Maine ATV riding is the best for so many reasosn. The extensive trail system, the people, the gorgeous, great outdoor scenery. In Maine, east of Patten, and southeast of Island Falls is a little spot on the ATV Trail Map labeled Bible Point. Curious, I did some searching and discovered the site has ties to former president Teddy Roosevelt.
Hmm. Tell me more…
What’s even more interesting for those interested in ATV riding in Maine is that many of Roosevelt’s journeys can be followed more or less on ATV trails. Start your engines because today we follow President Rough Rider himself, Maine style!
Maine ATV riding in the footsteps of Roosevelt
Our journey of course begins at Camp Katahdin. A warm cup of coffee and some unleaded is all it takes to fuel human and machine as we take to Maine ATV trails heading first down toward Patten then south toward Sherman.
Our destination? The town of Mattawamkeag. It was there that Roosevelt and his fellow travelers, a cousin and two friends, arrived by train on his first visit to Island Falls back in September of 1878.
Photo from Maine.gov
From there we begin tracing Roosevelt’s steps. Historic accounts state that from the train station, Roosevelt’s party “traveled the remaining thirty-six miles by buckboard. They slept that night in a field-bed in the third floor of the William Sewall residence.”
Wait, what’s a buckboard? According to the internet, it’s a four-wheeled wagon. Pulled of course by a horse. After all, it was 1878.
Thank goodness today’s buckboards replace horses with horsepower and have better suspension. We still got a good ride ahead of us.
From Mattawamkeag, our ride doubles back north, maybe not exactly along the same route Roosevelt took nearly 140 years ago, but probably not far from it. Just south of Benedicta, we’ll veer northeast making our way toward Bible Point on the south shore of Lake Mattawamkeag.
Here, you’ll want to stop for a bit and take it all in. This is a pretty special place.
Photo from Maine.gov
“They camped at the foot of Mattawamkeag Lake, and did their hunting and fishing in the area. Mr. Sewall often told his family that Mr. Roosevelt would take his Bible each day and go alone to a certain spot in the woods – and since that time, the beautiful point of land at the confluence of West Branch Mattawamkeag and First Brook has been known as “Bible Point”.”
Imagine being here in a different time. A time before most would consider “modern”. A time where interstate travel was done exclusively by train, and sites like this were accessible only by foot or by horse. Imagine a not-quite-20 year old Roosevelt spending mornings on this spot, bible in hand, taking in this view.
Is it any wonder he became a champion for national parks and forests as president a couple decades later?
“A plaque was placed at this spot in 1921 by the Roosevelt Memorial Association, and in 1970 Bible Point was named to the State Register of Historic Places. This 27.4 acre point was donated to the State of Maine in December 1971, to be preserved as a natural area.”
(Request a trail map from Maine’s Bureau of Parks and Lands’ ATV Program by calling (207) 287-2751)
From here, we continue our journey northwest to the town of Island Falls. Roosevelt visited this town several times on his trips to Maine. For a taste of the times, be sure to stop by the early-1900’s Tingley House, a restored potato house and former jailhouse maintained by the local historical society.
From Island Falls, our ride heads north, possibly following the general route Roosevelt and Sewell later took on their journeys to the Ox Bow region where they hunted, fished, and canoed on more than one occasion. On one adventure “he and Mr. Sewall took a trip to Munsungun Lakes. They rode forty-six miles in a wagon to the Ox Bow, then waded, poled, and paddled fifty miles in a pirogue up the Aroostook River to Munsungun.”
A pirogue is a dugout canoe. The kind made from a single tree trunk, designed in such a way as to allow it to navigate shallow water. Hence the FIFTY MILES of wading, poling, and paddling.
It is on this trail that our riding in Roosevelt’s footsteps ends. There are no direct trails to the “Ox Bow” which would be somewhere west of Ashland. And so we continue on this route, winding back west and south back down toward Patten and a return to camp to prepare for tomorrow’s ride.
Denney Lodge at Camp Katahdin is our new luxury log cabin that sleeps 15. Complete with a chef’s kitchen, comfortable leather sofas, a boardroom, and every amenity you can think of, it’s a nice way to get together with friends and family for a little trail riding.
View pics, rates, and available dates here: