Bethel is pure New England: a town with white clapboard houses, a large green, white-steeple churches, and a mountain vista at the end of every street. Gould Academy, a college prep school founded in 1836, anchors the east side of downtown. On Main Street, the new Maine Mineral & Gem Museum honors the region's storied mining history—and has a moon rock collection that rocks. In winter, Bethel is ski country. Sunday River, one of Maine's big ski resorts, is only a few miles north in Newry, while family-friendly Mt. Abram is east of town. On the third weekend in July, Bethel Area Summerfest includes a parade, fireworks, live music, and a frog-jumping contest. Whatever the season folks hit the trails at Bethel Village Trails on the edge of the village and 978-acre Bethel Community Forest a few miles from the town center. Under the tutelage of nonprofit Mahoosuc Pathways (www.mahoosucpathways.org), both locales welcome hikers, mountain bikers, snowshoers, and cross-country skiers.
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