December 5, 2012

Northern Maine makes Lonely Planet travel list

Lonely Planet features the 'top half of the Maine thumb' in its guide to slightly overlooked places.

Robert Reid isn't suggesting that visitors to Maine bypass the Old Port in favor of a stay in Rumford or East Millinocket.

But the U.S. travel editor of Lonely Planet, the travel guide publisher, does suggest that visitors block out at least a few days in the northern and inland parts of the state to get a different view of Maine.

Lonely Planet's list of the top 10 U.S. travel destinations for 2013 comes out on Wednesday, and there, alongside places like California's eastern Sierras, the San Juan Islands of Washington state and Glacier National Park in Montana, is northern Maine, described as the "top half of the Maine 'thumb' reaching north to the Canada border."

Reid, who bemoans the fact that he has yet to see a moose in Maine, said the list is intended to suggest to anyone who's thinking of coming to the state to look beyond lighthouses, lobster bakes and L.L. Bean.

"Next time, add on a few days and go up (north) because it's so natural and wild," he said. "If you're following the Appalachian Trail, it's the most wild part of it."

Lonely Planet's write-up of northern Maine says the inland reaches of the state offer "a wilderness adventure with moose (despite Reid's failure to spot one), whitewater rafting and epic hiking."

It goes on to mention Mount Katahdin and Baxter State Park, along with cruises on the steamship Katahdin on Moose-head Lake.

It also points out that old rail beds in Aroostook County have been made into bike trails, and that the region's "multi-day canoe trips can paddle you right up to the Canadian border."

Reid said he was especially struck by Baxter State Park and Percival Baxter's three-decade effort to piece together more than 200,000 acres of central Maine wilderness into a park, with Mount Katahdin as its centerpiece.

Lonely Planet often highlights national parks, he said, so it's nice to use Maine's place on the list to point out that many states have spectacular parks of their own.

Reid said Lonely Planet's list is designed to point readers to "places that are just slightly overlooked," like Louisville, Ky., which is on this year's top 10 because of its "lively offbeat cultural scene."

The rest of the list includes Fairbanks, Alaska, which is touted as a great spot for catching the northern lights while taking in the local pub crawl; Philadelphia, for its growing arts district; American Samoa, "an isolated South Pacific paradise (that can be visited) without even leaving U.S. territory"; Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., a bike-friendly metropolis; and Verde Valley, Ariz., noted for its canyons and growing reputation for vineyards.

The state plans to share Lonely Planet's list far and wide, said George Gervais, commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development.

'It's good news worth spreading," Gervais said, and fits in with the state's effort to get tourists to spend more time in Maine and explore its areas.

"Plan a longer trip, stay longer and spend more," Gervais said. "There's a lot more to see in Maine than southern Maine and the beaches."

Reid said he will be on CNN around 11:30 a.m. Wednesday to discuss Lonely Planet's 2013 list.

 

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

emurphy@pressherald.com

 

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