Each year just before they open, we drive past them. At one, which we pass the most, Moose Point State Park in Searsport, we glance at the gate. Closed. We can tell before we see the gate that lots of people are thinking spring, because their cars are parked alongside the entrance road before the gate opens for the season.
I saw a letter to the editor today, encouraging us all to go up and visit Peaks Kenny State Park a few miles north of Dover Foxcroft. I've never been there, largely because it's pretty far from our home, about 70 miles I believe without measuring the miles in the Gazetteer. That map says we can picnic, camp, and otherwise enjoy the park alongside Sebec Lake, another place we haven't visited.
We have enjoyed Camden Hills State Park, Baxter State Park, Acadia National Park, the Desert of Maine that is not a desert but boasts lots of sand from what once was a farmer's pond, Gulf Hagas, which I don't believe is a state park but just the same has claimed our attention tiptoeing across the West Branch, walking a log across the stream that leads to its trail system, enjoying the views of waterfalls, and the trails themselves.
On our peninsula, we've wandered the paths of Holbrook Island Sanctuary State Park, across the bay from Castine. Also near to home, we've a number of times walked the paths of Lamoine State Park, which also offers a stunning view of Mount Desert Island, only without having to fight the MDI crowds. A bit farther east we have walked the trails of Maine Coastal Islands Wildlife Refuge near Milbridge, have walked the shorter trails of the wildlands area off Pumpkinville Road in Sullivan, and climbed the little but very steep Schoodic Mountain at Donnel Pond. (Not a state park.)
Farther east in Washington County, for some reason we've never been to the trail system on the ocean between Cutler and Lubec, but we have made it to the Reversing Falls State Park, which was basically a viewing area for the reversing falls, and to the tiny Cobscook Bay State Park off Route 1 north of Whiting.
After a couple of tiring days of driving a van providing a tour of the area for writers, I pulled into the parking lot at West Quoddy Head.
"I don't know about you all, but I'm tired of sitting here in the van and I'm going for a walk," I quietly announced.
The passengers also got out and enjoyed some time at Quoddy Head State Park and returned excited about the cliffs they'd views above the ocean. I liked the paths.
In western Maine, we've never visited the tiny Range Pond State Park, but we've been to Sebago Lake State Park and even ridden the river boat there. When we lived in South Paris, we spent much time on the trails of the White Mountain National Forest, but that's not a state park. We spent lots of hours up on Route 26 at the Grafton Notch State Park, visiting its Mother Walker Falls and its Screw Auger Falls, but mostly climbing Table Rock, a steep trail with a scenic view from the rock at its summit, and the Appalachian Trail that winds through that park.
Oh yes, not to forget Reid State Park on its point of land south of Wiscasset and Popham Beach State Park south of Bath. And also, near there, Wolf's Neck Woods State Park south of L.L. Bean....no, I mean Freeport.
We were at Wolf's Neck one evening with an older couple, and the woman had just picked up a stone that had interested her.
"Hey, there," came a voice from the woods above the rocky beach, at which the woman dropped her prize stone.
"The park closes in ten minutes," the voice called down to us.
I don't how much fun the woman had, but I thoroughly enjoyed that visit to a park where we'd been numerous times.
Over in Weld, we've been to Mount Blue State Park numerous times, enjoyed the view from the top of the hill where the park road leads, and even camped there. Mount Blue? Yup, been up that too.
We haven't been to that tiny state park in Aroostook County, which I passed on the way to a conference. But, hey, that's farther north than Baxter State Park, and we've never gotten enough inspiration to go find it.
I think it's been the quiet and beauty of these parks that have attracted us to them over the years. Along with the trails.
The Appalachian Trail, where we've hiked and volunteered over the years? Well, that's actually a national Park, so it doesn't count here, even though I've spent more time on it than at any state park.
But Peaks Kenny State Park? It's still pretty far north from here, but then so is Baxter State Park, where I've climbed Katahdin a half-dozen times.
We've given our canoe and electric motor to my daughter and her husband over in South Paris, so we won't canoe at Peaks Kenny. But the Gazetteer shows picnicking and camping there, which probably will seem attractive after the long drive up to it.
More than gardening and cleaning up the yard in spring, we think of these state parks. Raking and yard cleaning are hard work, while hiking and climbing and picnicking are not.
If you live on the way to Peaks Kenny State Park, keep your eye out for our little Scion. Wave to us as we drive past.
And, if you want, join us at Peaks Kenny State Park.
Of course, by the time we get up there, spring may have begun summer.
Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Milton M. Gross Copyright 2014