Fort Kent + Eagle Lake in 48 Hours

Some of Maine’s northernmost towns, Fort Kent and Eagle Lake offer quiet explorations steeped in history and tradition

Scenic overlooks and settling in

From most of Maine, the drive to Eagle Lake and Fort Kent is long but picturesque, filled with winding country roads and endless miles of pine forests. If you’re traveling from the southern half of the state, be sure to give yourself a break at the Mount Katahdin Scenic Overlook rest stop off I-95 in Medway. On a clear day, you can see Mount Katahdin’s peak high behind Salmon Stream Lake. Picnic tables allow for a lunch or snack break, but keep in mind: it’s best to get an early start on this trip because it’s much harder to see moose or deer in the roadway at night.

For lodging in the area, try Fish River Lodge or Eagle Lake Sporting Camps, which both rent waterfront cabins. After settling into your home for the weekend, head to Lake Road Grocery in Fort Kent to stock up on groceries, gas, and any sporting or fishing gear you may need for the weekend.

Easy outdoor adventures and historic sites

For the perfect morning adventure, start your day at the Fort Kent Municipal Airport. The remote airstrip is active with small chartered and private planes, and just beyond the grassy runway is the Fish River Falls Trail. The easy, less-than-a-mile walk through the forest leads to a rocky shore with a series of waterfalls fragmenting the river. Plus, the trail is pet-friendly, so bring your favorite four-legged friend along for the hike. As you make your way back to the airport, be sure to cross the runway quickly.

A stop at the Fort Kent Outdoor Center is a necessity for any nature buffs. The community-managed recreation center offers outdoor trail-based activities all year round, with miles of groomed snowshoe and mountain biking trails recently added. Originally founded as a training center in 1999 for Nordic and biathlon athletes, the Outdoor Center now hosts national and international Nordic and biathlon events in the winter. For those that have visited the center and need even more places to explore, the Fort Kent Chamber of Commerce is a great resource for additional area trails and hiking.

While you’re still in Fort Kent, don’t forget to visit America’s First Mile. A carved granite sign runs parallel to the U.S.-Canadian border and marks the beginning of U.S. Route 1. Snap some photos at the historic monument before running across the street to grab a bite to eat at Rock’s Family Diner, which serves homemade whoopie pies with a side of local hospitality. From the dining room windows, you can watch the international bridge connecting the U.S. and Canada.

A short walk from Rock’s Family Diner is the Fort Kent Blockhouse at the Fort Kent State Historic Site, located at the convergence of the Saint John and Fish Rivers. The blockhouse is the only remaining structure from the bloodless Aroostook War (sometimes called the Pork and Beans War), which took place in 1838–1839 after a border dispute between Great Britain and the U.S. If you’re visiting between May and September, take a tour of the building before heading back to Eagle Lake.

During July through October, Eagle Lake Sporting Camps’ historic Roosevelt Dining Room and Rough Rider lounge are open to the public. A reservation is required to eat in the log dining room, where the sporting camp has been serving up memorable meals for more than 100 years. If you’re staying here, enjoy a nightcap after a day well spent.

Festivals and family recipes

Get an early Sunday morning start and head to Bouchard Family Farms to pick up a bag (or several bags) of ployes mix. For those who aren’t aware of this Acadian specialty, ployes are a type of buckwheat flour pancake that is best described as something in between a crepe and a traditional pancake. If you’re visiting the area in August, try to make it to the annual Ploye Festival that’s hosted in conjunction with the Fort Kent International Muskie Derby. Before getting in the car to head back home, make one final stop at Corriveau’s Hilltop Blossoms for a fresh bouquet of flowers to commemorate the weekend up north.

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