The Land for Maine’s Future (LMF) program has helped to conserve three recreational gems in the Rangeley Lakes region. An LMF grant enabled Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust to purchase Bald Mountain from International Paper. The Trust subsequently transferred this 1,873-acre tract to the Bureau of Parks and Lands for management as the Bald Mountain Public Reserve. A one-mile trail leads to the summit, which offers expansive views out over Rangeley, Cupsuptic, and Mooselookmeguntic lakes.
A second LMF grant secured a vital link that runs between two of those lakes: the Rangeley River. Maine’s shortest river, the Rangeley, is significant by many other measures. Its abundant fish populations and scenic attributes have made this setting a popular one as long as humans have lived in the area. Paleoindian artifacts found in the vicinity indicate extensive occupation beginning at least 11,000 years ago. The river’s legendary smelt runs once drew people from across Maine and anglers still come in search of land-locked salmon and brook trout. An easement on 150 acres will keep undeveloped 80 percent of the land on both sides of the Rangeley River, while guaranteeing public access. A popular snowmobile trail (enjoyed by cross-country skiers and summertime hikers) crosses the property, linking to a network of trails on more than 30,000 acres of nearby conservation lands.
On the far side of the Rangeley Lakes, the Rapid River flows from Lower Richardson Lake to Lake Umbagog — dropping through six miles of mountainous terrain to provide a spectacular 3.5-mile section of Class III-V whitewater rapids. In addition to luring canoeists and kayakers, the Rapid River draws anglers in search of brook trout and landlocked salmon. An LMF grant allowed the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to purchase an easement that protects all of the frontage on these rapids, conserving 446 acres of white pine, balsam fir, northern white cedar, and red spruce.
Western Mountains – Oxford, Franklin, Somerset
Directions from nearest town
DeLorme Maine Atlas and Gazetteer Map 28, E-3. To Bald Mountain: in Oquossuc, follow Route 4 west to Haines Landing, turning left on Bald Mountain Road. The trailhead is on the left in 1 mile. Boat access to the Rangeley River is off Route 4, just west of the intersection with Route 16. Boat access to the Rapid River is via the boat launch at South Arm on Lower Richardson Lake.