Get a workout or take it easy
Hike, swim, or kick back and enjoy the outdoors
GREENVILLE, Maine - This little town is the gateway to Moosehead Lake, a four-season playground for hiking, fishing, boating, kayaking, hunting, leaf-peeping, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and moose-watching. It’s also a perfect place to kick back and relax.
Greenville may be small (fewer than 2,000 residents), but it abounds with lodging. The elegant Greenville Inn (40 Norris St., 888-695-6000, www.greenvilleinn.com, $140-$450) within walking distance of what one would have to call the “downtown,’’ is among the larger options, with 14 rooms and views of the lake. The Pleasant Street Inn (26 Pleasant St., 207-695-3400, www.pleasantstinn.com, $85-$260) occupies an 1889 Victorian home with a wraparound porch and excellent views. Anyone planning an extended stay should check in with Northwoods Camp Rentals (14 Lakeview St., 800-251-8042, www.mooseheadrentals.com, wide range of prices), which offers more than 50 homes, many of which have access to private beaches on both Moosehead Lake and neighboring ponds.
With all its other allures, people don’t come to Greenville for its fine dining. The Greenville Inn does have a classy restaurant, but elsewhere it’s small cafes, pubs, and other spots where anyone would feel comfortable in either a jacket and tie or hunting gear. The Stress Free Moose Pub & Cafe (65 Pritham Ave., 207-695-3100, burgers $6, sandwiches $5.95-$8.50) is where locals and tourists alike go to unwind with beer, chili, and burgers. Likewise with the Black Frog (17 Pritham Ave., 207-695-1100, www.theblackfrog.com, burgers and sandwiches $5.95-$11.95, entrees $10-$24), where you can enjoy a burger, sandwich, or - if you really want it - liver and onions out on the dock overlooking the lake. If you just want a pizza or sub to take back to camp, stop by Jamieson’s Market/Jamo’s Pizza (34 Pritham Ave., 207-695-2201, large pizzas $10.89-$20), which is also pretty much the only place within 40 miles where you can buy a half gallon of milk after 8 p.m. For breakfast (served all day), you absolutely must stop in at Auntie M’s (13 Lily Bay Road, 207-695-2238), where you can get not only omelets and pancakes but - behold! - a Belgian waffle banana split ($5.95), which my kids proclaimed the best breakfast on earth.
DURING THE DAY
One comes to Greenville and Moosehead to experience the outdoors. The best, closest, and family-friendliest hike is the one that goes up and down Little Moose Mountain. There is no fee to get in, but you have to work to find the trailhead, which is a few miles up hilly dirt roads. Hikers can take various routes that will consume anywhere from one to eight hours, and none of them are too strenuous. There are many, many hikes in the area; don’t limit your choices to this one. For a more leisurely amble through the woods - and a relaxing time on the beach - head a few miles up the lake’s eastern shore to Lily Bay State Park (13 Myrle’s Way, 207-695-2700). If you want to get on the water, you can rent canoes or kayaks or take white-water rafting trips from outfitters such as Northeast Guide Service (142 Moosehead Lake Road, 888-484-3317, www.northeastguideservice.com, white-water rafting trips $99-$119). For a bird’s-eye view of Moosehead, charter a seaplane from any number of outfits, including Currier’s Flying Service (447 Pritham Ave., 207-695-2778, www.curriersflyingservice.com, starting at $38). Most people who come to Moosehead want to see a moose; they may want to hook up with Northwoods Outfitters (5 Lily Bay Road, 866-223-1380, www.maineoutfitter.com, tours start at $39.95) for a four-hour “moose safari.’’ For souvenirs, pop into Mud Puddle Mercantile for affordable memorabilia, Moosin’ Around Maine for blown glass and wind chimes, Gallery on the Lake for framed photographs and local pickles, and the IndianStore for everything from moose antlers to gag gifts. All of these shops are on the same block of Pritham Avenue, at the town center.
After dark? Good luck! Greenville essentially shuts down at 8 p.m. A few of the pubs will stay open if people are there, but the sole spot that offers any semblance of nighttime entertainment is Woody’s Bar & Grill (2 Industrial Park Road, 207-695-2488), where you can hear live music after the rest of Greenville has gone to bed. Beyond that, you’re just going to have to open the windows and listen to the loons. And who wouldn’t want to do that?