BikeMaine 2017: Pathway to the Peaks

2017 Route Information

2017 BikeMaine Route Map

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Scroll to the day’s route description for GPX file links


Skowhegan, the Abenaki word meaning “watching place [for fish],” was named because of the abundance of salmon that once swam up the falls on the Kennebec River. The Kennebec has always been Skowhegan’s lifeblood and was a primary reason this particular site was chosen when the first permanent European settlement in the area was established in 1771. In 1818, the Somerset Central Agricultural Society formed to organize a fair to improve the breeding of horses and cattle. The Skowhegan State Fair has been held annually since that time, making it the oldest continuous state fair in the United States.

Skowhegan continues to be an agricultural hub and is home to a year-round farmers’ market, organic grain purveyor Maine Grains, the nationally recognized annual Kneading Conference and Artisan Bread Fair, two craft breweries, and restaurants that serve local harvest. The town is nationally known as the home of Margaret Chase Smith, the first woman U.S. Senator. Downtown Skowhegan is watched over by the world’s tallest Native American, a 62-foot wooden sculpture crafted by Bernard Langlais and “dedicated to the Maine Indians, the first people to use these lands in peaceful ways.” 

Skowhegan to Pittsfield Route Description

“And they’re off!” The BikeMaine 2017 route begins along the Kennebec River, following it out of Skowhegan, then travels along backcountry roads to Canaan, Burnham, and Unity. After circling Unity Pond, the route traces Beaver Brook north, crosses the Sebasticook River, and takes riders into Pittsfield to the BikeMaine Village in tranquil Manson Park.

Mileage: 57 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,198 feet

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The town of Pittsfield was known as Plymouth Gore, Sebasticook Plantation, and Warsaw, before being named after William Pitts of Boston in 1824. The rich land provided ample opportunities for hunting, fishing, trapping and growing crops. The arrival of the railroad in 1855 spurred the town’s growth as a manufacturing center. The first woolen mill in Pittsfield opened in 1869, and at one time Pittsfield had the largest woolen mill in the state.

Pittsfield is home to Maine Central Institute, a well-known, private secondary school serving as the town’s high school, which houses the nationally known Bossov Ballet Theater. Each July, Pittsfield hosts the Central Maine Egg Festival, featuring one of the largest frying pans in the world.

Pittsfield to Kingfield Route Description

“High Peaks ahead”- The route traverses Maine’s heartland, with its rolling hills and rich farmland. In Solon, the route crosses the Kennebec River near Caratunk Falls, where the Continental Army, led by Benedict Arnold, passed in 1775 on its way to attack Quebec City in support of the American Revolutionary War. Later in the day, the route climbs into the foothills of the High Peaks; earning riders the visual reward of the magnificent 4,000 footers along the horizon, before descending into Kingfield to the evening stop at Mountain Village Farm.

Mileage: 56 miles

Elevation Gain: 3,293 feet

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Kingfield is at the southern terminus of the Maine High Peaks Scenic Byway, and is the gateway to the High Peaks region, home to 10 of Maine’s 4,000-foot mountains. Kingfield’s proximity to the Carrabassett River with its dependable waterpower enabled the town to become a mill town centered on the wood products industry and manufacturing.

Kingfield has 4 manufacturing factories, including a Nestlé Waters Poland Spring Bottling Plant, and over 80 businesses, restaurants, and shops. Kingfield is home to the Ski Museum of Maine and the Stanley Museum, which pays homage to hometown notables, the Stanley Brothers, famous for their invention of the ruggedly durable Stanley Steamer engine and automobiles. The Kingfield Art Walk takes place on the first Friday of September through the first Friday of April. It is one of the only winter art walks of its kind and boasts a variety of exhibits, mediums and food samplings. A horse-drawn carriage transports attendees to each destination, highlighting the charm and history of each venue.

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Kingfield to Rangeley Route Description

Threading the needle” Today’s route circles Maine’s High Peaks, paralleling the Carrabassett River through Carrabassett Valley, home to Maine’s third tallest peak, Sugarloaf Mountain, then climbs to the top of Bigelow pass, crossing the Appalachian Trail between Crocker Mountain and the Bigelow Range. North of Stratton, the route provides beautiful views of both the North and South branches of the Dead River as they flow into Flagstaff Lake. The route reverses in Eustis, but not until riders have a chance to cycle by the stately old growth Red Pine forest at Cathedral Pines. Heading south, the route turns west, along “Moose Alley” through Langtown Mill, into Rangeley, ending along the shores of Rangeley Lake.

Mileage: 54 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,265 feet

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Rangeley is at the center of the Rangeley Lakes Region, a resort area that includes the villages of Oquossoc, Haines Landing and South Rangeley. Five different Native American tribes, who had the land exclusively to themselves until 1810, initially inhabited the area.

The town was named after James Rangeley, Jr., who inherited the land from his father and moved to the region in 1825. The town was a small but thriving farm community with a developing trade in lumber, when townsmen began catching brook trout weighing more than 8 pounds at the confluence of the Rangeley and Kennebago Rivers. News quickly spread, and sport fishermen from Rhode Island and New York City began traveling to Rangeley to try their luck.  Soon anglers and their families were coming from throughout the United States and beyond to fish, hunt and recreate in the region. Rangeley has become an “Outdoor Mecca” for the multitudes looking to escape America’s summertime urban areas.

Rangeley to Hartford Route Description

“From peaks to ponds” Today’s route is the longest of the week, taking riders south along the Rangeley Lakes Scenic Byway to picturesque Small Falls, once again crossing the Appalachian Trail, followed by a multi-mile gentle descent out of the High Peaks. From Phillips, the route heads towards Weld, where it circles the west side of Webb Pond and passes by Mount Blue State Park. The route flattens out through Carthage and Dixfield and along the Androscoggin River, then climbs around Worthley Pond into Hartford, to Camp Wekeela, an impressive summer camp on Little Bear Pond.

Mileage:  65 miles

Elevation Gain: 3,394 feet

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Camp night is back! Located in the small rural town of Hartford is Camp Wekeela, a private summer camp on Little Bear Pond, where BikeMaine will spend the night. First started as a girl’s camp in 1922, Camp Wekeela has become one of the finest coed traditional summer camps for children and teens in the country.

Hartford to Farmington Route Description

“Rolling on the river” Upon leaving Camp Wekeela, the route circles Bear Pond and heads south to Turner Center, where it passes Androscoggin Riverlands State Park and crosses the Androscoggin River. In West Leeds, the route follows River Road for several miles before veering east. After going through Twelve Corners, the route passes Mosher Pond, Norcross Pond and the Chesterville Esker. It then cuts across Chesterville and North Chesterville and into Farmington, ending at Prescott Field.

Mileage: 51 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,571 feet

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Farmington has long been a regional center for manufacturing, trade and agriculture. The land proved to be ideally suited for faming and agriculture, and the plantation was incorporated as the town of Farmington in 1794. The town’s dependable waterpower attracted industry and Farmington became one of the largest wool producing towns in New England. Two railroads connected Farmington to the outside world, carrying freight and tourists to and from the town. Farmington suffered a devastating fire in 1886, when 33 houses, 19 stores, 3 churches, the county jail and the post office were destroyed, but its infrastructure and businesses allowed it to rebuild and recover. Today Farmington is a college town, home to the University of Maine Farmington.

Farmington to Skowhegan Route Description

“Following the Kennebec home”The last morning of BikeMaine 2017 begins with a series of climbs to the town of Industry, followed by welcome descents into Anson. The route cuts north to the Carrabassett River and the spectacular North Anson Gorge, then into Embden and across the Kennebec River to Solon. The route follows the Kennebec River south for several miles, before turning east towards Skowhegan, ending at the Skowhegan Fairgrounds where a farewell luncheon awaits.

Mileage: 52 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,711 feet

Click here for GPX file and Ride With GPS map 

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