Bangor is a city in the state of Maine that, unless you know its hidden secrets, if you were on a road trip you'd probably consider driving straight through. That would be a mistake as you'd be missing out big time. If you live there then you'll already be familiar with the city's interesting architecture displayed in the many examples of Victorian mansions that date back to the early nineteenth century - the home of horror author Stephen King being one of them. You will, no doubt, have snapped a few photos of you standing next to the giant-sized statue of the lumberjacking folk legend Paul Bunyan too.
Anyone residing in Bangor will have made good use of the fantastic recreational areas in and around the city. There is definitely no shortage of places to get outside in this Maine city. The Bangor City Forest and the Walden-Parke Nature Preserve border the outer suburbs to the north, the Penobscot River runs past the city boundaries to the south and Pushaw Lake is just a short drive away as are the Perch Pond Recreation Trails. Bangor is a city that knows how to host events too. With the Bangor State Fair taking place at the end of July and the American Folk Festival in August, summer in Bangor can be hot and sticky, but entertaining.
If you've seen what Bangor has to offer and have done it all, then set your friends a sporting challenge and take them on a weekend road trip from Bangor to Alexandria Bay in New York. It doesn't matter what time of the year you go as most of the places below are open for and offer both summer and winter activities.
Start out by heading south out of Bangor in the direction of Portsmouth from where you can change tack away from the coastal scenery of the Gulf of Maine to head inland through the White Mountain and Green Mountain National Forests. On the way, depending on the month you choose to go, you can go kayaking, off-roading, hiking wilderness trails, or cross country skiing and snowmobiling. You'll have such a good time, you and your friends will wish the weekend could be a month long.
After four hours of solid driving on your weekend road trip from Bangor to Alexandria Bay, you'll have arrived in the state of New Hampshire. Leave the I 89 at junction 5 and take the NH 114 northbound. After twenty miles, you'll pass through Newbury and arrive at the southern shores of Lake Sunapee. Lake Sunapee is a four-thousand-acre lake overlooked by the towering peak of Mount Sunapee. There is a campground in Mount Sunapee State Park which is located around five miles from Newbury on the western shoreline.
Over eight miles long, the serpentine stretch of water is dotted with numerous islands and is ideal for exploring by kayak, canoe, or paddleboard. If you're traveling with a partner rather than friends, you'll want to take the romantic sunset cruise over the lake on the MV MT Sunapee. There's a beach and swimming areas for taking a dip when it's warm, and an extensive network of trails to hike including the seventy-five-mile-long Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway.
At the Mount Sunapee Resort, you can go mountain biking, quad biking, ziplining down the mountainside, or test your skills at archery or disc golf. In winter, the resort opens for downhill skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and sledding.
As you continue on your road trip from Bangor to Alexandria Bay, you'll cross over the Lake Champlain Bridge as you motor from Vermont into the state of New York. Keep driving a while longer and you'll notice the change of scenery as you enter into a landscape dominated by remote mountain peaks. Pass through the city of Elizabethtown on High Street and just after you leave the urbanization behind, you'll come across a fantastic spot to pull up and go outback hiking.
The Blueberry Hills Trail System contains over thirty different multi-use trails for hiking, horse riding, and mountain biking. Many of the trails interconnect and so can become confusing. Download a trail map or pick one up from the trailhead located on Lord Road before you set out. Some of the trails are also suitable for small ATVs but make sure you're heading out on the right one before going. If you enjoy outback hiking and want to do some more, you'll find the Giant Mountain Wilderness to the south, the Jay Mountain Wilderness, and the Sentinel Range Wilderness are all in close proximity.
The Mount Van Hoevenberg Recreation Area is a few miles further west from Elizabethtown and is a fantastic place to enjoy all kinds of outdoor sport twelve months of the year. Located on the north-eastern edge of the High Peaks Wilderness, it's remote but accessible although there are no camping facilities there. If you decide to stay over and want to pitch up nearby, the Saranac Lake Islands Campground is only a short drive away and has over eighty campsites for RVs.
At the Mount Van Hoevenberg Recreation Area in the warmer times of the year, you can head out on a mountain bike to explore the trails and if you've not tried it before, you can take a short, one hour course there that will soon have you peddling with confidence. If you know what you're doing but don't have a bike, you can rent one there too.
There are some great hikes in the recreation area too that will see you climbing up to the summits of the peaks from where the views are just incredible. If you're fit and want to take your sporting activity one step further you can participate in a course that will show you how to compete as a biathlete. You'll be mountain biking, running, and then shooting at targets with a rifle while you're still trying to get your breath back.
Winter activities at the Mount Van Hoevenberg Recreation Area are snow-related so expect to be snowshoeing, cross country skiing or go the whole hog and try the biathlon winter instruction course with skiing before shooting instead of the summertime mountain biking. It's all challenging, but great fun.
If you and the buddies who have been traveling with you on your weekend road trip from Bangor to Alexandria Bay arrive with aching muscles, don't be surprised. But no worries, as once you're there you'll be able to relax in one of the most scenic locations in the state of New York.
While Alexandria Bay itself is a small village that covers only one and a half square miles, what it lacks in size it makes up for by being somewhere there is almost two-thousand islands. Situated on an inlet of the St Lawrence River where it flows into the vast expanse of Lake Ontario, it's the perfect place to board a boat, sit back and relax for a while before starting to contemplate your next weekend road trip adventure.