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Backpacker Magazine – May 2013

First Night Out: Fauna

Three trails teeming with wildlife

by: Sarah L. Stewart and Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan

Black Tailed Deer on the Olympic Coast (Tom & Pat Leeson)
Black Tailed Deer on the Olympic Coast (Tom & Pat Leeson)

Nahmakanta Public Lands, ME
Debsconeag Backcountry Trail

Only a few thousand visitors trek into this roadless section of the Maine woods each year, but those who do find glassy ponds laden with trout, unmarred mountain vistas, and—if they’re even a little bit lucky—some of the state’s antlered icons. Dozens of ponds, lakes, and bogs litter the landscape, providing prime habitat for moose, which outnumber deer here. This easy, 7-mile loop traces the eastern half of a figure-eight to a trifecta of moose hangouts: Beaver-dammed Stink Pond (near mile 2), tiny Seventh Debsconeag Pond (mile 4), and larger Sixth Debsconeag Pond (mile 5). The mixed hardwood-conifer forest opens up beyond Stink Pond for views across the rolling tablelands to 2,905-foot Jo-Mary Mountain. Pitch your tent on a ledge bordering Sixth Pond for your best moose-spotting odds at dawn and dusk; watch and listen for loons here, too. Late summer brings ripe blueberries to the rocky section leading up to Seventh Pond.

Go August to October for fewer bugs and fall colors (foliage peaks in early October) Get there From Greenville, take Lily Bay Rd. north to Kokadjo Trading Post. When the pavement ends, bear left at the fork and zero your odometer; follow signs for Nahmakanta Lake Camps and Debsconeag Lakes. Turn right at 1.8 miles. Turn left at miles 6.6, 14, and 18.4. Turn right at 19.3; park at 24.3 miles. Permit None required Map Trails Illustrated Baxter State Park/Mount Katahdin ($12, Contact

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