Find Your Way Around Western Maine's Lakes and Mountains with a Registered Maine Guide
~Professional guides offer visitors a look at hidden gems~

WESTERN MAINE - From anglers looking to find prime fishing locations to sightseers hoping to catch a glimpse of Maine's more remote beauty, hiring a Registered Maine Guide is a great way to get expert advice and knowledge from someone who truly knows the Maine outdoors.

The Lakes and Mountains Region of western Maine provides many destinations for people to get away and
  
reacquaint themselves with nature, but the wilderness is best explored and appreciated when approached with knowledge, research and safety. All Registered Maine Guides are trained in wilderness survival skills and have completed at least one first aid course.

The Maine Professional Guides Association specializes in helping people find licensed guides who are dedicated to promoting a quality, ethical and safe outdoor experience.

"For a lot of visitors, they are really out of their natural element when they come to the Maine woods," said Rick Hill of Mt. Chase Lodge in Mt. Chase and president of the Maine Professional Guides Association. "That is where the importance of hiring a Registered Maine Guide comes into play. A guide has in-depth knowledge of the areas where they lead trips. They make sure people are properly prepared for being in the outdoors and that they stay safe."

For visitors looking to learn something new or brush up some rusty outdoors skills, there is no better instructor than a Maine guide. Guides are part tour guide, part teacher and part historian. In addition to teaching proper techniques and safety precautions, they also share their knowledge of the history of the area, further enhancing the experience of the trip.

Guides can teach you how to bait a hook, show you the best hiking routes, whip up meals along the way and help you rough it under the stars. When you hire a Maine guide, it is up to you to decide what your trip will be. All it takes is a little research to find a guide who meets your outdoor adventure needs.

There is no shortage of hiking and paddling adventures in western Maine. The many mountains and lakes, streams and ponds offer an endless choice of outdoor opportunities that show off Maine's scenic landscapes and wildlife. Registered Maine Guides can escort you down a rapid river or lead you on a trail trek to the top of a 3,000-foot peak. Most guides practice eco-friendly behavior and can assist paddlers with low-impact camping and how to follow the "leave no trace" credo.

Many guides - both male and female - have established trips catering especially for women who are looking for an outdoor adventure on their own, or as part of a group of like-minded women. For many active women, a day at the spa cannot compare with a day spent navigating whitewater rapids.

For fishing enthusiasts looking to hook a trout or bass at the end of their line, western Maine guides can bring anglers to where the fish are biting and the scenery is breathtaking. Guides provide the boat, supplies and knowledge of the area, as well as the most effective bait.

"It takes all the guess work out of the planning," said Nathan Wight, who works for Sun Valley Sports in Bethel, and is a fourth generation Registered Maine Guide. "Since we are out there fishing every day, we know where the fish are and what they're feeding on."

Licensed guides can also provide the ultimate hunting outing as visitors track bear, moose, deer, fowl and turkey through western Maine's dense forests. Depending on the hunting season, guides will accompany visitors on speciality trips as well, as they educate hunters on tracking animals and provide safety instruction. Hill recommends that any first time hunter in Maine hire a guide.

"Especially if you are not familiar with the area, a guide can help give you pointers on basic safety as well as help you find the best hunting spots," said Hill.

But don't think that a trip with a Maine guide is only about traditional outdoor pursuits. Many guides specialize in leading more nature-based trips, such as wildlife watching, with moose gazing by far the most popular request. Guides can even take you "prospecting" by teaching you how to pan for gold.

"There is a whole array of activities that guides are involved with," said Hill. "The most traditional are hunting and fishing, but there are also guides that specialize in nature photography, wild flowers and bird watching."

Guides are ambassadors to the wilderness and can introduce people to areas they might not discover on their own. A guidebook can tell you a lot about a place before you go, but it is no substitute for traveling with someone who has first-hand knowledge of the region.

"As a Maine guide we have to know a lot of things," said Wight. "Anything you want to know about the outdoors, ask a Maine guide. We know the answer because we are out here all the time."

Hiring a Registered Maine Guide can enhance any outdoor experience, and not just for the customer but for the guide too.

 "For me, watching a young kid getting the hang of fishing and finally catch that first fish, or just watching people experience the outdoors with you, that is what it is all about," said Carl Bois of Rocky Ridge Guide Services in Lovell. "About 80 percent of my business is repeat customers, so I get to see a lot of the same people year after year. While they are your customers, they also become your friends."

The Lakes and Mountains Region of western Maine offers a multitude of outdoor adventures that let you reconnect with nature and yourself. Visit www.visitmaine.com, www.maineguides.org or www.maineguides.com to find a Registered Maine Guide and start planning your adventure.

 

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