Photo Credit: Maine an Encyclopedia. Pictured: Thousand Acre Bog and the log yard on Cow Team Trail.
Maine ATV Trail Ride to a World Famous Bog …OK, not so famous, but not to be missed!
Maine ATV rides can take you to some amazing places. You may have read our last blog, Top 3 ATV Trails from Katahdin. Today, we explore a place pretty much unlike any other on earth. It’s called the Thousand Acre Bog in the town of Crystal, Maine. From Camp Katahdin, you can ride an ATV right to it.
ATV Trail from Patten to Thousand Acre Bog
- Distance: From Camp Katahdin in Patten, it’s about a 15 mile ATV ride, with Crystal at about the 6 mile mark.
- Why you’ll enjoy the ride: Diversity of scenery. The trail winds through both open fields and timber and crosses a couple rivers. The trail makes a big loop so you don’t have to ride same route on the return trip.
- Added perk: Time it so you get back to Patten around meal time (or beer-thirty). There are a number of great spots to stop for dinner before returning to camp.
For this ATV ride, you’ll start in Patten, Maine and head southeast out Cow Team Trail. Crystal is about a six mile ride from there. After checking out the area, your return ride will take you south a bit then it will loop back around via the St. Regis Road back into Patten.
Maine’s Thousand Acre Bog
Thousand Acre Bog is one of Maine’s best examples of a domed bog ecosystem and has therefore been designated as a Focus Area of Statewide Ecological Significance. It contains one of Maine’s most diverse fens (a special type of wetland) and a number of rare and unique plants and animals.
Dominated by cedar and spruce swamps, it is a pristine ecosystem containing the state’s largest population of the rare swamp birch and a number of other species.
Maine’s Rare Flora and Fauna
Photo Credit: Beth Swartz
The site also provides critical habitat to the Clayton’s copper butterfly, a state endangered species, thanks to the existence of large stands of shrubby cinquefoil sedge.
Why is this important? Because the sedge is the butterfly’s only larval host plant (nothing like putting all your larvae in one basket!). It’s not so much that the sedge itself is rare, it’s that it seldom exists in large enough quantities to support the endangered butterfly.
For those of you that slept through biology class, “endangered” is one step shy of “extinct”. As in gone. No more. Never to be seen again. Like the dinosaurs.
To put the importance of this in perspective, the Clayton’s copper butterfly is known to exist only in eleven sites on earth. Nine of them are in Maine (the other two are right over in New Brunswick).
There are other important and rare species known to inhabit the Thousand Acre Bog. Then there are some that are not so rare, but certainly worth a story.
Largest Whitetail Buck Ever Harvested in Maine
Photo Credit: North American Whitetail
Turns out the Bog has also produced the largest typical whitetail buck ever harvested in the state. And what’s crazy is that the guy that shot him claims he wasn’t even the bigger of the two he’d eyed for a couple years. Here’s the story:
Ronnie Cox grew up on the edge of Thousand Acre Bog. Though the area was legal to hunt, the floating masses of sod, swamp grass, and low-growing cedars made the area not just nearly impenetrable but also unsafe. Hunters therefore were relegated to the fringes and the deer that called the Bog home were all but left to grow as large as biology would allow.
In the mid-1960’s biology must have favored a pair of Bog bucks as rumors began to circulate around the local community of two monsters that occasionally ventured outside the Bog’s protective cover. Cox, a local potato farmer, knew the rumors to be true. He had seen the bucks on multiple occasions. One sported a rather typical rack, the other, a larger deer, carried a tangle of horns.
Cox took to the field in pursuit of the monsters during the 1964 hunting season. As misfortune and a too-busy schedule would have it (sound familiar?), his efforts went unrewarded.
Ironically, it was his profession as a potato farmer that played to his fortune the following season. Late into the hunting season, he noticed sign that deer were frequenting the area where they stored potatoes. The deer apparently fed on soil and scraps left behind from the potato-sifting operations conducted prior to putting the spuds into storage. So Cox took to making regular visits there in the hopes of spotting the brutes.
It took until the very last week of season, on a night of a heavy winter storm. Cox drove in to check on the swamp-surrounded field and saw two dark figures through the blowing snow. One was a doe. The other was one of the fabled bucks. He turned rumor into reality with one shot from his rifle.
His harvest turned out to be the smaller of the two bucks: The one with the typical, albeit massive rack. Dressed out, the deer tipped the scales at 240 pounds. And even after 16 inches of deductions, the rack landed in the Boone and Crockett book with a score of 192 2/8, a Maine state record that has yet to be broken.
The Thousand Acre Bog probably won’t ever be listed as the eighth wonder. But it certainly is a very unique place. Making the return ATV ride back to camp (which you can do on a separate trail from the one you came in on), one can only imagine what other unique and monstrous creatures the Bog holds.
*The above mentioned trails can change from year to year. This blog post is for informational purposes only. Please take care and time to plan your trips by contacting the Patten ATV Club or ATVMaine.org. Patten ATV Club is a very active and hard working club. Even if you’re from out of town we encourage you to join as your money will go to direct improvement. Of course, we will help Camp Katahdin visitors map out day-trips in person upon arival or give us a call.
Denney Lodge at Camp Katahdin is a new, luxury Lodge in Patten, Maine that sits right on Maine’s most beautiful ATV trails (in our humble opinion). It sleeps 15 and comes with a brand new Chef’s kitchen. Step out your door and jump on your four wheelers for short rides around town or let us help you map out an amazing day trip. Read more about our lodge here: