Seth Hamlin Hitchings

On-the-water adventure in this western lakes region.

August 20, 2012

The crystal lakes and Kennebago River in western Maine’s Rangeley have been attracting anglers since the 1800s, and the place exudes small-town nostalgia. Spend your days fly-fishing for salmon and trout or kayaking on Rangeley Lake. Skip spring to avoid pesky mosquitos and black flies—instead, head here anytime June through August.

The Wilhelm Reich Museum

This sprawling western Maine museum from the trust of Wilhelm Reich, a noted psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and scientist, spans 175 acres. The woodsy, trail-lined compound includes the Orgone Energy Observatory, which dates to 1950 and houses his office, instrument-filled lab, library, and painting studio. Orgonon was the name of Reich’s home, which now hosts conferences. A bookstore and a pair of rental cottages also populate the land, as do versions of Reich’s “cloudbuster,” a system of pipes that supposedly had the power to harness orgone energy in order to disperse clouds.

The Red Onion

This red building, situated on a stretch of land between City Cove and Haley Pond, previously housed an IGA grocery store and, in 1958, even a co-ed sauna. Since 1970, when Skender and Bruni Liedl gained ownership, it has been known as a place for home style Italian food with an emphasis on pizza, from classic combinations like tomato sauce and cheese to more progressive pies like the Reuben, topped with pastrami, sauerkraut, Swiss, and 1000 Island dressing. Burgers are also popular at the Red Onion, as are sandwiches such as the Chix Parmesean, breaded chicken topped with their homemade red sauce. The ho-hum interior features square tables, simple wooden chairs, and rustic gray paneling, and during the summer months, the tables on the deck are popular "gets."

Gingerbread House

Order a warm chocolate lava cake at this family-owned Oquossoc institution.

Grant's Kennebago Camps

Try a classic sporting camp stay in one of the 18 cabins (meals are served in the main lodge), which has a sandy lake beach.

Saddleback Maine

One of Maine’s tallest peaks, measuring 4,120 feet, Saddleback draws skiers and snowboarders with 66 trails, some of which overlook the Rangeley Lakes. The more challenging runs reside at the top of the mountain, in the Kennebago Steeps, including the aptly named Intimidator and Nightmare. Further down, trails are less extreme, with many tracks suitable for children and beginners. Hardcore skiers have been known to avoid trails altogether and go off the grid into the non-groomed back country.

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