Calling the Old Canada Road (Route 201) a scenic byway does a small injustice to this 78-mile drive between Solon and Sandy Bay Township along the Canadian border. It’s not just scenic (think moose) but also grandly historic.
Benedict Arnold led troops through this wilderness on his spectacularly ill-fated mission to sack Quebec in 1775. A more lasting trail was blazed in the 19th century by Maine farmers who discovered a better market for livestock and produce in Canada than on their own coast.
The trip north today remains an excursion from the pastoral into the pine forests. You start out flanked by rolling farmland, then climb steadily into commercial timberland, the lair of moose. Logging trucks soon share the winding road with old school buses that ferry white-water enthusiasts to some of the most popular rafting in the East. Head with Raft Maine to The Forks (named after a river juncture) to get splendidly soaked on the Kennebec or Dead Rivers.
One don’t-miss detour from The Forks is the hike to 90-foot Moxie Falls, one of Maine’s highest cascades. It’s just over a mile from the trailhead, which is two miles east of the river on Lake Moxie Road.
Continue your drive past Parlin Pond and the Appalachian Trail to the unvarnished town of Jackman (“Last Gas in the United States”), one of Maine’s famed fishing, hunting, and snowmobiling outposts. Just south of town is Attean Lake, where you can find the landing phone to call for a shuttle to the Attean Lake Lodge, a family-friendly resort on a densely forested island.