Mainers explore woods and waters during weekend-long celebration

Posted Oct. 02, 2013, at 5:46 a.m.

Outdoor activities planned throughout the state lured thousands of Mainers outside to enjoy the sun and crisp fall air Sept. 27-29 during the fourth Great Maine Outdoor Weekend, organized by the Maine Outdoor Coalition. More than 100 events were planned by various organizations and businesses, from paddling trips to mushroom foraging to stargazing.

As a part of the weekend-long celebration, Maine Wildlife Park in Gray hosted “North Woods Law Day” on Saturday, attracting 1,400 visitors to the park to meet several of the game wardens who star on the reality TV show. Fans of the show collected autographs — 8-year-old Gavin Willett of Monmouth nabbed one from warden Kristopher MacCabe — and then wandered among the park’s nature trails and exhibits of more than 30 species of native wildlife, including black bears, bobcats, lynx, eagles and moose. Nicholas Schlipstein, 9, of Corinth took the opportunity to closely examine a stuffed black bear.

Saco Valley Land Trust was one of the many organizations to host a guided nature walk on conserved lands during the weekend. In rubber boots, a dozen people attended the trust’s walk on Saturday afternoon to visit a cranberry bog and significant vernal pool (potential habitat for the endangered spotted and Blanding’s turtles) located on a conservation easement in Biddeford.

That evening, L.L.Bean and nonprofit Teens to Trails hosted the Great Maine Outdoor Film Festival, a lineup of recently produced independent outdoor films from Maine and beyond. Fittingly, the films were shown outdoors, at L.L.Bean’s Discovery Park in Freeport.

The fifth Great Maine Outdoor Weekend is scheduled for Feb. 14-16, and once again, events will be hosted statewide.