Picture this: you’re standing atop Bald Mountain, gazing at the breathtaking vistas that stretch as far as the eye can see. Trust me, it’s a view that will leave you speechless and yearning for more.
Dating back to the 19th century, Rangeley’s history is steeped in tales of adventure and discovery. Originally settled as a logging town, it quickly became a hub for outdoor enthusiasts seeking respite in its natural wonders. As you stroll through the streets lined with historic buildings, you can almost hear the echoes of the past whispering their stories. Rangeley’s captivating past is woven into its very fabric, creating an ambiance that is both nostalgic and inviting.
Let me share a personal anecdote with you. During my visit to Rangeley, I found myself utterly captivated by the tranquil beauty that surrounds the area. From the shimmering waters of Rangeley Lake to the vibrant hues of autumn foliage painting the landscape, I couldn’t help but fall head over heels for this place. It’s the kind of destination that embraces you like an old friend, making you feel instantly at ease and at home.
Let’s have a look together at the best 10 things you can do if you visit Rangeley, Maine:
Explore Rangeley Lake
Rangeley Lake is situated in the western mountains of Maine, surrounded by the scenic Rangeley Lakes Region. It covers an expansive area of approximately 6,000 acres, making it one of the largest lakes in the state.
The lake is renowned for its pristine beauty, with clear waters that reflect the surrounding mountains and forests. The tranquil ambiance and picturesque landscapes make it a popular destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.
Keep an eye out for bald eagles soaring overhead, loons gracefully swimming on the water, and deer venturing to the shoreline for a drink.
Spend a day on the crystal-clear waters of Rangeley Lake. Rent a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard to leisurely explore the lake’s scenic coves, or embark on a fishing adventure to catch native brook trout and landlocked salmon.
Hike to Saddleback Mountain
The hike to Saddleback Mountain is a challenging but rewarding trek. The most popular trail is the Appalachian Trail (AT) route, which approaches Saddleback from the east.
The total round-trip distance for the AT hike to Saddleback Mountain is approximately 8 miles, but it can vary depending on the exact trailhead you start from.
The trail is well-marked with white blazes, making it relatively easy to follow. However, it is always recommended to carry a detailed map, compass, or GPS device for navigation.
The hike to Saddleback Mountain is considered a moderate to difficult hike, suitable for experienced hikers or those in good physical condition.
Lace up your hiking boots and embark on a trek to the summit of Saddleback Mountain. The trail offers breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks, Rangeley Lake, and the vast wilderness of Maine.
Visit Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust
The RLHT actively works to conserve and steward the lands, waters, and wildlife of the Rangeley Lakes region. They acquire and manage land and easements to ensure the long-term protection of natural habitats, scenic landscapes, and important ecological features.
Discover the region’s natural and cultural heritage at the Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust. Explore their nature preserves and trails, join guided wildlife walks, or learn about local conservation efforts.
Go Wildlife Watching
Rangeley is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. Take a scenic drive along Route 16 or venture into the Rangeley Lakes Scenic Byway for opportunities to spot moose, deer, bald eagles, and other native wildlife.
One of the iconic species in the area is the majestic moose. Rangeley is home to a healthy moose population, and sightings are relatively common, particularly around marshy areas and lakeshores.
Look out for migratory songbirds, including warblers, thrushes, and sparrows during the spring and summer months. Bald eagles, ospreys, and loons are also frequently seen around the lakeshores.
TIP: The best times for Wildlife watching are early morning and late evening are typically the best times for wildlife watching, as animals are more active during these cooler hours. Additionally, the golden hours of sunrise and sunset offer stunning lighting conditions for photography
Enjoy Fishing at Rapid River
Experience world-class fly fishing on the Rapid River, renowned for its trophy-sized landlocked salmon. The Rapid River is a renowned fly-fishing destination located in the Rangeley Lakes region. It flows for approximately 8 miles, connecting Lower Richardson Lake to the Middle Dam Pool on the Upper Dam Pool of the river.
The Rapid River is primarily known for its wild brook trout population, offering an excellent opportunity for anglers to catch these prized fish. Brook trout in the Rapid River can reach impressive sizes, with trophy-sized fish being a possibility.
Take a Scenic Flight
From the air, you’ll gain a new perspective on the vastness of Rangeley Lake, the winding rivers, and the surrounding mountain ranges. Soar above the stunning landscapes of Rangeley on a scenic flight. Marvel at aerial views of the majestic mountains, sprawling lakes, and dense forests while gaining a unique perspective of the region.
Scenic flights above Rangeley can range in duration, typically from 30 minutes to one hour or longer, depending on the chosen route and operator.
TIP: If you plan your scenic flight during the autumn season, you’ll be treated to a spectacular display of fall foliage. The vibrant colors of the changing leaves spread across the mountains and forests, create a picturesque and unforgettable sight.
Explore the Rangeley Outdoor Sporting Heritage Museum
Immerse yourself in the rich sporting traditions of Rangeley at the Outdoor Sporting Heritage Museum. The museum is dedicated to preserving and sharing the stories, artifacts, and traditions of outdoor sports that have played a significant role in the history and identity of Rangeley.
Through its exhibits and displays, the museum showcases the unique sporting history of the Rangeley Lakes region. It explores the early days of fishing and hunting in the area, the development of outdoor sports clubs, notable personalities, and significant events that have contributed to Rangeley’s sporting heritage.
Go Snowshoeing or Cross-Country Skiing
In the winter months, enjoy the tranquility of the snow-covered forests and trails by snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Rangeley offers a variety of groomed trails suitable for all skill levels.
Some popular trails include the Rangeley Lakes Trail Center, which offers a network of groomed cross-country ski trails, and the Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust’s nature preserves, which may have designated trails for winter recreation.
Rangeley offers options for both beginners and experienced snowshoers and cross-country skiers. Choose trails that match your skill level and fitness, ensuring an enjoyable and safe experience.
Discover Quaint Downtown Rangeley
Take a leisurely stroll through downtown Rangeley, lined with charming shops, boutiques, and art galleries.
Downtown Rangeley is home to a variety of locally owned shops and boutiques. Explore these establishments to find unique gifts, Maine-made crafts, outdoor gear, clothing, jewelry, artwork, and more.
Support local businesses and artisans while discovering one-of-a-kind treasures and souvenirs to take home with you.
Attend the Rangeley Lakes Winterfest
If you visit during February, don’t miss the Rangeley Lakes Winterfest, a lively celebration of winter activities. Enjoy snow sculptures, ice fishing contests, snowmobile races, and family-friendly events.
Winterfest offers a variety of outdoor activities that highlight the natural beauty and recreational opportunities of Rangeley in winter. These may include ice skating, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and sledding.
One of the highlights of Rangeley Lakes Winterfest is the snow sculpture contest. Teams or individuals create elaborate and artistic sculptures using the abundant snowfall in the area.