Maine’s North Woods
Pearl Ponds Get campground luxury with backcountry solitude.
The first rule of driving the thousands of miles of forest roads that penetrate Maine’s North Woods: Logging trucks get the right of way. The second rule: The hundreds of rarely visited campsites up this way–like the four at Pearl Ponds–make a little truck-dodging worthwhile. Recently opened by the Appalachian Mountain Club, these isolated campsites combine the accoutrements of a campground (picnic tables, fire rings, outhouses) with the charms of the backcountry (access to five lakes and on-site canoes). There’s also an abundance of nearby hiking. Gulf Hagas, a 400-foot-deep gorge filled with gushing waterfalls like Screw Auger Falls, a 25-footer that freefalls into a dark pool, is the main event. See it on the Rim Trail, a nine-mile hike, that begins a short drive or walk from camp. Tack on an additional two miles to visit The Hermitage, a 35-acre stand of old-growth white pine untouched by lumberjacks.
Get there From Millinocket, take ME 11 15 miles south to a right turn into KI-Jo Mary Multi-Use Forest. Follow signs. UTM 19T 0468408E 5040223N Map AMC Katahdin Iron Works Summer Trails and Bike Routes (free, outdoors.org) Permit Required ($10/person/night, plus $10 gate fee) Contactoutdoors.org; (207) 965-8135