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Best Outdoor Attractions in Maine | 2013 Editors' Choice Awards

Best Outdoor Attractions in Maine | 2013 Editors’ Choice Awards
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by in May 2013

The Pine Tree State has plenty to offer in the Great Outdoors. Read our picks for the best outdoor attractions in Maine for 2013.

BEST NIGHT PADDLE
Bioluminescent Night Paddle, Castine
Sure, there are daylight tours of East Penobscot Bay, but the rewards for joining “Kayak” Karen Francoeur on a two-hour, fully outfitted night paddle in Castine Harbor include seeing glow-in-the-dark phytoplankton in the water and identifying constellations lighting the sky. Castine Kayak Adventures, 17 Sea St. 207-866-3506; castinekayak.com

BEST MULTIPURPOSE TRAIL
Down East Sunrise Trail, Hancock to Pembroke
Walk, ride (horses or ATVs), or pedal along an 85-mile rail-conversion trail. This crushed-gravel route runs from Washington Junction, east of Ellsworth, to Ayers Junction, near Calais, passing through woods and edging waterways. 207-546-2730; sunrisetrail.org

BEST POCKET GARDEN
Charlotte Rhoades Park & Butterfly Garden, Southwest Harbor
Bring a picnic and enjoy dreamy coastal views while watching butterflies dance amid blooming perennials, annuals, and shrubs at this small seaside garden. A kiosk is stocked with butterfly observation sheets. Best time to visit: during the annual July butterfly release (July 25 this year). 191 Main St. 207-244-9264; rhoadesbutterflygarden.org

BEST PADDLE INTO HISTORY
AMBAJEJUS BOOM HOUSE, Millinocket
Paddle across Ambajejus Lake to the mouth of the West Branch of the Penobscot River to visit the only industrial structure remaining from the great log-drive era. Caretaker and former riverman Chuck Harris has restored this building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and filled it with artifacts. Off Baxter State Park Road. New England Outdoor Center (guided paddle tours): 800-634-7238; neoc.com. Big Moose Inn (pontoon-boat cruises): 207-723-8391; bigmoosecabins.com

BEST DOWN EAST HIKE
CUTLER COAST PUBLIC PRESERVE, Cutler
Keep it short or go the distance on this easy-to-moderate hike through forests and wetlands to the wild and spectacular Bold Coast cliffs. Sightings of whales and porpoises are possible. Options include the relatively easy 2.8-mile out-and-back hike to the coast and 5.5- and 9.2-mile loops. Off Route 191. parksandlands.com

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