Take a Hike!

Steps at the Trail head of Deboullie Mountain

     The warm weather is just around the corner.  It is time to start planning spring and summer activities. Make sure to add Deboullie Public Lands to that list. The Deboullie Public Reserved Lands sit in the northeast corner of the North Maine Woods. With 23,000 acres (roughly 36 square miles), there is some of the most beautiful scenery in northern Maine.  Marc Deschene, a forester for the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Division of Public Lands, said, “Many changes and improvements have been done to the area in the last seven or eight years.”

     Receding glaciers have left behind 17 ponds in the region.  The ponds range from eight to 341 acres. The surface water alone makes up nearly 900 acres.  Gardener Pond is 120 feet deep.  These deep glacial ponds are a fisherman’s dream. The Deboullie ponds are home to many types of trout including Blueback (aka the landlocked Arctic char), lake and brook trout.  Togue Pond is home to landlocked salmon and lake trout.

     There are four boat launches in the area. They are at Togue, Perch, Pushineer and Deboullie ponds. Deschene also said, “A new parking area was built to alleviate congestion at the Togue Pond boat launch.”  If you are not a fisherman, there are still plenty of options.

     There is also a large hiking trail network.  Deschene said, “Many additional miles of hiking trails have been built, which now number to 30 miles.  They have built stone steps to access steep areas and to control erosion. We have had a Maine Conservation Corps Crew working on improving the trails for several years.”

     The Bureau of Parks and Lands has a map of the region that includes a list of all of the marked hiking trails with their length and degree of difficulty. The trails range from 0.9 miles (easy hike) up to 8.4 mile (easy to difficult hike). You get a copy of the map by contacting the Bureau of Parks and Lands or the North Maine Woods offices, both in Ashland.

     For sightseeing, there are also many small waterfalls along the trail network. Deschene said, “The old Forest Service camp on top of Deboullie Mountain has all been refurbished.” A former fire tower at the top Deboullie Mountain offers 360 degree views. Deboullie is also a prime habitat for moose, deer, black bear, loons and other birds of prey.  You are asked to respect the wildlife in this area while keeping a safe distance.

     Hikers can also find “ice caves.”  The Maine.gov/dacf website said these ice caves are “shaded crevices where snow and ice can remain year-round (supporting unusual plants such as the arctic sandwort).”  You can find several caves around the north shore of Deboullie Pond.  They contain ice for most of the summer.

     Of the 30 single-party, primitive campsites, 23 can be driven to.  The campsites are located on Togue, Denny, Perch, Upper, Pushineer, Deboullie and Gardner Ponds.  There is one group site at Perch Pond.

     Deschene said, “We have installed three vault toilets at the most popular campsites.  Five Adirondack shelters have been newly built.  Several picnic table shelters have been added to the most popular campsites….  A new parking lot was constructed for Deboullie Mountain hikers at the Deboullie Pond campsite area.”  The many upgrades are sure to attract visitors of all ages to this beautiful region. For those who don’t want to rough it on a primitive campsite, Deboullie also offers another option: Red River Camps.    

     Jen Brophy is a second-generation owner of Red River Camps.  She said, “Deboullie has something for every member of the family….  Visitors to Deboullie range from the very young (Red River’s youngest guest was only three weeks old!) to the elderly.  It is certainly friendly for the entire family, and its remote location enables family bonding that’s hard to come by in other places.”

     Red River Camps sits on the banks of Island Pond. It has been in the Brophy family since 1980.  Built in 1886, it was originally a private family compound. The owners sold in 1926 and it has been commercial ever since. They have nine cabins that sleep from two to eight people.  They offer two separate lodging plans: the American plan or the Housekeeping plan.

     Brophy said, “Our American-plan guests enjoy a made-to-order breakfast, made-to-order packed lunch and family style dinner.  Our Housekeeping cabins include a full kitchenette with a fridge, stove/oven, sink, dishes, etc.  All of our cabins include linens and towels, and each cabin has its own bathroom with a shower, sink and toilet.  As strange as it sounds, we also offer the amenity of being able to get away from your phone and other technology: we don’t have cell reception, Wi-Fi or television.  It’s most people’s favorite part of their stay.”

     There are six American-plan and two Housekeeping-plan cabins on the main land.  The last cabin sits on its own private island on the other side of the pond.  This cabin offers a unique camp experience. Though it is separate from the others, you are still a stone’s throw from the main lodge.

     The entire Deboullie region is pet friendly. Pets must be on a leash and cleaned up after.  Brophy said, “We don’t charge an extra fee for pets and only ask that owners accept responsibility of cleaning up behind them, making sure they get along with other guests and pets that may be in camp at the same time, and not letting them sleep on the beds. (If a guest knows that his or her dog sleeps on the bed, we can give them a pet-hair-friendly bed cover.)  We’ve even had a few cats as guests at camp!”

     With pristine glacial ponds and stunning mountain regions, it is clear why Deboullie is one of the most popular destinations in the North Maine Woods. Whether you are looking for that perfect fishing hole, hiking trail or camping adventure: Deboullie has a bit of something for everyone.