, you have great views of the marshes where the horses feed, and that can make for some great pictures and memories. The facilities include drinking water, cold showers, and chemical toilets. You also get a picnic table and a fire ring at your site. Campers pay $30 a night to reserve a site. It’s a pretty basic, no-frills arrangement.

Sure, you can hike here. There are three rather short trails (none of them are over a mile). There is a dunes trail over the sand, a forest trail shaded by woodlands, and a marsh trail on an elevated boardwalk. But, we want to indulge our inner seven-year-old girl and focus on horsies. The Chincoteague ponies are, according to legend, the descendants of animals that survived a shipwreck off the coast. But, it’s more likely that they date back to settlers opting to keep the horses on an island rather than build paddocks and pay fence taxes. And, because the horses live on saltmarsh grasses, they have developed round little bellies and short stature; many are under 4’8”.

Be warned, these suckers will kick and bite because they are wild, so this is all about being among them and observing. No feeding or petting allowed.

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Snow Digger

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Dear summer, I miss you :(

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Pennsylvania: Ohiopyle State Park

A lot of campgrounds across the country now feature waterslide parks, which we think is kinda cool (waterslides can never be fully bereft of cool) but not what you need to be doing to get back to nature. A microadventure with natural waterslides is perfect because it gives you the all of rush associated with sliding along rushing water on your ass and keeps you connected to the wilderness. Ohiopyle State Park, located on the southern end of Laurel Ridge is 20,500-acres of wild beauty centered on the rushing waters of the Youghiogheny River Gorge, home to some of the best whitewater boating in the east and to two pretty wicked natural waterslides. As the park is open year-round, you also have the option to do some cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and sledding when the weather isn’t right for sliding.

Shortly after European colonists hit this part of the nation, Native American tribes from across the east coast were either exterminated or fled to escape such a fate. Many of them ended up in the Ohiopyle area during the 18th century. In fact, the name “Ohiopyle” comes from a Lenape phrase meaning “it turns very white,” a reference not to the shift in the area’s population but to the froth of local waterfalls. The region went through periods of use by farmers, trappers, hunters, and lumberjacks before the railroads also made it a destination of choice for tourists. When the automobile became popular, all of the resort buildings in the area were demolished, and the forest reclaimed the land before being purchased by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and sold to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to become the first and largest park acquired under the Project 70 Land Acquisition and Borrowing Act in 1964. The public was permitted entrance in 1965, and the park was dedicated in 1971.

For this outing, you’ll be staying at the KentuckCampground — which has 200 campsites, 27 of which are walk-ins. We love them because they generally afford more privacy, but lugging your stuff can be a pain, so go with the type of site that feels best to you. All of the sites include a fire ring, picnic table, and parking space. There is access to flush toilets, showers with hot water, sanitary dumping stations, and some electric hookups. This is bear country, so you’ll need to keep your food in your car for safety.

If you’re all about paddling, the Youghiogheny River is going to get you hyped — it’s the busiest section of whitewater east of the Mississippi for a reason. If you are down with a kayak, closed-top canoe, or rubber raft, you can even run the falls once a year. It’s transcendent. But, for simple microadventuring, the waterslides may be all the river action that you need. Slip into the cool, clear water of the Meadow Run Natural Waterslide and get in touch with your inner child. The long, fast chute sends you twisting and dropping through sheets of bedrock while whitewater sprays mark your trail. You land comfortably in a shallow pool and will want to race right back to the top and start again.

New Hampshire: Umbagog Lake State Park

Umbagog Lake State Park is one of the best kayaking venues in this entire region. The lake, which is also part of the Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge, is 7,850 acres, making it the largest lake on the border of New Hampshire and Maine. It’s also infinitely beautiful, providing visitors with all the wilderness and solitude they can handle without veering into a Friday the 13th kind of scenario. The area is logistically a bit of a pain to access, so it’s generally quiet and peaceful. And, it’s one of the more recently acquired parks in the system. The Division only started managing it in 1998 — which means it doesn’t have the notoriety that parks dating back to the 1930s have.

The park’s campground has 27 sites with electrical and water hookups and 35 remote sites, which are so cool. You can literally claim a lone site on a mini-island all to yourself. Don’t worry about not having the necessary boat, kayak, or canoe to make it out to your camp; these are all available for rental. Each of the remote sites has a pit toilet, fire pit, and picnic table. There isn’t any water, but you can fill up at the main campground and haul it out to the island with the rest of your gear. You have to purchase all of your firewood at the camp store to limit danger to the trees in the area. There aren’t any trash cans, so be prepared to haul out as well as haul in.

Insider’s tip: We think campsites 14, 28, 29, and 32 are the real jewels. Reserve them if you can.

Umbagog Lake State Park is all about the lake (shocking!). This is a great place to swim, paddle, and fish. But, there are also a lot of interesting areas to gawk at and explore. In Tyler Cove, there is a pebble beach, and if you follow a small trail for 0.2-miles, you come to a natural spring. A little more adventure in the area will lead you to the remains of an abandoned golf course that dates back decades. And, Harper’s Meadow, designated a Floating Island National Natural Landmark is a floating bog that is home to many different species of wild beasties.

Check out eagles, osprey, and loons. There is waterfowl aplenty, but there is also moose. Moose!

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"What stays at Umbagog, stays at Umbagog." ……….…………………………………………. down near the waters edge we all perched atop mossy boulders, pink-blue light threatening to throw off what little beer-induced balance we had left whilst it slipped below the horizon. standing on damp rocks is hard when you're balancing a bottle of wild turkey in one hand and a sam adams in the other. right about now the moon began its slow descent behind the silhouetted backdrop of the white mountains, glowing an eery orange against the pitch black sky. "there it goes!" we all hollered in unison, laughing at the redundancy of our exclamations. now half-hidden behind the line of trees across the lake, its crescent shape painting a thin shadow across the ripples on the water. smoke surrounded all of us, pot, tobacco, fog rolling in, it was all the same; we breathed deeply and reveled in the way the air hung on our skin and in our lungs, light as the moon being pulled so easily out of sight to make room for the stars. "hand me that blunt" i heard from behind me, blindly throwing my arm back so i wouldn't miss a moment of the last seconds of the moon, fighting to stay above the horizon, glowing just the slightest bit brighter than it had thus far. smoke mingled in my nose again as i heard "What stays at Umbagog, stays at Umbagog." We giggled, and giggled, and giggled some more. one of us finally managed to ask "Dunkin did you mean..?" "Of course i did, what stays at Umbagog, stays at Umbagog" and with a few solemn nods of acceptance, we turned our gazes to the sky, watching silently as the milky way danced and shimmered above us in a light show all our own.

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