Out and about with the Oregon Trail: travelling the Oregon Trail

We spend our days tracing the stunning and rugged Oregon Trail in Maine’s forests. Photograph: Holly Grinnell

The journey, by land and by sea, starts in Portland, Oregon’s capital, where we spend the first night in a super-posh hotel suite. Then it’s on to Long Beach, a small town 40 miles south of Portland, where we have a celebratory dinner at Pullman restaurant and an antiquing spree on the “Locally Grown” hanger in the old Dumpster.

After a week spent exploring Portland – which has never been on my agenda until now – it’s time to head out into the wilderness. Armed with a sharp compass and plenty of markers, we head south from Long Beach to Woodstock, where we descend over a narrow river on a raft. We then run into our first climb of the trip, through Millinocket and down a winding road into Wells, Maine’s oldest town and a famous salmon destination.

Low country surf near Woodstock

The snow-capped mountains are breathtaking and we just pop out of the car to take in views of the ocean and a campground where we snorkel with the Nor’westers on the main beach. Looking north up the coast we see glaciers and mist as we ride across the soft snow into Manahawkin, New Jersey, and then fly over the wilderness. The clear blue water reminds me of white beaches in Florida. Back at the campground, at the most remote end of Maine, we pull out the kayaks, purchase our local beers and head down to the water to enjoy the ride.

Maine’s limited hydroelectric power gives us our first taste of our new, clean environment, which is so pretty and tranquil it’s hard to believe where we are. To celebrate our water activities we explore a stunning, curved bay along a rocky shore that helps direct wave energy, making it a good launching point for that famous kayak manoeuvre known as a “choppy roll”. Having discovered it, I jump on board and explore the rocky shoreline at the prow of the bay. Not far away, the tiny fishing village of Calais, in Maine’s North Woods, is great for hiking or canoeing.

Pack a picnic of crusty lobster rolls and Dungeness crab, and make your way back to Portland. Travel has never been easier and nicer – keep at home and do it with friends and family

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