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Welcome to Gray & New Gloucester

The sister communities of Gray and New Gloucester boast a wildlife park, Pineland Farm’s educational and recreational facilities, the last active Shaker village in the world and the historic Poland Spring Resort (yes, where that well-known water company got its start). Or head northwest to visit Norway, a classic little Maine town experimenting with going green.

 

1. Maine Wildlife Park

Maggie the Moose at two weeks old at Maine Wildlife Park. Photo by Carl Walsh/Portland Press Herald

Visiting the Maine Wildlife Park (56 Game Farm Road, Gray) is a guaranteed way to get up close (sort of) to several Maine moose; 1-year-old Maggie and adults Annie and Byron live there full time. The park has more than 30 other species of Maine wildlife that for various reasons cannot be released back into the wild. Open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; visitors may stay until 6 p.m. (Free for ages 3 and under, $5.50 for ages 4–12 and seniors, $7.50 for ages 13–59; 207–657–977; mainewildlifepark.com)

2. Spring Meadows Golf Club

This lush 18-hole championship course has a full-service facility with a complete pro shop, rental clubs and players’ lounge. The course is at 59 Lewiston Road in Gray. (207–657–2586 or springmeadowsgolf.com)

3. Libby Hill Forest

Nine miles of recreational—and dog-welcoming—trails are yours for the hiking at this wooded wonderland of pine and oak in Gray. Identify birds, wildlife and wildflowers and spot one of the stone crevasses where porcupines often live. At Thayer Brook, check out Whale Rock and other erratics and the 100-foot-high esker, another glacial remnant. Park on Libby Hill Road across from Gray-New Gloucester Middle School, where the trail starts. There’s no fee. (libbyhill.org)

4. Pineland Farms Trails

Pineland Farms. Courtesy photo

Pineland is a 5,000-acre working farm in the hills of New Gloucester that has beautiful woodlands and fields that are open to the public (but not dogs) for hiking and mountain biking. There’s also a disc golf course. Pineland’s welcome center is at 15 Farm View Drive, New Gloucester and includes an outstanding market filled with local foods (open every day, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends). Visit the website for trail conditions and maps.(pinelandfarms.org)

5. Big Falls Preserve

Big Falls Preserve. Photo by George Estabrook

The Royal River Conservation Trust maintains this new 40-acre preserve on the New Gloucester-Auburn line. Big Falls refers to the scenic waterfall at the mouth of a small pool, accessible by one of the trails, a 1.5 mile loop. The trust is working to install trail signs and blazes in 2019, but in the meantime, the trail is marked with survey flags and signs where the trails leave the roads. Park off the side of Woodman Road, New Gloucester. (rrct.org/preserves-trails/big-falls-preserve)

6. Visit a Shaker Village

The Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village (707 Shaker Road, New Gloucester), set on 1,800 acres in New Gloucester, is home to the world’s only active Shaker community. There’s a museum and regular tours. You might get to meet Brother Arnold Hadd, the last Shaker and see the honey bee hives and the historic herb gardens as well. (maineshakers.com)

7. Outlet Beach

Outlet Beach. Photo by Derek Dewey

A small, extremely family-friendly and family-owned beach on the northern side of Sabbathday Lake, Outlet Beach has water slides and diving boards (with mini versions for the little ones), water tubes and other toys for rent and a pleasant wooded picnic area. Ice cream and (super fancy) hot dogs are available at the Bresca and the Honeybee, run by James Beard nominated chef Krista Desjarlais. Find the beach at 106 Outlet Road, New Gloucester. (207–926–3388)

8. Summer Concerts at Poland Spring Resort

Poland Springs Resort. Photo by Derek Dewey

On Monday nights throughout August, check out this free sunset concert series, which features local bands playing in the gazebo, with plenty of room on the lawn for the audience. Aug. 5 will be the Grassholes, a five-piece bluegrass band, the act on Aug. 12 is Red Beans & Rice, a blues duo, Aug. 19 is vocalist Julie Thompson. On Aug. 26, singer Kathy Haley and pianist Phil House will be in the Old Souls Chapel (that’s one of the bad weather venues, along with the Maine Inn Dining Room). Showtimes are at 6:30 p.m. on the lawn at this old-time Maine resort. 37 Preservation Way if you’re using GPS. (207–998–4142; polandspringps.org)

9. Gray Blueberry Festival

This annual festival (24 Main Street, Gray) features live bands, local artisans and food vendors peddling delicious blueberry-themed treats. Look for activities like corn hole, wagon rides, diaper derby, fun run, face painting, rock climbing, tours of the restored 1880’s Pennell Clock plus, blueberry-pie eating contests. A one day event on Saturday, Aug. 10, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

10. Range Pond State Park

Range Pond State Park. Photo by Carl D. Walsh/Portland Press Herald

This state park on Lower Range Pond (26 State Park Road, Poland) has about eight miles of recently expanded and well maintained bike trails (suitable for beginners), a sandy beach and plenty of cool water to enjoy a swim in after a ride or a paddle. You can also go fishing for smallmouthed bass, pickerel, white perch and stocked brown trout. In the winter, it’s also a popular destination for ice fishing. ($8; 207–998–4104)

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