Out & About in Vacationland: Part II

Earlier this year Team Tavish wrote about the first Great Maine Outdoor Weekend (GMOW), a new bi-annual event that promotes physical activity and encourages folks to revel in all that’s great about Maine’s natural resources. September 28-30, 2012, marked the second GMOW, and with it, Tavish the Intrepid Pup promised to offer “Part II,” revealing three more stunning destinations in Vacationland. He enjoyed frequenting these places in the 5½ years he lived there, so he’s pretty confident that you and your dog will enjoy them too. So, without further ado…

Dogging the Details

wag-a-meter set at 2

Though in three separate regions of Maine, the excursions described below all rank “2” on the Wag-a-meter as being active, outdoor adventures requiring a little bit of planning. As always, be sure to bring along water for your dog, a snack, and some doggie bags.

 

MAINE LAKES AND MOUNTAINS

44°56′08.58″ N, 70°32′13.24″ W
Rangeley Lakes, Maine

Montage of Rangeley Lakes

Rangeley. The region is virtually synonymous with northern New England, and place names like Mooselookmeguntic and Height of Land simply reinforce its remote and wild allure. It’s the backdrop for Maine’s logging history. The playground for countless generations of sportsmen. The muse of the legendary Carrie Stevens (1882-1970) and her streamer fly. The setting for author Louise Dickinson Rich’s (1903-1991) best sellers, and the thirty-year summer retreat of iconic photographer William Wegman and his famous dogs.

To enter Rangeley is to embrace Maine’s great outdoors. Team Tavish and the Intrepid Pup  have twice stayed at Town & Lake Motel and Cottages; once in late May and again in October. Located on the shore of Rangeley Lake, next to where the sea planes dock, the motel is pet-friendly and a more than adequate home base from which to explore the area. In-room reading is a binder chock full of historical ice out dates, leaving no mistake that this is definitely a place for hard core snowmobilers and ice fishermen.

While Rangeley rightly promotes itself as a four-season wonderland, summer and fall are really the best times for visiting with your dog. Come prepared for great hiking, amazing scenery…and the near certainty of seeing moose.  But be equally prepared for black flies, cool nights, and rapidly changeable weather. Tavish made good use of his Ruffwear™ pack to carry extra food and water for the day. Wearing blaze orange was a must during our autumn hikes as hunting season was in full effect. (Click here to see some of his gear).

The Rangeley Lakes National Scenic Byway is a 35-mile ribbon incorporating sections of Routes 16 and 17. It’s also the access corridor to a number of trail heads of varying lengths and degrees of difficulty.  Tavish-approved highlights include:

  • The short 0.5 mile trail at the 2000-foot Cascade Stream Gorge, with views of 16-foot waterfalls and deep pools.
  • The roadside turnoff at Smalls Falls, with a walkway to see the 54-foot falls.
  • A 1.75 mile trail to the summit of Bald Mountain (2443 feet), with its 30-foot lookout tower.
  • The Appalachian Trail, with a 1.4 mile section to the impressive Piazza Rock.
  • Miles of trails on the 4120-foot Saddleback Mountain. This ski resort permits hikers on base area trails and ski runs during the off season. The chair lifts aren’t operational in the summer, but parts of the main lodge remain open. With wide open spaces, lots of birds to watch, and plenty of evidence of deer and moose, this was probably Tavish’s favorite to explore.

 

GREATER PORTLAND AND CASCO BAY

43°49′14.47″ N, 70°04′54.05″ W
Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, Freeport, Maine

Montage of Wolfe's Neck

Even if you’re otherwise unfamiliar with Maine, you’ve likely heard of Freeport, thanks to it being the venerated home of  outdoor outfitter L.L. Bean. The  flagship store is so touted as a Maine destination that you pretty much have to stop by. While you’re there, sneak a peek at the store’s doors. They’re notable for what’s missing, namely locks.  Since the facility is open 24 hours a day/365 days a year, there’s simply no need for them. That’s what we call a good dose of Yankee practicality. Seriously, check it out…and be sure to snap a photo out front with the 16-foot replica of the hunting boot that launched the company and secured Leon Leonwood Bean’s legacy in the annals of retail history. While your dog can’t accompany you in the store, there’s plenty of dog gear (hunting and otherwise) to be found inside. And you and your dog can always chill in Discovery Park; in the middle of the L.L. Bean retail campus, this compact greenspace doubles as an expo area during Bean’s product demo days and also has a stage on which the company presents its free summer concert series.

But if you can extricate yourself from the constellation of outlet stores downtown, you’ll find that Freeport “beyond the Boot” has a lot to offer in the way of natural splendor. Just a 5-minute drive and you’re quickly away from the 3 million visitors who flock to town each year. Take Bow Street to Flying Point Road, and make Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park your destination.  L.L. Bean’s Paddling Center is just an inlet away from this easily accessible state park.

While you won’t likely get short of breath walking at Wolfe’s Neck, the views will most certainly take your breath away. Within steps of leaving the parking lot picnic area, the Casco Bay Trail slopes gently to where emerald conifer forest meets azure sea and sky. The stolid outcrops that dot the bay are whimsically called the “Calendar Islands,” because surely there are 365…one for every day of the year! The closest is Googins Island, an osprey sanctuary, and every time we’ve visited during the summer we’ve seen nesting osprey. The trail skirts a pebbly coastline before linking up to the Harraseckett and Hemlock Ridge trails to form about a mile-long loop returning you to the parking lot. Do note that there are no receptacles along the trail, so bag any waste for disposal back at the picnic area.

MAINE BEACHES

43°14′42.43″ N,  70°35′31.14″ W
Marginal Way
, Ogunquit, Maine

43°13′24.49″N,  70°41′30.11″W
Mount Agamenticus,York, Maine

Montage of Ogunquit

Not far after crossing Maine’s southernmost border you reach Ogunquit, a town whose apt Chamber-of-Commerce-tagline is “Beautiful Place by the Sea.” Park anywhere you can. Be forewarned that this is a particularly challenging task during the summer months, though a good place to try first is the pay lot just down Shore Road on Cottage Street. If you’re successful in finding a spot in the upper part of town (near the intersection of Route 1 and Shore Road), walk along Shore Road until you come to the Sparhawk Oceanfront Resort; a narrow walkway bordered by tennis courts and lush gardens leads to one of the best coastal trails you’ll ever come across: the Marginal Way.

Dogs are not allowed on the Marginal Way between April 1 and September 30 but are welcome on-leash from October 1 through March 31 (and you can take in the October “HarvestFest” and the December “Christmas by the Sea” activities then, too). The Marginal Way traverses Anchorage by the Sea Resort’s sprawling oceanfront before gaining elevation and hugging the rocky coastline for approximately 1 mile. The 39 benches dotting the paved path offer ample opportunity for quiet contemplation and gazing upon the oft-painted vistas of Ogunquit Beach, the Atlantic Ocean, and a small lighthouse. Marginal Way’s terminus is at Oarweed Cove; a narrow spit of land separates it from the compact yet equally picturesque Perkins Cove. Fishing charters depart from the wharf, and visitors flock to photograph the harbor, browse the cluster of art galleries and boutiques, and enjoy lobster rolls and chowder. While you can always retrace your steps—Marginal Way never gets old!—an alternate way back is to walk along Perkins Cove Road and then Shore Road, passing numerous shops en route.

A nearby point of interest is Mount Agamenticus, just 6.5 miles southwest of downtown Ogunquit, in York.  Take Route 1 south a few miles, make a right onto Agamenticus Road, and another right onto Mountain Way. Just when you start to think you’re lost on this curvy back road, you’ll see signs for the Mount Agamenticus summit. Rising only about 700 feet, Agamenticus is clearly no Everest, but its proximity to sea level makes it a prominent fixture on the horizon. The surrounding 10,000 acres are managed as a conservation region, thus preserving vernal pools, a superb vantage point for watching migratory hawks, a unique coastal ecological habitat, and a good bit of history. The first radar tower in the nation was placed atop Agamenticus in the 1940s, and the expansive view of the southern Maine coast made it strategic for spotting submarines and warships during WWII. In later years, wildfires became a greater threat than enemy vessels; the radar tower was supplanted by a fire tower still actively manned today. Agamenticus even enjoyed a brief and more benign stint (1964-73) as a ski resort. The summit lodge remains, and many of today’s multi-use trails (hiking, mountain biking, snowshoeing/cross-country skiing) were once ski runs.

Intrepid Pup loves the ruggedness, summit view, and relative solitude. Like giant calluses on the landscape, the smooth outcroppings of bedrock  on so many of the former ski slopes can prove slick for the two-footed (particularly during spring run-off and mud season), but scrambling over the terrain is what Tavish most enjoys about  a visit to Agamenticus. Choose from among three loop trails that vary in length from 2 to 3.2 miles.  Dogs must remain leashed, and all waste must be packed out, because there are no trash bins onsite.

 

A Rewarding Moment

One excited Intrepid Pup

What’s Tavish all excited about? Intrepid Pup is now an AWARD-WINNING blog!

There’s rarely a dull moment where Tavish is involved. The latest case in point: Intrepid Pup has been honored by BlogPaws as Best New Blog. Wow!

BlogPaws was founded in 2009 by Caroline Golon, Yvonne DiVita, and Tom Collins. It’s the go-to resource for pet enthusiasts, pet bloggers, shelters, rescues, and the brands who serve them. BlogPaws offers online and offline opportunities to partner on projects and campaigns, be educated on social media, and meet people all over the country. Its annual conference unites hundreds of attendees from around the globe for professional development, networking, and cause marketing. Introduced with this year’s BlogPaws conference was the first annual Nose-to-Nose Pet Blogging and Social Media Awards, officially sponsored by Halo, Purely for Pets and Freekibble.com.

As BlogPaws states, “This is the only awards program where pet bloggers (and pet people who “microblog” on Twitter and Facebook) are being judged by a panel of distinguished professionals on their expertise, creativity, and performance.” Team Tavish was notified back in mid-May that the Intrepid Pup had been nominated and was among the finalists for 2 of the 12 possible awards! Intrepid Pup was humbled to be with such talented company in the categories of Best Blog Writing (“judged on overall writing skill”) and Best New Blog (for blogs “less than one year old, with good content and engagement”).

Then came the waiting.

Unfortunately we couldn’t make it out to Salt Lake City to be on hand for the red carpet gala on June 23, 2012, so we were really grateful that BlogPaws was live-streaming the awards ceremony on UStream. Leading pet lifestyle expert, endangered animal and rescue advocate, best-selling author, and TV personality Wendy Diamond was the emcee, and the ballroom was filled with two- and four-footed guests!

We had just returned from an exhaustingly fun Conestoga Vizsla Club event, and Tavish was getting  comfy on the living room sofa while we were frantically tuning in to the live video feed and concurrent “BlogPawty” on Twitter…all seamlessly orchestrated.  And shortly after 8PM EST, here’s what we saw:

Amazing. When we first launched the Intrepid Pup’s interactive website at the end of January 2012 and then the blog—a mere 5 months ago…what a blur!—we were prepared for the journey but uncertain where it would lead. In inviting you to “Come! Adventures Await”, we combine imagery and narrative to promote lifelong learning and an active lifestyle with one’s pet by chronicling Tavish’s own adventures at national parks, natural wonders, museums, historical sites, events, and attractions throughout the country. From time to time, the blog also reflects upon Tavish’s inspirational experiences as a certified therapy dog working with children and the elderly in a variety of settings. It’s pure enjoyment: part wonderment, part educational, and all about being out and about in the world with one intrepid pup.

So, it’s an extremely special combination to be new to the pet blogging community and to be recognized in BlogPaws’ inaugural awards as the “Best New Blog.” Making it all the sweeter is the fact that the award comes with an opportunity to give back. Sponsors Freekibble.com and Halo, Purely for Pets have teamed up to allow the BlogPaws award winners to donate 5,000-meals apiece to the organizations of our choice.

If you’re not already familiar with these two companies, you should be! Since 2008 Freekibble has donated more than 7.7 million meals to dogs and cats at shelters, rescues, and foodbanks by featuring  daily trivia questions on its websites Freekibble.com and Freekibblekat.com. Visitors to the sites submit their online answers and—right or wrong!—automatically contribute 10 pieces of kibble to homeless pets. Halo, Purely for Pets has been Freekibble’s official pet food sponsor since 2010 and annually donates upwards of one million meals of Halo Spot’s Stew that Freekibble then distributes to shelters and rescues throughout the United States. What a winning combination! Halo, co-owned by animal advocate (and comedian/television host/actress) Ellen DeGeneres, has been making all-natural pet food since 1986.

So, what is the Intrepid Pup’s charity of choice to receive the 5,000 meals?

AWS logoThe Animal Welfare Society (AWS) – West Kennebunk, Maine.
Although Tavish didn’t come from a shelter, we at Team Tavish truly believe that Tavish owes a good deal of his sociability, confidence, and training to the many classes— puppy, obedience, agility, rally—that we took at AWS, our local shelter while we were living in Maine. It’s for this reason that we want to award 5,000 meals to AWS and give a special shout-out and thank-you to our former AWS trainers Kim, Amy, Maryjane, and SaShell. It’s especially important for folks to realize that through various outreach programs, quality shelters like AWS can and do play a vital, continuing role in fostering a positive human-pet bond beyond initial adoption services.

About AWS
AWS is a private, non-profit humane society. Begun in the early 1960s by a group of caring individuals, the AWS incorporated in 1967 and today is a vibrant 13,000 s.f. facility which in 2011 added its own in-house spay and neuter clinic. AWS currently provides municipal shelter services to 21 contracted towns representing a population of nearly 150,000 people throughout southern Maine. AWS is an open-admission facility and accepts every animal—strays, transfers, and surrenders—regardless of health, age, or perceived “adoptability.” Through its day camps, school and museum visits, classes, presentations and other community-based initiatives, AWS actively promotes kindness, the elimination of cruelty to and neglect of all animals, and the lifelong commitment of people to their pets.

As Nose-to-Nose winners, we were given one final opportunity to “pay it forward.”  Collectively the awardees from all 12 categories were asked to vote on which pet-related organization should receive one of BlogPaws’ traditional closing ceremony donations. Happily, a $2,000 donation is going to World Vets, a non-government organization founded in 2006, which provides veterinary aid in developing countries and veterinary disaster relief worldwide. Its primary focus is to make veterinary care accessible to the 99 percent of animals in developing countries that never see a veterinarian. This North Dakota-based non-profit has deployed more than 3,600 volunteers to 36 countries on six continents and collaborates with animal advocacy groups, foreign governments, US and foreign military groups and veterinary professionals abroad.

Click to see what a 3 on the Wag-A-Meter meansMany thanks to BlogPaws, Freekibble, and Halo for their generosity and support of these awards and animals the world over. We’re truly honored. And finally, thanks to the Intrepid Pup’s friends old and new. As many faithful followers of the Intrepid Pup already know, one hallmark of Tavish’s adventure-related blog posts is a “Dogging the Details” section with a Intrepid Pup wag-a-meter reading…and this one definitely tops out at a 3!

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In the Pursuit of Lobster

Maine Lobsterman StatueEvery year National Lobster Day is celebrated by foodies across America on June 15. While the origins of this “holiday” remain as murky as the waters in which lobsters thrive, there’s no doubting that the observance makes for a great excuse to don a bib and indulge in fresh lobster and drawn butter!

Being from Maine, the Intrepid Pup has seen his share of lobster boats, traps, and buoys. The Maine Lobstermen’s Association—the largest commercial fishing industry group on the east coast, representing the interests of more than 1,200 lobstermen—is even headquartered in what was once his home community! So when Team Tavish learned that the nation’s capital contains a lobster statue, we knew this was a destination for the Intrepid Pup!

The Maine Lobsterman Statue is relatively inconspicuous in its marina location along Washington, DC’s Anacostia Riverfront, in very close proximity to Arena Stage and the nation’s oldest United States Marine Corps Barracks. The statue was originally created by Portland, Maine, sculptor Victor Kahill as the centerpiece of Maine’s section in the Hall of States at the 1939 World’s Fair. Over time, four bronze castings have been made: 3 for locations in Maine and one for Washington, DC. The model for the sculpture was a genuine Maine lobsterman, H. Elroy Johnson of Bailey Island, who expressed regret that his faithful dog Bruin had not been incorporated into the final piece. Since Bruin’s puppyhood, he had only ever missed five days of accompanying his master to haul traps. Talk about intrepid! At the Fair’s unveiling of the sculpture, Bruin—who was said to be unerring in his ability to distinguish “shorts” from “counters” (e.g. non-regulation vs. regulation size lobsters)—was issued an official lobster license by the Commissioner of Sea and Shore Fisheries.

On the morning of the Intrepid Pup’s visit to the statue, few others were out along the waterfront promenade. However, we did encounter two women sitting on a park bench talking as their dogs played in the grass. It turns out that they lived in the nearby condominium complex and were very familiar with the lobsterman statue. The one lady remarked that the man in the sculpture bears a striking resemblance to a young Abraham Lincoln (and he does!) and therefore always refers to the statue as “Lincoln Freeing the Lobsters”!

Dogging the Details

38°52′32.01″ N,  77°1′16.55″ W
Maine Lobsterman Statue, Washington, DC

wag-a-meter set at 2The statue earns a 2 on the Wag-A-Meter both for its ease in experiencing and also for its interesting canine backstory!

While there is ample parking nearby, actually snagging a space can be a trick, especially during nice weather and busy weekends, because the area fills up with marina personnel, boat owners and people going to the nearby seafood restaurants. Fortunately, DC is very walkable, and if you’re up for a longer stroll with your dog, this Southwest DC location is accessible from the L’Enfant Plaza area and even the Jefferson Memorial area.

 

Turtles, Goslings & Lily Pads, Oh My!

Tavish at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

Tavish at the lily ponds. The hardy and tropical water lilies were blooming, little jewels of color amid the emerald green pads. Surrounding many of the ponds are irises, but the yellow variety is invasive. It is still too early for the lotus blossoms that are hallmarks of the summer months.

Even if today wasn’t National Public Gardens Day, we’d be touting Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens. Did you know that it’s the only National Park Service site devoted to the cultivation and care of aquatic plants?

The precise story behind Kenilworth is one you couldn’t make up if you tried. Walter B. Shaw was a Civil War veteran who had lost his right arm in the fighting. He settled in Washington, D.C., securing a job as a Treasury Department clerk after teaching himself to write left-handed. Outside of government work, however, Shaw’s true love was water lilies. Eager to propagate them, he secured a dozen specimens from his home state of Maine and placed them in an unused ice pond on his 30 acres. When his hobby outgrew the one pond, he simply built more ponds until—under the auspices of the newly established W. B. Shaw Lily Ponds—he was successfully collecting exotic varieties, experimenting with hybrids, and commercially shipping plants nationwide. His daughter Helen Shaw Fowler joined him in his business ventures, and together they opened the gardens for the public’s enjoyment. Under Helen’s careful stewardship, the gardens expanded even further after Shaw’s death in 1921, and literally thousands of visitors a day (including President and Mrs. Coolidge!) flocked to marvel at the aquatic blooms during the summer months.

Fast forward to the 1930s and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was faced with dredging the silt-choked Anacostia River, an act that would have signaled the demise of the gardens. Helen fought the plans and an accord was reached in 1938 when Congress allocated $15,000 to purchase eight acres of the gardens for public preservation. Helen continued to live on the property until her death in 1953 but taught Fred Lundy, a gardener with the National Park Service, how to care for the water lilies. The Park Service eventually took over management of the garden and renamed it Kenilworth to reflect the name of the broader community. Today the park consists of 45 ponds of water lilies across 12 acres, enveloped by another 70 acres of freshwater tidal marshlands.

Midday yesterday Tavish the Intrepid Pup was eager to start exploring, and everything about his body language screamed, “What magical place is this, anyway?” Talk about sensory overload! At the lily ponds there were Canada geese (and therefore also a lot of goose droppings). We’d been advised by the park ranger when we arrived that there were several fledglings about, so we kept our distance. Tavish was actually pretty unphased by these tawny goslings paddling by…because there were BUTTERFLIES! And FROGS!  Ok, so technically we never saw a frog, but from the blurs of color and the loud splooshing sounds, we could tell they were big. It was great fun watching Tavish try to anticipate where the next blur and sploosh would come from. Oh, and the TURTLES! There were a few small painted turtles perched on logs, but they had nothing on the dinner platter-sized snapping turtles hanging out sunbathing at the ponds’ edges. These guys were perceptive and before we could come within ten paces it was like those targets in a county fair shooting gallery where each  toppled in succession with an unceremonious plunk. Invariably we were rewarded with a closer look when a few poked their heads back up out of the muddy water.

Tavish at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

Though hard to disengage Tavish from the endless fascinations of the lily ponds, we did finally make it onto the River Trail (note: NOT a loop; it’s 0.7 miles each way). It meanders in a northwesterly direction among the thick scent of honeysuckle and then follows the bend of the Anacostia River for a stretch. It ends at the inlet into the marsh itself, which is where you’d enter Kenilworth if coming by kayak or canoe. You never fully escape the incessant thrum of car traffic careening by on Route 50, punctuated by the occasional clatter of an Amtrak train crossing the railroad bridge. Where this might be overtly annoying in another setting, in a strange way, the noise serves notice that this fragile environment struggles to exist in spite of urban encroachment.

Returning to the lily ponds, we set out in the opposite direction onto the extensive boardwalk. Signs along the trail have faded considerably, but on this sunny, breezy afternoon we didn’t exactly need a plaque to tell us that the fish and tadpoles were plentiful. Tavish kept poking his head through the railing to watch them. Red-winged blackbirds darted among the tall grasses, and a great blue heron soared above. Just another spectacular day in the marsh.

Dogging the Details

38°54′45.50″N,  76°56′31.24″W
Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens
, Washington, DC

Tavish at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

Click to see what 2 on the Wag-A-Meter means

It can be a little tricky navigating this residential area in northeast Washington to find the proper entrance to the aquatic gardens, so if you have GPS, use it!

Intrepid Pup has been to Kenilworth before, but it really pays to be a repeat visitor. While the walking trails are always nice, the visual appeal of the ponds changes dramatically throughout the seasons.

When we stopped in at the visitor center to snag a map, the Park Service ranger—a helpful young woman who, come to find out, was getting married this weekend at another National Park—was genuinely pleased to see us and remarked, “Kenilworth definitely welcomes leashed dogs!” The dog-friendly trails and scenery earn Kenilworth a “2” on the Intrepid Pup wag-a-meter. Of course, the general courtesy about cleaning up after your dog still very much applies, and there are waste receptacles conveniently located throughout the front section of the gardens (though not so much on the River Trail or boardwalk sections).  Tavish stayed in the vestibule of the Visitor Center as dogs aren’t permitted inside, but there is a small bookshop and a series of compact displays about the importance of the wetlands and the history of Kenilworth—from use as the fishing grounds of the Nacotchtank peoples through to the present day.

Walk every step of the grounds around the various ponds, out-and-back on the River Trail, and along the boardwalk, and you’ll be lucky to have eked out 2 miles. But you’ll easily have whiled away an hour or two, especially if you have a curious pup intently stalking every lily pad fluttering in the breeze!

Getting Out and About in Vacationland

Just learned about the inaugural Great Maine Outdoor Weekend taking place this March 2-4, 2012. It’s being touted as a bi-annual celebration with a “series of events scheduled all across the great state of Maine to help connect [people] with the natural world, and promote fun, physical activity, and good health.”

Well, if that isn’t something that appeals to the Intrepid Pup’s sensibilities, we don’t know what will! Tavish isn’t in Maine this weekend to help celebrate, but he did spend the first 5½ years of his life in “Vacationland” living the state’s motto “Maine: The Way Life Should Be.” And in that time, he had ample opportunity to sample and enjoy some of the best trails, views and natural beauty the state has to offer. So, while this is by no means a comprehensive list, here are some of the Intrepid Pup’s top picks, by region, for getting out and about with your dog in Vacationland:

Dogging the Details

wag-a-meter set at 2

The three excursions described below all rank “2” on the Wag-a-meter as these are active, outdoor adventures with some pre-planning required. You’ll also be out-and-about pretty much the whole day with your dog, so be sure to pack along food/treats, water, and doggie bags.

 

 

 

MAINE BEACHES

43°20′51.32″ N, 70°28′50.92″ W
Kennebunk Beach, Kennebunk, Maine

Kennebunk BeachIf you’ve always associated Maine with craggy shorelines, there are plenty. But you might be surprised to learn that beautiful sandy beaches can be found in coastal towns throughout southern Maine. One favorite is Kennebunk Beach. At low tide, this crescent-shaped swath of sand extends out about a hundred yards before receding into the Atlantic Ocean. Then, if you could even see this far, the next land you’d spot would be Portugal. Seriously. The surrounding communities, collectively known as the Kennebunks, are tourist magnets (particularly in the summer and fall), but Kennebunk Beach holds a year-round allure even after temperatures for swimming and sun-bathing are but distant memories. The sidewalk follows the shoreline and is great for dog-walking, complete with several waste receptacles and doggie-bag dispensers. In fact, this same scenic route along the seawall is used by the area’s Animal Welfare Society for its insanely popular (and fun) annual “Strut Your Mutt” fundraiser.

Within certain hours, dogs are allowed ON the beach, too, provided you follow the regulations. Kennebunk Beach is a great spot for your dog to run, swim, and enjoy the company of the myriad other dogs and dog owners you’ll find. Do note that in the summer, nearby parking requires a beach permit.

Want to spend a full day exploring the Kennebunks with your dog? If it’s between June 15 and the day after Labor Day, time your romp on Kennebunk Beach to be either before 9 AM or after 5 PM. For the rest of the day, consider heading to Kennebunk’s very own dog park just a short drive from the beach up Sea Road. This fenced-in dog park shares an entrance with Kennebunk’s recycling center and is open daily from dawn to dusk. Still have energy to burn? From the dog park, go across Sea Road into the parking lot for Sea Road School. On the left-hand side, you’ll be able to access the trailhead for the Bridle Path, going southeast. Since it’s the former rail bed for the Boston & Maine Railroad from 1883, it’s pretty flat. For a little ways you’ll snake behind neighborhoods, but before long, you’re surrounded by woods and marshland. Keep your eyes peeled for glimpses of the Mousam River to the west; it’s a favorite for birders and kayakers. In this direction, the trail ends in about 2 miles at the junction with Western Avenue. Reward yourself and your dog for a day well-spent by heading into the heart of nearby Kennebunkport. Just a block off Dock Square, along Ocean Avenue, you’ll find Scalawags, a marvelous pet boutique, where a bowl of fresh water always awaits. Owner Mary Beth does a great job of sourcing tasty dog treats and an array of truly unique Maine-made and Maine-inspired wares (think rope leashes hand-crafted by Maine lobstermen!) for your four-legged friends. Extending your stay is always an option, and you’re in luck in that the Kennebunks are home to a number of pet-friendly accommodations like the Captain Jefferds Inn, the Colony Hotel, the Hounds Tooth Inn, and the Yachtsman.

 

GREATER PORTLAND AND CASCO BAY

43°39′02.59″ N, 70°11′41.37″ W
Peaks Island, Maine

Peaks IslandTeam Tavish dug back into the Intrepid Pup archives for this pic of an approximately 11-week-old Tavish on one of his very first trips to what would become a frequent destination: Peaks Island. Of the several hundred island communities that dot Casco Bay, Peaks is the most populous with ~1,100 year-round residents, though that number swells to 4,000+ during the summer months. Peaks is actually part of the City of Portland, but its history has been punctuated by various—and as yet, unsuccessful—secessionist movements. It’s accessible via a 15-minute ride from downtown Portland on the Casco Bay Lines ferry and is thus a popular day-trip destination. Vehicle traffic is minimal, with bicycles and golf-carts easily outnumbering cars on the roads. At just 2 miles long and about a mile wide, Peaks is both walkable and eminently picturesque.

Dogs are allowed on the ferry but do need their own tickets. Climb aboard and take a seat on the open-air top deck. It’s not uncommon to spot harbor seals en route. Once you arrive at the ferry landing on Peaks, walk up the ramp to Downfront, where you can fortify yourself with an ice cream cone. As you head out the door, hook a right to stay on  Island Avenue and go back past the ferry landing, a little park, and a few restaurants. Within about 1/4 mile, the road will curve inland. Make a right on Whitehead and look for the short walking trail that leads down to Picnic Point and Hadlock Cove, where this photo of Tavish was taken. Here’s your craggy coastline and a stunning view of Casco Bay! If you bring along a picnic and a camera and never get any further in exploring Peaks, you won’t be disappointed. There is, however, much more to see. For a longer walk, rejoin the main road heading east, and within a few hundred feet you’ll come upon the Fifth Maine Museum. Its Memorial Hall cottage was constructed in 1888 as a memorial and reunion site for members of the Fifth Regiment Maine Volunteer Infantry (1861-1864) active during the Civil War. The museum’s exhibitions and programming cover regimental history and, more broadly, various facets of the island’s settlement. The museum is also playing a key role in the statewide sesquicentennial commemoration of Maine’s role in the Civil War. Heading right (east) from the Fifth Maine Museum, Seashore Avenue passes the 8th Maine Regiment building (now a lodge) and then quickly opens onto panoramic shoreline vistas. Seashore Avenue makes a circuit of the island and winds up being a little more than a 3-mile walk, ultimately reconnecting to Island Avenue, delivering you past the quirky, seasonally-open Umbrella Cover Museum and right back to where you started at the ferry landing. You can trim your overall distance by turning off Seashore Avenue onto any of the roads that bisect the island (see map). If you have time to spare before catching your return ferry, enjoy Shipyard Brewing Company beverages and a meal at the Inn on Peaks. When outdoor seating is available, your dog can join you on the patio.

MIDCOAST

44°13′22.91″ N, 69°04′07.73″ W
Mount Battie, Camden Hills State Park, Camden, Maine

Mount BattieCamden, Maine is a charming Midcoast town with quaint shops and inns, great seafood, schooner charters, and a bustling autumn Windjammer Festival that spotlights Camden’s picturesque marina. It’s also great base from which to undertake some hiking. Just over a mile outside the town center, heading north on Belfast Road/Route 1, is the main entrance on the left to Camden Hills State Park. The 30+ miles of trails are well-maintained and well-marked, but they do intersect one another frequently within the park’s 5,700 acres, so it helps to request a map at the ranger station and have a ranger suggest an appropriate route, based upon the time you have available.

A favorite of Team Tavish is the Mount Battie Trail, which is accessed from the parking area just beyond the ranger station. While the trail isn’t technically challenging (heck, it even crisscrosses the auto road to the summit, but driving up would be “cheating”!), it’s a lovely couple miles of walking in the woods, and the payoff is huge. The trail tops out at a smooth rock outcropping 780′ above sea level with a breath-taking view of Camden Harbor immediately below and Penobscot Bay beyond. In autumn, leaf-peeping and spotting the migrating hawks are additional draws. For a longer foray, daisy-chain the trails and try out Bald Mountain (1200′), Mount Megunticook (1385′), or Maiden Cliff (800′).

Word has it that the next Great Maine Outdoor Weekend is already slated for September 28-30, 2012.  Stay tuned for the Intrepid Pup to share more of his favorite Maine excursions then!