This farming and lumbering community in western Maine was already popular among East Coast fisherman for its big and plentiful “brookies” by the end of the 19th century. In the 1920s, primitive camps began giving way to comfortable lodges and showcase hotels. After World War II, with tastes changing, Rangeley’s luster dimmed, and the tourism scene became less grand. Today, sleepy though it may be, Rangeley remains a worthy getaway. The possibility of hauling in a trophy brook trout or landlocked salmon lives on. Plus, some of the rustic lodges and sporting camps are going strong, and there are plenty of guides to lead the city-weary off into the wilds for renewal.
The 14 lakeside cabins at Bald Mountain Camps (125 Bald Mountain Road, Oquossoc, 207-864-3671, www.baldmountain
camps.com; year-round cabin rentals start at $125/night) look out over beautiful Mooselookmeguntic Lake. A local landmark since the 1800s, the camps have hosted many visitors, including Teddy Roosevelt. For a more elaborate wilderness adventure, visit the legendary Grant’s Kennebago Camps (Kennebago River Road, 800-633-4815, www.grantscamps
.com; rates start at $170 per adult/per night). Built in 1904, the camps are located between Kennebago Lake and the Kennebago River (Kennebago is a Native American word for “land of sweet flowing water”). The Kennebagos (Kennebago Lake, Upper and Lower Kennebago River, The Logan, and Flat Iron Pond) are home to some of the best landlocked salmon and wild brook trout fishing in all of Maine. A stay at Grant’s Camps includes three hearty meals each day (for beer or wine, bring your own); the chefs will even cook up your catch of trout or salmon if you like. Guided fishing and hunting, motorboat rental, swimming, hiking, and biking are available. Use of canoes, kayaks, or sailboat is free July 10-Aug. 31. If you would rather spend a night in town, step back in time at the Rangeley Inn (2443 Main St, 207-864-2781, www.rangeleyinn.com; standard rooms $84-$125). Built in the 1870s, the 35 rooms have been kept up to date, but their original charm endures; enjoy antique furnishings, views of Haley Pond, fine dining, and complimentary canoes. If you’d prefer, stay right on the water at the newly added Lakeside Lodge.
Outdoor adventurers will need to fuel up before they start their day. For buttermilk pancakes, a “western Maine” omelet, eggs Benedict, or French toast, head to The Gingerbread House (55 Carry Road, Oquossoc, 207-864-3602, www.ginger
breadhouserestaurant.net). Come midday, Pine Tree Frosty (2459 Main St., 207-864-5894) serves local Gifford’s ice cream, hot dogs, burgers, and lobster rolls too. Authentic Thai cooking at the Thai Blossom Restaurant (2473 Main St., 207-864-9035) is perfect for lunch or dinner. Chef-owner Somchai “Sam” Sriweawnetr has cooked for the Kennedys and the Bushes, and is famous for leading a group of American hostages to freedom in Iran, during the hostage crisis in 1979. Sriweawnetr also owns Equator Restaurant in Boston. Open 7 days a week in the summer, The Corner Side (2485 Main St., 207-864-2883, www
.atthecornerside.com) offers local cheese and charcuterie, tapas, supper, and a full bar. Sundays and Mondays are “Pub Nights,” a little more casual, with classics such as burgers and pulled pork sandwiches. Right next to The Corner Side, The Farmer’s Daughter (2485 Main St., 207-864-2733) is a well-stocked farmstand, with a great selection of beer as well as fine provisions if you’re in the mood to cook.
DURING THE DAY
Start the day by hiking the Bald Mountain Trail (trailhead is a half mile down Bald Mountain Road, off Route 4 in Oquossoc). Climb the watchtower for panoramic views of the surrounding lakes and mountains. Head into town and you’ll want to linger inside Books, Lines, and Thinkers (2513 Main St., 207-864-4355), which has a carefully selected collection of new and used books. For the nature lover, Ecopelagicon (7 Pond St., 207-864-2771, www.ecopelagicon
.com) is stocked with nature and local history books, educational toys, gifts, maps, and camping gear. For further exploration, rent a kayak, canoe, rowboat, or paddleboat. Guided tours available. If you plan to do some fishing, Rangeley Region Sportshop (2529 Main St., 207-864-5615, www.rangeleysportshop.com) has more than 20,000 flies in stock, as well as clothing, gear, knives, dog supplies, and more. Enjoy a swim and picnic lunch at Smalls Falls Rest Area (12 miles south of Rangely, off Route 4), surrounded by waterfalls and sculpted rocks of the Sandy River and Chandler Mill Stream. With deep swimming holes, 52 foot cliffs, walking trails, and a picnic area, it is a perfect spot to rest and spend an afternoon. Pay a visit to the intriguing Wilhelm Reich Museum (Dodge Pond Road, Rangeley, 207-864-3443, www.wilhelmreichtrust.org). See what lies behind the doors of the Orgone Energy Observatory, which was once the home, laboratory, and research center of the famous psychoanalyst. Original laboratory equipment, artwork, and apparatuses are on display.
Sit by the soft light of oil lamps and a wood-burning fireplace at The Pour House (see Rangeley Inn). Microbrews on tap. For live music on the weekends, don’t miss 4 Seasons Cafe (92 Carry Road, Oquossoc, 207-864-2020). Indoor/outdoor seating, food, and drinks. Movie fans can catch a flick at Lakeside Theatre (2493 Main St., 207-864-5000, www.rangeleymovies
.com). The 167-seat facility is also available to host live music, private parties, and events. With 10 new bowling lanes, an arcade, and billiards room, Moose Alley (2809 Main St., 207-864-9955, www.moosealleymaine
.com) features a late night snack bar, live music Friday and Saturday nights, and a private party room.