The 200+ mile Franklin County walk begins on the Whistle Stop Trail, at the County Line in Jay. (Photo by Doug Dunlap Copyright 2017)
Outdoorsman Doug Dunlap is on another venture to emphasize the beauty and outdoor opportunity of Franklin County by hiking more than 200 miles of its woods, trails and towns.
Beginning in Jay on the 15.7 mile Whistle Stop Trail, Dunlap walked through Wilton and Farmington, continuing on to check New Vineyard, Strong, Freeman, Kingfield, Carrabassett Valley off his list before climbing over the South and North Horns of Bigelow Mountain and landing in Stratton-Eustis.
From there, Dunlap walked on to Coburn Gore where he crossed the United States border to visit Farmington’s sister town, Lac Megantic, Quebec. There he presented the town’s mayor Jean-Guy Cloutier with a letter of good will and a gift from the Farmington Board of Selectmen. The gift was a small watercolor painting of downtown Farmington, which Dunlap carried in his backpack.
From the border Dunlap made his way back down the length of the county, including a paddle across the Chain of Ponds. From Oquossoc Dunlap paddled a kayak across the length of Rangeley Lake to the town’s landing. Along with the addition of water travel, Dunlap included an ascent up Saddleback Mountain and Mt. Blue.
Doug Dunlap reaches Lac Megantic Quebec on his 200+ mile hike. (All photos by Doug Dunlap Copyright 2017)
His hike included trails such as the Whistle Stop, Maine Huts and Trails system, the trails of Bigelow Preserve, the Appalachian Trail, The Arnold Trail, the Longfellow Heritage Trail, Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust trails and the Fly Rod Crosby Trail.
“I have hiked snomobile and ATV trails, done a bit of road walk, and bushwhacked where no other route was available,” Dunlap said. “Why? Because Franklin County has some of the most striking natural terrain to be found anywhere in the nation, with outstanding trail systems and a largely pristine landscape. Our high peaks and expansive lakes are uncrowded, and readily accessed by those looking for an authentic outdoor experience.”
Dunlap was expecting to have finished the hike a few days ago, coming down through Phillips over to Weld and then back to his home of Farmington.
“Our family has made this part of Maine home for nearly 40 years. After hiking long-distance trails such as the Appalachian Trail, John Muir Trail in California, and the Long Trail in Vermont, among others, I decided to give Franklin County its due,” he said.