In the shoulder season between skiing and more serious summer hiking, I always find myself looking to books about the outdoors. Admittedly, some of this impulse is vocational – I co-own an independent bookstore in Portland, and digging into new and exciting books about the Maine outdoors is part of how I do my job. However, it’s also a personal desire, to absorb different views and stories about Maine’s woods and waters. Every summer, new guides come out, seeding ideas for future adventures. There are also great memoirs, history books, and stories that inspire not only travel, but new ideas about how to experience the outdoors (and, if I’m lucky, provide some better writing for this column via osmosis).

Find here a look at a few recent books on Maine’s outdoors. From guidebooks covering regions well-trod and deserted, to tragedy, to adventurous and contemplative biography, these books will prepare you for the other side of mud season.

Falcon Guides has just published the fourth edition of “Best Easy Day Hikes Acadia National Park,” by Dolores Kong and Dan Ring. The fully updated guidebook has mile-by-mile directions for trails throughout Acadia, from short day hikes along the Ocean Path to longer routes winding through the park. A handy trail finder allows for sorting trails by best hikes for views, dogs and ocean lovers, and the title includes a number of family-friendly hikes. For a few dollars more, a bundled edition of the guide includes handy trail maps.

Hope Rowan and Jada Finch’s “Ten Days in the North Woods” is the rare guidebook that doesn’t just offer guidance for exploring with kids, but is written with young folks as the intended audience. Following up 2017’s “Ten Days in Acadia” (from the same authors) , the new book tracks a young girl and her family’s exploration of the North Woods including Baxter, the new Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, and the Debsconeag Lakes Wilderness Area. Maps, hiking tips, and field notes speak directly to the books’ intended audience, while information on lodging and travel is included for parents’ benefit.

University of Massachusetts Press

In the summer of 2014, a cadre of folks – scholars, indigenous peoples, activists and others – retraced Henry David Thoreau’s 1857 journey through the Maine woods (which he famously chronicled in … “The Maine Woods”). One product of their journey is “Rediscovering the Maine Woods: Thoreau’s Legacy in an Unsettled Land,” edited by John J Kucich. This collection of essays digs into what Thoreau’s writing and legacy means for the region (for good and for ill), through the lenses of conservation, geography, culture and perhaps more importantly the perspectives of native peoples. It’s a bit academic – expect essay titles with like “The Maine Woods Rhomboids” and “Eating Moose: Thoreau, Regional Cuisine and National Identity” – but still quite readable and engaging.

Down East Books

“When You Find My Body,” by Bradley author D. Dauphinee, tells the story of Geraldine Largay’s tragedy on the Appalachian Trail in 2013. Her disappearance in western Maine inspired a years-long search, conducted by volunteers, family, the navy and the Maine Warden Service – the largest lost-person search in the state’s history. Dauphinee, one of the volunteers who searched for Largay, recounts the hiker’s journey, disappearance and the eventual discovery of her body. His writing ties the hiker’s story in with larger examinations of the search and rescue community, grief, death, and a life lived outdoors.

In June, the paperback of Porter Fox’s stunning “Northland” will be published; a portable edition that’s perfect to stash in your backpack. Fox wrote the book after spending three years traveling the 4,000-mile northern U.S. border, from Maine to California. Fox traveled by canoe, motorcycle, sloop, freighter and other mechanized and human-powered transit, and he looks deeply at the United State’s less-publicized border. The journey starts in Fox’s native Maine, with Lubec and Passamaquoddy Bay (among others) getting some page time.

Down East Books

Also in June, Down East Books will release Rich Bard’s “Beyond Acadia.” The title looks at destinations on the Maine coast to the east of Ellsworth, Winter Harbor and MDI – quite literally, the areas beyond Acadia. We’ve spent considerable ink in this column over the years proselytizing about the Bold Coast, and it’s a delight to see a book that offers some guidance to the region.

Islandport Press

And, though it’s not out until the seasons start to change once more, Matt Weber’s “Making Tracks” warrants mention. Former Sugarloaf snowmaker, commercial fisherman and craft brewer Weber has filled the need for a Maine snowmobiling guidebook, something he simply couldn’t find in the current market. Published by Yarmouth’s Islandport Press, the book explores snowmobiling in four Maine regions – Jackman, the Western Mountains, Eastern Maine and The County – with a mix of stories and mishaps alongside practical guidebook information and advice.

Josh Christie is a freelance writer living in Portland. Along with his brother, Jake, he writes about great Maine destinations for outdoors enthusiasts. Josh can be reached at:

[email protected]


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