Fodor's Expert Review Golden Road

Millinocket Scenic Drive

For a scenic North Woods drive, set off on the roughly 21-mile stretch of this private east–west logging road near Baxter State Park northwest of Millinocket. Have patience with ruts and bumps, and yield to logging trucks (keep right!). From Millinocket follow the signs for Baxter State Park from Route 157. This scenic drive begins 8 miles from the railroad overpass as you exit town, at the crossover from Millinocket Lake Road to the Golden Road, the latter reportedly named for the huge sum a paper company paid to build it.

North Woods Trading Post is at this junction, across from Ambajejus Lake. Stop in not just for takeout, coffee, gas, or North Woods–theme gifts but to pick up a free handout noting stops along the Golden Road, with mileage—a godsend along this remote stretch, where ponds for moose spotting aren't signed and hiking spots that are signed can still be easy to miss. River Pond Nature Trail offers several treks; the access road is on the left about six miles... READ MORE

For a scenic North Woods drive, set off on the roughly 21-mile stretch of this private east–west logging road near Baxter State Park northwest of Millinocket. Have patience with ruts and bumps, and yield to logging trucks (keep right!). From Millinocket follow the signs for Baxter State Park from Route 157. This scenic drive begins 8 miles from the railroad overpass as you exit town, at the crossover from Millinocket Lake Road to the Golden Road, the latter reportedly named for the huge sum a paper company paid to build it.

North Woods Trading Post is at this junction, across from Ambajejus Lake. Stop in not just for takeout, coffee, gas, or North Woods–theme gifts but to pick up a free handout noting stops along the Golden Road, with mileage—a godsend along this remote stretch, where ponds for moose spotting aren't signed and hiking spots that are signed can still be easy to miss. River Pond Nature Trail offers several treks; the access road is on the left about six miles from the trading post. Continuing along the Golden Road, you'll pass the aforementioned ponds (watch for spots to pull over and park); it's 4 miles to one-lane Abol Bridge over the West Branch of the Penobscot River. There are turnouts for parking, or stop before the bridge at Abol Bridge Campground, with a restaurant and store. Take photos of Baxter's Mt. Katahdin from the footbridge alongside Abol Bridge: this view is famous. Just beyond the bridge is an access road and kiosk for Debsconeag Lakes Wilderness Area. The 2-mile round-trip Ice Cave trailhead is 5 miles in on a river-hugging dirt road with more Katahdin views. Continuing from Abol Bridge, the Golden Road also flows alongside the waterway.

At the western end of the drive, the river drops 70-plus feet per mile through Ripogenus Gorge, giving white-water rafters a thrilling ride during scheduled releases from Ripogenus Dam. The Crib Works Rapid (Class V) overlook is off the Golden Road about 9 miles from Abol Bridge. (Turn right on Telos Road; parking is on the right after the bridge.) For the best gorge views, return to the Golden Road, and continue west about a mile and turn right into McKay Station, where many rafters put in. Be cautious on the downhill paths and atop the steep cliffs. To drive across the dam on Ripogenus Lake and view the gorge, get back on the Golden Road and head west three-quarters of a mile to Rip Dam Road, which veers right. Returning to the crossover at the North Woods Trading Post, turn left for Baxter or right for Millinocket.

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Quick Facts

Golden Rd.
Millinocket, Maine  USA

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