Southwest of Baxter State Park within the North Maine Woods lies the 43,000 acre Namakanta Public Lands. The remote preserve features miles of forested hiking trails, secluded lakes with undeveloped shorelines, and low mountains that provide views of Katahdin, Baxter and the surrounding forests.
I hiked 6 miles of the Turtle Ridge Loop Trail today. The trail climbs steadily with several rock outcroppings overlooking Baxter. It then drops and passes within view of Henderson Pond. It descends to Hedgehog Pond, where the option exists to extend the hike past Sing Sing Pond and up Turtle Ridge. Due to time constraints I elected instead to circle back and complete the remaining 1.1 mile as it passed Rabbit Pond.
This is a beautiful hike through a variety of habitats. There was extensive evidence of bear and moose on the trail, and I saw a very large moose on Jo Mary Road while driving to the trailhead.
The only downside to hike was having to pay $11 per person to enter the North Maine Woods, but it was definitely worth it.