One of the best things about the long five-month hiatus from summer pursuits lasting from November through March is that it gives us plenty of time to think about and plan all the great trips we’ll take exploring Maine in the upcoming summer.

My nightstand is stacked with reading material that allows me to turn late-night reveries into solid plans, and my library is, I’m sure, just a tiny fraction of books, maps and other publications that can give you a leg up as you map out your schedule for the summer of 2014.

Herewith, however, is a sampling of some reading material I’d recommend you spend some time studying on those cold winter nights: 

MAINE MOUNTAIN GUIDE: This regularly updated Appalachian Mountain Club publication has been my bible for decades, and no hiker’s library is complete without it. Not only does it contain a complete guide to Maine’s marvelous mountains and trails, it describes in detail nearly 200 summits, from Mt. Agamenticus in the southwestern corner of the state to Debouillie Mountain in northern Aroostook, and from Mt. Aziscoos close to the New Hampshire border to Pocomoonshine Mountain near the New Brunswick border. Full-color maps are included, along with helpful trip planning and safety tips. And its handy 5-by-7-inch dimensions allow you to stuff it in your pack or even in your pocket. 

MAINE STATE FERRY SCHEDULE: A must for planning excursions to Vinalhaven, North Haven, Islesboro, Swan’s Island, Frenchboro and even Matinicus. The schedule includes rates and other important information, and can be picked up at any Maine State Ferry terminal. It’s also available at www.maine.gov/mdot/msfs/index.htm.

QUIET WATER MAINE: Now in its second edition, this Appalachian Mountain Club canoe and kayak guide focuses on those hidden treasures that have historically received far less attention than Maine’s famous rivers. Maps and directions guiding you to the peaceful solitude of out-of-the-way lakes, ponds and estuaries tell you not only how to get there but why, focusing on the special features of each of the 80 recommended excursions. 

100 CLASSIC HIKES IN NEW ENGLAND: Jeffrey Romano’s outstanding book contains vivid descriptions and maps of 11 hikes on the Maine coast and 13 in the western and northern parts of the state. The author even examines the vagaries of spring vs. summer vs. fall hikes, adding a unique seasonal component to this excellent hiking guide. 

THE BOOMER’S GUIDE TO HIKING IN MAINE: A fun read, this guide to over 70 hikes is cleverly divided into five “Boomer Ratings,” from Woodsy Rambles to Super Strenuous/Super Rewards. The book combines humor, practical advice and a frank assessment of the physical challenges one will confront (or not) on each hike. There’s even a potpourri of amusing anecdotes along with interesting Maine history. 

SEA KAYAKING ALONG THE NEW ENGLAND COAST: Included in Tamsin Venn’s updated and expanded guide are several adventurous Maine kayak trips within the 45 she recommends up and down the New England coast. Each trip description includes a detailed map, NOAA chart, map references, trip distances, caution areas, access points and other helpful information. 

MAINE OUTDOOR ADVENTURE GUIDE: Right up front, my apologies for this blatantly self-serving recommendation. Down East Books has planned a May 2014 release date of this 240-page guide, just in time for next summer. My son, Josh, and I are co-authors of this collection of recommended hiking, biking, touring, motorcycling, camping, canoeing, kayaking and fly-fishing trips. Many of the chapters have appeared in the Maine Sunday Telegram, Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel over the last three summers, as well as in Atlantic Coastal Kayaker and Maine Seniors magazines. Some pieces appear in print for the first time in this book. In its pre-publication promotion of the book, Down East Books describes it as “… unlike most guides, which focus on specific regions or specific activities, the Maine Outdoor Adventure Guide is a trip-oriented guide, with each entry focusing on a specific activity at a particular location: biking the Carriage Roads in Acadia, kayaking Merchant’s Row, climbing Bigelow Mountain or canoeing the Magalloway River. The authors’ intent is to present a series of day or weekend trips that could comprise an entire summer of exploration or be stretched out over years.”

See you next week with our first “Skiing in Maine” column for the season! 

John Christie is a former ski racer and ski area manager and owner, a ski historian and member of the Maine Ski Hall of Fame. He and his son, Josh, write columns on alternating weeks. John can be reached at: jchristie@fairpoint.net