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Maine State Parks System Preserves Its Wild, Untamed Spirit

Somewhere near the end of the last ice age, some 12,000 years ago, glaciers receded, and inhabitable land began opening up in North America. Creeping southward with the rising temperatures, some of the oldest aboriginal societies began forming in one of the most faraway corners of what is now known as the United States of America.

Later, these Tribes of Algoquinian-speaking peoples would be dubbed “Native Americans” and are now known as the “Wabanaki Confederacy,” inhabiting what is now the great state of Maine.

It remains as wild and untamed in some areas as it was all those thousands of years ago. Its beauty lies in its deep, lush forests of towering pines, jagged, razor-like shorelines, and undulating, seemingly endless mountain ranges.

The arrival of European settlers started with the French colony on Saint Croix Island in 1604. As the decades marched on throughout the rest of a young America, the state whose motto would become “I lead” did just that, charting its singular, some would say idiosyncratic, path into the future.

To this day, Maine continues to be an outlier in the 21st-century U.S. Thousands of square miles of wilderness remain unspoiled, and its pockets of modernity, like Portland and Augusta, are known for their quirkiness and left-of-center societal climate. 

With a history as ancient and a lineage as deep as this, it’s no surprise that the 23rd state in the union has quite a story to tell, and many of those stories are written on the pages of its impressive State Parks system.

Below are some can’t-miss destinations when visiting the Pine Tree State:

Fort Point State Park: When thinking of Maine, some may picture those rolling mountains and mysterious forests, while others may envision a tableau quite similar to this park. Fort Point has all the coastal features: pristine beaches, craggy shorelines, and a picturesque New England lighthouse. One of the most popular spots in southern Maine, this site has piers for fishing, picnic tables for family meals, and the remains of Fort Pownall for the history buffs who visit this destination.

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Richardson Public Land: For those adventurers with a slightly wilder streak, this park has all the untamed wilderness one can handle. Located in western Maine in the Rangeley Lakes Region, Richardson Public Land spans more than 22,000 acres of pristine backcountry with lakes, rivers, forests, and mountains abounding within its borders. A favorite attraction for hikers and campers who enjoy the more remote outposts, this spot is also a path for canoers on the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail that winds through New York, Vermont, Quebec, and New Hampshire. There is very little that this location doesn’t offer. For the wild at heart, it’s a singular gem of the State Parks system. 

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Roque Bluffs State Park: Wildlife lovers will want to “flock” to this eastern site! This park has long been a favored destination for birdwatchers in the northeast, and it’s easy to see why. Keen-eyed observers can spot bald eagles, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Redhead and Gadwall ducks, pipers and plovers, and all manner of gulls at Roque Bluffs. Additionally, the miles of coastal shorelines offer stunning views and the opportunity to explore via kayak or canoe. The miles of hiking trails provide a quiet stroll in the rural Maine coastal countryside. There is something for everyone at this park!

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