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Easy Epics: 17 Drive-up Campsites a Backpacker Will Love

Combine the best of car camping (spacious tents, comfy chairs, frosty margaritas!) and the best of backpacking (deep solitude, outrageous scenery, swimming holes!) with these 17 accessible hideaways.

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)
Contact outdoors.org; (207) 965-8135

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