Are you looking for moose? I’ve been going back and forth through, around and in the state of Maine for almost 20 years now and I’m pretty convinced that moose are more of a mythical creature, like a unicorn, than an actual animal.
Nevertheless, I still have a goal of seeing and photographing a moose someday. I have, however, found an excellent place to continue my moose-sighting quest — The Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge in Baring, Maine.
About the refuge (as taken from their website):
Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge consists of nearly 30,000 acres of federally protected lands in eastern Maine. The refuge’s landscape is varied, with rolling hills, large ledge outcrops, streams, lakes, bogs, and marshes. A northern hardwood forest of aspen, maple, birch, spruce and fir dominates the upland. Scattered stands of majestic white pine are common. The Edmunds Division boasts several miles of rocky shoreline where tidal fluctuations of up to 24 feet occur twice a day.
This habitat diversity supports many wildlife species. The staff at Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) manages the land to protect the Service’s “”trust resources””. which include migratory birds, endangered species, and wetlands. By improving habitat, the Service ensures that wildlife will thrive on the refuge.
Woodcock, ruffed grouse, moose, deer, and a variety of songbirds prosper only in a young forest. In the past, wildfires revitalized the forest, while farming maintained open areas. However, wildfire is a rare event today, and farmland acreage has decreased dramatically. Habitat management programs, including timber harvesting and controlled burning, mimic the effects of wildfire and farming by providing clearings and early growth forests.
Approximately one third of the refuge is designated as federal wilderness. The two Wilderness Areas (one in each division) are part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. They are managed with a “hands-off” philosophy and granted special protection to maintain their primitive qualities. Internal combustion engines and mechanical means of transportation (i.e. bicycles) are not allowed. Habitat management is kept to a minimum to allow the areas to develop into old- growth climax forests.
Bald eagles, frequent both divisions of the refuge, feeding on fish in the streams, ponds, and flowages. In recent years, as many as three pairs of eagles have nested at Moosehorn NWR. Eagles are frequently sighted around Magurrewock Marsh on the Baring Division and along the shore of Dennys Bay on the Edmunds Division. Osprey nest in several of the refuge marshes with as many as four pairs using platforms along the Charlotte Road.
The woodlands of Moosehorn NWR are home to many songbirds, including neotropical migrants, species that breed in North America and winter in Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. In mid-May, migrating warblers fills the forest with song. Twenty-six species of these diminutive birds nest on the refuge. In addition, northern forest species, such as boreal chickadees and spruce grouse, are present.
Moosehorn NWR has a mobile phone App that allows people to digitally explore the refuge. The App contains information about the refuge trails, Auto Tour Route, wilderness areas and other refuge related programs. The App can be found at Moosehorn.toursphere.com.
Besides hiking, there are several visitor options at the refuge including interpretation programs and wildlife education programs. There are programs and activities that educate visitors to things like invasive species and birding and they host the following annual events:
Downeast Bird Festival (Memorial Day Weekend)
Children’s fishing derby (June)
Warbler and amphibian walks
Two trails – the Woodcock and Charlotte trails are wheelchair-accessible.
More info on planning your visit can be found here.
Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge is located off Route 1 southwest of Calais, ME. It can be reached by taking Route 1 North from coastal Maine, Route 1 South from northern Maine, or Route 9 east from the Bangor area. Watch for the Refuge Office sign along Route 1
The Woodcock Trail
¼ mile paved, wheelchair accessible trail introduces walkers to the American woodcock. In April and May, the trail is a great place to view its spectacular courtship flights, for which it is famous.
The Habitat Trail
1¼ mile wooded trail stresses how important proper habitat is for wildlife. Markers point out signs of wildlife that might otherwise be missed.
The Bird Walk
¼ mile trail through forests rich in birds. Over 220 species have been identified on the refuge, including 26 species of warblers alone.
50 Miles of Dirt Roads
Refuge roads are closed to private vehicles. This makes them ideal for hiking and biking in the summer, snowshoeing and skiing during the winter. The roads allow access to almost all parts of the refuge, passing through the habitats of all kinds of wildlife. Maps are available at the office.
The Wilderness Area
Many people enjoy the solitude of walking through the wilderness area, where nothing mechanical is allowed. Trails through the wilderness areas of both divisions receive minimal maintenance. We strongly recommend hikers bring a topographical map and compass.
Fall Auto Route
Get out and enjoy nature in all of her colorful fall finery at Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge! From October 1st to the 27th, a 3.3 mile route will be open to private vehicles at Moosehorn Refuge. Traverse a variety of wildlife habitats including blueberry fields, forests and wetlands and observe waterfowl, wading and songbirds and maybe even a moose or black bear! The auto tour route will begin at the Headquarters Road gate. Call (207) 454-7161 for more information.