The Forks, Maine Vacation Guide
The Forks is a region of Somerset County in the Kennebec and Moose River Valleys region of Maine. Several small towns are scattered throughout The Forks area, including Caratunk, West Forks, Bingham, Concord, Moscow, and Pleasant Ridge. The Forks is the site at which the Dead River and Kennebec River converge, making it a premier destination for whitewater rafting and other outdoor recreational opportunities.
Attractions and Places of Interest
The Forks area’s greatest attraction is its natural beauty, rushing rivers, and recreational trails. The Old Canada Road Scenic Byway passes through the region. This byway, Route 201, follows an old trading path of the Abenaki Native American Tribe. When driving along Route 201, note the turn-of-the-century homes in small towns and keep an eye out for deer, fox, moose and other wildlife. If you get out of the car to explore the pristine Maine forest, note the dozens of species of birds found in the area.
Gulf Hagas is one of 14 National Natural Landmarks in Maine and is sometimes called the Grand Canyon of the East. Gulf Hagas is a short drive from The Forks area. It features a slate gorge with 130-foot walls and several waterfalls. The river drops over 370 feet when passing through the three-mile gorge. The mysterious Red Paint People tribe lived near Gulf Hagas nearly 7,500 years ago; burial grounds from this tribe have been found nearby.
The Forks has a variety outfitters and lodges, many of which offer frequent events during the summer months. Karaoke nights, live music, and lobster bakes are common occurrences, especially on summer weekends.
The Forks is best known as Maine’s best whitewater rafting destination. Here, the 43-mile long Dead River meets the 170-mile Kennebec River. Many whitewater enthusiasts begin at The Forks, traveling approximately 12 miles down the Kennebec River. Your raft will pass through the magnificent Upper Kennebec Gorge, with some challenging Class IV rapids. If you are prepared for an even more hair-raising experience, tackle the Dead River. This section of the river offers the longest continuous stretch of whitewater in all of the East. Several local outfitters offer guided tours through these stretches of river. There are guided rafting opportunities suitable for families and individuals of all skill levels.
Hikers will find much to enjoy about The Forks region. One of the most famous backpacking trails in the United States, the Appalachian Trail, passes through the region. This trail is open to the public and provides spectacular scenery. The Appalachian Trail passes near Caratunk and climbs Moxie Bald Mountain to the east. West of Caratunk, the trail winds through the Bigelow Preserve. In The Forks region, the trail passes through beautiful wilderness, clear lakes, and rolling hills.
Outdoor enthusiasts also flock to The Forks for its world-class hunting and fishing opportunities. Wyman Lake, the Dead River, the Kennebec River, and other smaller lakes and ponds offer salmon, brook trout, smallmouth bass, and brown trout. Some of Maine’s greatest trophy whitetail deer were shot in The Forks area, making it popular with deer hunters. A Registered Maine Guide can help you in your hunt for deer, moose, bear, duck, and other wild game.
In the winter, whitewater rafters are replaced by snowmobilers in The Forks. The region has over 100 miles of groomed snowmobile trails that connect with the 12,000 miles of Maine’s Interconnected Trail System. The Northern Outdoors Snowmobile Club is a local club that helps to groom and maintain the excellent trail system. The club provides up-to-date trail conditions reports and is a fully-insured snowmobile rental operator. Other local outfitters also rent snowmobiles and lead guided snowmobile tours.
The Forks’ hiking trails are also used by snowshoers and cross-country skiiers during the winter. In warmer months, ATV riders make use of the miles of snowmobile trails. Thus, The Forks region is an excellent destination for outdoor recreation at any time of the year.
Because of its reputation as a spectacular area for outdoor recreation, The Forks region offers a variety of lodging options. Several full-service lodges feature comfortable cabins or condo units. Most of these lodges also arrange snowmobile tours, ATV rides, whitewater rafting, kayaking, canoeing, hunting, fishing, and other outdoor experiences. Renting a cabin or vacation rental property can be an excellent way to bring the whole family to The Forks.
For those looking for rustic, family-operated lodging options, check out one of The Forks’ inns and bed-and-breakfasts. These establishments offer clean, comfortable rooms and complimentary breakfast. The owners can often make excellent recommendations about local outfitters and recreational opportunities.
If you are seeking an inexpensive outdoor experience, The Forks has several campgrounds. Whether you prefer tent camping or need an RV hookup, these campgrounds can provide a space for you. Staying in a campground typically provides close access to hiking and wilderness activities.
Although The Forks is a popular vacation getaway, it does not provide the fine dining experiences typical of a larger urban area. However, casual eateries and local pubs offer delicious meals. Many lodges feature an on-site restaurant or pub. The Kennebec River Brewery, located in the main lodge of The Forks Resort Center, offers specialty local Maine beers. The establishment is the northernmost brewery on Maine’s Beer Trail, which features 25 microbreweries scattered across the state. Kicking back with a handcrafted beer can be an excellent way to relax at the end of a day of whitewater rafting or hiking.
In addition to the restaurants associated with larger resorts, many of the small towns in The Forks region feature local eateries. Stop by a cafe, bakery, or ice cream shop for a local Maine dining experience.
The Forks Area Directories
Visit the following directories to find lodging, dining, attractions, shops, services and recreational activities in the The Forks, Maine area.
The Forks Maine Map