Rangeley Lakes in 48 Hours

The Rangeley Lakes region is known as one of America’s premiere outdoor sporting destinations—and offers an abundance of community and culture to discover as well.

The vista at the Height of Land on the Rangeley Lakes National Scenic Byway.
The vista at the Height of Land on the Rangeley Lakes National Scenic Byway.


Lofty landscapes

The Rangeley Lakes National Scenic Byway more than lives up to its name when you reach The Height of Land. This roadside destination perched on Route 17 provides panoramic views of the surrounding lakes and the White Mountains. It’s also a common spot to encounter hikers tackling the Appalachian Trail, which crosses the road there.

The region has a variety of waterside camping and cottage rental options, making it a popular place to go “upta camp.” There are also more traditional lodging businesses, such as the historic Rangeley Inn, which has been offering access to the heart of the region and comfortable accommodations since the turn of the century.

Start your visit to Rangeley by taking in views of its namesake lake. Then, just a short drive from the town’s main drag, you’ll find The Shed, a classic barbecue joint in a rustic setting. Grab a seat outside and enjoy the water views while you work on a cocktail and a barbecue platter.

It’s worth the hike to Cascade Falls, Rangeley lakes
It’s worth the hike to Cascade Falls.


The sporting outdoors

Start the day at Oquossoc Grocery, a favorite hub for visitors and locals on the east side of Rangeley Lake. Grab a coffee and enjoy a breakfast sandwich before a day of exploring. Need to stock up on snacks for your hike, or craft beer to bring back to camp? Nearby, The Farmer’s Daughter marketplace offers local produce and cheeses, baked goods, and a variety of prepared foods.

Just south of Rangeley on Route 4 you can find the Cascade Stream Gorge Trail. This short hike rewards you with impressive views of chutes and waterfalls that corkscrew dramatically into the gorge below. Pack a lunch for a picnic at the midway point of this one-mile loop—or water shoes and a towel, if you’re in the mood for cooling off in a mountain stream. For impressive views without the legwork, drive to the top of Quill Hill. A winding, four-mile dirt road brings you to the nearly 3,000-foot summit, where you can take in 360-degree views of the region. Just below the summit you’ll find a picnic area complete with a wood-fired grill for public use.

Before heading back into Rangeley, take a quick detour to the town of Langtown Mill to visit Bigelow Fields, a bison farm and bakery. Enjoy the dreamy landscape of the scenic ranch, scope out the grazing bison, and leave with some choice cuts of meat or freshly baked sourdough from the roadside hutch.

For lunch in downtown Rangeley, The Furbish Brew House and Eats offers views of the lake from an outdoor patio and a menu of wood-fired pizza and brewpub staples. Sample the house beers, and enjoy a pulled pork pizza with blueberry barbecue sauce. After lunch, swing by Pine Tree Frosty for an ice cream cone to enjoy while you relax on the shore of Haley Pond. Across the street you’ll find a public park with a playground, tennis and basketball courts, a boat launch, and swimming docks.

While downtown take some time to stop in the local shops. Books, Lines, and Thinkers has been a Main Street staple for 25 years. Part bookstore, part art gallery, it has something for everyone. Be sure to dig through the back room of discount books, where the real treasures can be found. The Alpine Shop of Rangeley offers regional souvenirs and outdoor apparel as well as a variety of gifts. Ecopelagicon, A Nature Store rents out kayaks, canoes, and paddle-boards by the day or half-day, and stocks a well-curated selection of outdoor gear, books, and local products.

To learn about the rich sporting history of the region, visit the Maine Outdoor Heritage Museum in Oquossoc. The museum displays a variety of artifacts of the sporting industry and showcases Maine’s history as a place where city slickers and U.S. presidents alike have escaped to Vacationland to experience its abundant natural resources.

Stay in the village of Oquossoc for dinner at Portage Tap House, which combines the vibes of a classic fishing lodge with the offerings of a modern bistro. Canoes hang from the ceiling in the bustling main dining room, and a wood-fired oven is the central feature of the open kitchen. Grab a seat at the bar, strike up a conversation, and try a skillet of baked feta. Entrees include wood-fired pizza and classic American fare.


Brook trout and brunch

For the most authentic Rangeley experience, try your hand at fly-fishing. Stock up on gear and get some fishing tips from locals at the Rangeley Region Sport Shop. Rangeley Lake, Rangeley River, Rapid River, and Cupsuptic River are all known for prized brook trout and landlocked salmon and offer some of the most legendary fly-fishing in America. For your best chance at landing a fish, wake up early and get on the water at first light. Alternatively, a sunset bite can be equally exciting.

Hang up the fly-rod and head back into town for brunch at Classic Provisions. Treat yourself to homemade pastries, a fresh cup of coffee, and a gourmet breakfast sandwich. After brunch, head across the street to Sarge’s Sports Pub and Grub and enjoy a deluxe Bloody Mary on the deck.

On your way out of town, complete your trip with a stop at Coos Canyon in Byron. There’s parking at a rest area, along with a popular camping spot, Coos Canyon Campground and Cabins, just off Route 17. The Swift River rushes through the canyon and has created unique geological patterns in the riverbed over the years. You can wade into the water near the picnic area or follow the river downstream for deeper swimming holes, depending on how long you want to extend your weekend trip in the Rangeley region.

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