BikeMaine 2014 began in Westbrook, a city sitting in the heart of Southern Maine, long known as the gateway leading from Portland’s Casco Bay area to the Lakes Region of Western Maine.
Named after Colonel Thomas Westbrook who came to Maine in 1727, the City of Westbrook honors its founder on its official seal, which depicts a ship representing Colonel Westbrook’s journey from New Hampshire to Maine. A historically rich settlement, Westbrook became a town in 1814 and a city in 1891.
The Presumpscot River runs through the center of the city and features two prominent falls, Saccarappa and Congin. Beginning in 1739, the river was populated by saw & gristmills, cotton textile mills and paper mills, utilizing the falls as a great source of power for their operations. No longer used as power sources, the river is now being re-purposed through development of kayaking and paddleboard programs at Riverbank Park. The edges of the river boast a River Walk linking ball fields and public parks between each of the grand falls. This stretch of river offers bird watching and calm stretches of urban serenity. Westbrook is part of the Sebago to the Sea Trail and Portland Trails and is proud to have their River Walk featured by those organizations.
The residents of Westbrook are proud of their heritage and welcome all visitors with open arms, hoping visitors will enjoy the small town community spirit. BikeMaine will be welcomed in especially grand style when Westbrook greets us with, and invites us to join in on, an old-fashioned, crowd pleasing parade down Main Street.
- 18 mile loop – Click to view online
- 32 mile loop – Click to view online
- 50 mile loop – Click to view online
Websites of Interest
Lodging in and close to Westbrook:
- The Elms Bed & Breakfast – 207-854-4060. 102 Cumberland Street, Westbrook. Located directly on Presumpscot River, Very limited space. Call immediately to check availability.
- Super 8 Motel – 207-854-1881. 208 Larrabee Road, Exit 48 off I-95, Westbrook
- Howard Johnson Plaza – 207-774-5861. 155 Riverside Street, Exit 48 off I-95, Portland
- Fireside Inn & Suites – 207-774-5601. 81 Riverside Street, Exit 48 off I-95, Portland
- More hotels in the area near the Maine Mall (lots of stores and restaurants)
Day 1 Route Description
Westbrook to Norway – “Cycling Sebago Lake’s Watershed”
The route starts on the Presumpscot River, the route heads out of Westbrook in grand fashion and eventually onto the Mountain Division Trail. After leaving the trail, the route heads north, tracing the western and northern shore of the state’s second largest lake, Sebago. The rolling terrain makes for some inspiring cycling. After crossing over the Cumberland and Oxford Canal, the route hugs the shore of Pleasant Lake with occasional views of the White Mountains to the west. Gaining elevation as the route heads towards Otisfield, the reward is a wonderful descent to the shore of Pennesseewassee Lake on into Norway.
Nestled in the picturesque foothills of Western Maine, the town of Norway is emerging as a vital cultural, commercial and recreational center. Its bustling Main Street is characterized by unique, locally owned shops, restaurants, and other businesses and organizations housed in architecturally significant buildings from the early 1900s. On the outskirts of town, the natural beauty of Lake Pennesseewassee, Ordway Grove, Witt Swamp, Alan Day Community Garden, and the Roberts Farm Preserve serves both residents and visitors. This scenic village of about 5,000 residents was designated a “Main Street Maine” community in 2002 in honor of its character and historic assets, and the potential to build a thriving downtown upon these virtues.
The village has been a hub for the area for centuries, as farmers came to trade their goods on Main Street and supply a local cannery. Laborers came to work in the dozen or more factories, including a shoe shop, a tannery, a box factory and several wood turning mills, the last of which only recently closed its doors. Known for much of the early 20th century as the “Snowshoe Capital of the World,” Norway was put on the map when snowshoes made by local hero Mellie Dunham made their way to the North Pole with the Peary expedition of 1909. The snowshoe industry thrived here during WWII due to government contracts. Dunham went on to become one of the country’s foremost fiddlers and his legacy is celebrated to this day.
The historic architecture that now defines Norway is a testament to the Great Fire of 1894. After most of the town burned, it was quickly reconstructed in the latest brick and wood styles of the day. According to the Maine Historic Preservation Commission, Norway’s buildings include some of the best examples of period architecture to be found in Maine, resulting in its designation as an official state Historic District.
Interesting Fact about Norway: The “Main Street Maine” designation was granted to Norway in 2002 by the highly successful Maine Downtown Center program begun by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The goal of the program is to revive America’s Main Streets by encouraging the preservation of historic buildings, developing community organization and staging events. Norway is one of Maine’s 29 Main Street Communities and one of the greatest Main Street “re-birth” stories in the state. BikeMaine will visit three Main Street communities this year: Norway, Gardiner and Bath. See http://www.mdf.org/mdc_overview.php for more information about the Maine Downtown Center.
- 15 mile loop – Click to view online
- 19 mile loop – Click to view online
- 54 mile loop – Click to view online
Websites of Interest
Lodging in and close to Norway:
Day 2 Route Description
Norway to Winthrop Center – “Over the Rivers and Through the Woods”
The section of the route heads almost directly east from Norway, with the majority of the day’s climbing occurring in the first ten miles. The highlight of the section comes early as the route visits the historic village of Paris Hill, a true gem of a time gone by. Then a climb up and over Hedgehog Hill followed by a rewarding descent into Buckfield. The route levels off and meanders along the Nezinscott River through picturesque towns, including Turner. Crossing the pastoral Androscoggin River between Howes Corner and North Leeds, then head south to Leeds with several scenic vistas along the way. Head southeast to Monmouth, the home of the delightful Cumston Hall. The route rounds Annabessacook Lake and, after crossing Narrows Pond, tackle one last uphill climb to the YMCA Camp of Maine on Cobbosseecontee Lake.
Winthrop – YMCA Camp of Maine
Maine boasts over 200 plus summer sleep-away camps, and many have discovered the beauty of our state while attending camp as a child. BikeMaine is thrilled that, for the second year, a classic Maine camp will host our ride, offering all riders the chance to relive those fond memories of childhood: camp craft, camp ritual and camp song – maybe even including gimp and bug juice!
Founded in 1915, the YMCA Camp of Maine has been dedicated to fulfilling the principles symbolized by the YMCA Triangle: the development of Mind, Body, and Spirit. The camp is located on the north side of Cobbosseecontee Lake in Winthrop, and consists of over 160 acres and three islands, one of which is 14 acres in size.
The keystone to all activities is the historic, spacious dining hall, complete with a double-sided stone fireplace, gleaming wood floors, soaring wooden beams, all watched over by a massive moose head mounted above the hearth. The YMCA Camp of Maine has all the essential elements of an overnight summer camp: bunkhouses, a performance auditorium, an arts & crafts cabin, a swimming and boating waterfront, and sloping lawns dotted with massive white pines leading to the shore of Cobbosseecontee Lake.
The camp serves children ages 8-15, housing 110 girls and 110 boys per session. Children can select from more than 50 different programs, including classics such as Archery, Talent and Skit nights, Nature Study and swim lessons. Summer campers hail from Maine, most of the other fifty states and from around the world.
For more information check out the web site at www.maineycamp.org
Interesting fact about Maine Summer Camps: The idyllic life found in Maine summer camps is often portrayed as part of the storyline in movies. Two famous examples are the twin versions of the movie about twins, Parent Trap, starring Hayley Mills in 1961 and Lindsay Lohan in 1998. The 1961 version featured “Camp Inch”, and the later film version depicted Maine’s “Camp Walden”, although the camp scenes for both movies were, unfortunately, shot in California.
Websites of Interest
Lodging in and close to Winthrop:
Day 3 Route Description
Winthrop Center to Gardiner – “Cycling Maine’s “Golden Pond”
This route heads north from Winthrop Center along Maranacook Lake passing traditional camps along the way before riding through rural Readfield on quiet country roads. Travel through the famous Belgrade Lakes region (the inspiration for “On Golden Pond”) and around Messalonskee Lake into Oakland. Travel due east until reaching the River Road and then travel downriver into Maine’s capital city, Augusta, where the route picks up the Kennebec River Rail Trail. The trail will provide a gentle way to end this section. Pass through quaint Hallowell before bringing ending up at Gardiner’s Waterfront Park.
The City of Gardiner’s identity has always been influenced by its relationship to the Kennebec River. Gardiner is the last deepwater harbor on the tidal river, where recreational opportunities abound, compliments of a beautifully re-made Waterfront Park, where Bike Maine will set camp. Just a stone’s throw from the waterfront, the incredibly intact mid 19th century buildings surrounding and lining Water Street hint of bygone times. Lumber mills, shoe factories, and ice harvesting have given way to an emerging economy based on arts and culture, commerce, and the quality of life available in this picturesque New England Village.
From the Bandstand on the Common to the Library dating to 1881, visiting Gardiner is like taking a step back in time. Pulitzer Prize winning poet Edwin Arlington Robinson and author Laura E. Richards both hail from Gardiner. Their works, created in Gardiner’s golden age of industry, reflect the mill town’s grace, grit and character. Spending the night at the Gardiner Waterfront Park, BikeMaine participants may be greeted in the morning by bald eagles soaring over the river, or the prehistoric Atlantic Sturgeon, sometimes more than thirteen feet in length, leaping fully out of the water before splashing down.
Interesting fact about Gardiner: Around the year 2000, Amy, a Gardiner mother of two, started the now famous Wicked Whoopie Pie Company. Begun in her kitchen, the company quickly outgrew its home-based setting and now WWP boasts two large bakeshops and bakes over 20 different varieties of Whoopie Pies, shipped worldwide. The company has won numerous awards and was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show.
- 17 mile loop – Click to view online
- 25 mile loop – Click to view online
- 50 mile loop – Click to view online
Websites of Interest
Lodging in and close to Gardiner:
Day 4 Route Description
Gardiner to Boothbay Harbor – “Downriver to the Sea”
The ride begins by crossing the Kennebec River to Randolph, before turning south to Pittston and then Dresden Mills. Head northeast up and over Blinn Hill to East Pittston and North Whitefield. Turning south onto Townhouse Road and stop for a snack at the Sheepscot General Store. You’ll cycle through rich farmland until reaching the beautiful West Branch of the Sheepscot River. Follow the west bank of the meandering Sheepscot, crossing to the east side of the river in Lincoln County’s historic Head Tide Village. This is quintessential Maine. At the southern tip of Damariscotta Lake, the route travels through Damariscotta Mills, home of the state’s oldest and most productive alewife fishery and where the Damariscotta River turns salty. Tracing the Damariscotta River down to Newcastle. Keep the river to the east as you travel down the Boothbay Peninsula to the lovely village of Boothbay Harbor, the heart of mid-coast Maine.
For over a century the Boothbay Harbor region has been a favorite destination of travelers longing to relax and enjoy the “rock bound coast of Maine” from land and sea. With its “snug as a booth” harbor, long peninsula, and numerous islands, the region is renowned for its natural beauty and boating pleasures. Historically an active harbor, by 1881 it contained a fishery and fish oil company, an ice company, two marine railways, a fertilizer manufacturer, and a factory for canning lobsters. In the mid 1800’s Boothbay harbor was well known as the place for sloops to retreat in bad weather, holding at a time between 400 and 500 vessels seeking shelter! Today, still a bustling place, Boothbay Harbor retains all the charm and rich heritage of a maritime New England village – white clapboard homes, numerous specialty shops, galleries, boat yards and marinas dot the Harbor’s rocky shoreline.
Boothbay Harbor boasts the largest fleet of excursion boats on the coast for viewing lighthouses, seals, islands, whales, puffins, and the spectacular foliage in fall. This harbor has over 25 excursion boat trips daily during the boating season to near-by islands, along the shoreline, and in quiet river waters. Deep-sea fishing cruises for cod, mackerel, tuna, haddock, and striped bass leave daily for full and half-day trips. Boothbay Harbor’s fine marinas and fishing facilities are well known to yachtsmen cruising the Maine coast. Seafood is the dining specialty – clams, scallops, shrimp and the king of them all LOBSTER.
Some other activities to keep you busy during your visit to Boothbay Harbor, include: Explore the region’s countless coves and inlets while experiencing some of the best sea kayaking available anywhere. See the handiwork of local boat yards, which continue the tradition in state-of-the art materials, keeping alive the heritage of world class boat builders. On land, explore some of more than a dozen nature trails, many of them offering spectacular ocean views. Stroll flower-lined streets and visit the boutiques, antique shops, and art galleries along the way, then catch a play or concert at the Historic Opera House. Visit the Historical Society in Boothbay Harbor and the Museum in Southport to learn about ice cutting and shipbuilding in days gone by go by or check out the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, one of the top ten public gardens in the nation. Check out the website here.
- 14 mile loop – Click to view online
- 24 mile loop – Click to view online
- 50 mile loop – Click to view online
Websites of Interest
Lodging in and close to Boothbay Harbor:
Day 6 Route Description
Boothbay Harbor to Bath – “Bridging the Estuaries”
This section starts with a loop around many of the bays surrounding the west side of the Boothbay Peninsula and leading upstream along the Back and Cross Rivers. Although you must ride a few miles on busy Route 27, you’ll soon be back on quiet roads with stunning views of the Sheepscot River, none lovelier than those seen from Fort Edgecomb. Retracing the route around The Eddy; make a short jog south on Route 27, then head north on country roads to Sheepscot. Head west through rural Lincoln County until coming to the east side of the Kennebec River across from Richmond. Follow the river south, and continuing on to Bath with great views of the river and Merrymeeting Bay along the way.
Big enough to be a commercial and cultural hub and compact enough to be intimate and walkable, Bath is vibrant, friendly, and a Maine visitor’s paradise. Long known as the “City of Ships”, Bath’s shipbuilding history can be seen in everything from its historic waterfront downtown, where wharves once lined the Kennebec River, to Bath’s Maine Maritime Museum celebrating the era of the tall ships on the grounds of the historic Percy and Small Shipyard. The looming cranes of the Bath Iron Works, where naval destroyers are still built today, punctuate the Bath skyline.
Incorporated in 1847, the city is nestled along the west side of a navigable, straight, 5-mile stretch of the Kennebec River, a site that has proven to be ideal for shipbuilding for more than 200 years. At the height of US commercial shipbuilding, more ships were built in Maine than in any other state and more of those ships were built in Bath than anywhere in Maine. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Port of Bath sent ships around the world and was an entry point for national and international commerce.
Bath is still an economic hub, with a dynamic working waterfront and busy retail center. Downtown Bath, the heart of the City of Ships, encompasses less than one-half square mile of the City’s total area of more than 9 square miles, but packed into this small area is a wealth of historic architecture, shops, boutiques, galleries, parks, pubs and restaurants, perfect for an afternoon of browsing. Restaurants offer plenty of seafood options in locations that vary from waterfront decks to cool wine cellars. Foodies will delight in the local produce at the Bath Farmers’ Market in Waterfront Park on Saturday morning.
Browse the historic markers at Waterfront Park, or take a self-guided architectural walking tour along north Wasthington Street , and you will quickly see why Bath was named a National Trust “Distinctive Destination”. From historic ship captains’ homes to some of the best examples of Georgian and Italianate structures in New England, Bath is a treasure trove of interesting buildings.
- 16 mile loop – Click to view online
- 26 mile loop – Click to view online
- 48 mile loop – Click to view online
Interesting things to do during your stay in Bath:
- Visit the world-famous Maine Maritime Museum to see a full-scale sculpture of the 6-masted Bath-built schooner Wyoming… the largest wooden commercial sailing vessel ever built.
- See the a replica of Maine’s First Ship, the “Virginia”, currently under construction at downtown’s Freight Shed on the waterfront.
- Downtown Bath Hampton Inn – 140 Commercial Street
- Benjamin F. Packard House Bed and Breakfast – 45 Pearl St., Bath – 207-443-6004. Historic shipbuilder’s home, relax and be pampered. A/C, private baths.
- Galen C. Moses House B&B – 1009 Washington Street, Bath – 207-442-8771. 1874 Victorian mansion, AAA, full breakfast, A/C, private baths
- Inn at Bath – 969 Washington Street, Bath – 207-443-4294. Comfortably elegant historic home, private baths, A/C.
- Kennebec Inn – 696 High Street, Bath – 207-443-5324. Built in 1851, this Italianate provides all amenities of a modern luxury hotel and for this visit, they will also provide access to the pool to sooth your muscles, secure bicycle storage, access to the Innkeeper’s tools for bike repair if needed, as well as a high protein/high carb breakfast to help you along the ride.
- Pryor House B&B – 360 Front Street, Bath – 207-443-1146. Intown 1820s Federal, quiet, along the Kennebec River A/C. WiFi
For an expanded list of area lodging options, please visit this website.
Day 7 Route Description
Bath to Wesbtrook – “Bays, Beans, and Goodbyes”
Riding puts you on the Androscoggin Bike Path from Bath to Brunswick, where once again you will be following the Androscoggin River. You will ride through downtown Brunswick, past Bowdoin College, and then back onto quiet roads through lovely Pennellville to Maquoit Bay. Ride into Freeport, home of our founding sponsor L.L.Bean. Skirting downtown Freeport, instead passing through Porter’s Landing and South Freeport before turning inland to Yarmouth and Falmouth, and to the top of Blackstrap Road. From here it’s a steady descent to the Presumpscot River and the finish in Westbrook.