Get fresh air, any time of year!
By Pam Ashby
While the primary focus of the Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary has been a wildlife preserve, there are many of us two-footed explorers that have enjoyed the trails through this 372 acre spot in Lewiston, as well. Sitting at the highest point in Lewiston, an elevation of 510 feet, the network of 4.4 miles of trails can be a great escape on any given day.
Thorncrag encompasses many of the things found enjoyable when it comes to outside activities, all year round. Things like bird watching (of course), hiking, picnicking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, sledding, skating and nature photography. If you are a local and haven’t checked out Thorncrag, it is a no-brainer. If you are just visiting and are looking for something to do to get away (without spending any money), this is a great place to see more of what Lewiston-Auburn has to offer.
The preserve area is also utilized for educational purposes. Bates College visits Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary for scientific research, along with University of Maine, other local colleges, high schools, Boy and Girl Scouts troops, botanical societies, garden clubs and arborists using the sanctuary as a demonstration and workshop site.
With clearly marked trails through hundreds of acres, Free and Fun in L/A can definitely be found here.
Please note: dogs, geocaching, mountain biking, and motorized vehicles are not permitted anywhere within the sanctuary.
A hidden treasure
Over 150 years ago, many visited Mount Apatite in Auburn, not for its scenic hiking or water holes, but in hopes of finding treasure. Situated off Minot Avenue in Auburn, commercial miners and amateurs alike once dug for gems like tourmaline and quartz. Today, only amateurs are allowed to search for these hidden treasures.
In 1994, Mount Apatite received a grant from the Land and Water Conservation Fund which allowed the park to offer a wider variety of uses than most municipal parks. The trails are groomed in the winter for snow lovers to enjoy snowmobiling, snowshoeing and cross country skiing. In the spring, summer and fall there is something for everyone to enjoy, like the old favorite – searching for gems in many of the mines lined along the trails. There are also 7.2 miles of trails to explore, by foot or mountain bike.
More fresh air
The David Rancourt River Preserve, dedicated to Deputy Sheriff David Rancourt, is a trail along the Androscoggin River. Located in Lewiston below the Deep Rips Dam, this one-mile loop passes two sandy beaches and a scenic overlook on the river’s edge. Walk, run or snowshoe: this trail is open all year round. It is also great for cross-country skiing, fishing, kayaking/canoeing or just a leisurely hike. Leashed pets are permitted. Non-motorized usage only.
Want to walk off that big dinner you just had, or just feel like getting out in the fresh air to stretch your legs? Auburn Riverwalk passes right behind the Gritty’s Auburn location and meanders all the way up to Bonney-Hyde Park. Walk to see the falls up close and personal, or walk across the converted railroad trestle into Lewiston. This trail is paved, offers wheelchair access, and can be used for biking and in-line skating, as well as walking and running.
Wanna hear some music?
Olin Concert Series at Bates College, which runs throughout the school year, features the Bates Choir, Jazz Band, and individual student performances, among other musical talents. In the summer, Concerts on the Quad is held on Thursdays at 6:30pm, three times during the season. This concert takes place on none other than Bates’ Historic Quad, located at College Street and Campus Avenue. Bring a picnic and chairs or blankets, sit back and enjoy the talent emerging from Bates College. The rain site is the nearby Peter J. Gomes Chapel, also on the Quad at 275 College Street. For a list of who’s in the spotlight visit: www.bates.edu/olin
If you’re short on time, but still want to hear music, visit the Trinity Church for Oasis of Music. The beautiful church is located at 247 Bates Street in Lewiston. Every Wednesday at 12:30p.m., you can hear a half-hour of music. From September to May, the music series features local artists performing vocal and instrumental music of all types, from folk to jazz to classical, world and everything in between. What better way to spend an afternoon than listening to a variety of styles of music in a welcoming and beautiful space?
Start a dance party in the park. Festival Plaza, located on Main Street in Auburn, is a downtown plaza for outdoor performances. It provides a gathering place for residents and visitors, with seating areas, water features, and passive recreation space for anyone just wanting to get outside and out of the backyard.
Starting in June, the Auburn Community Concert Band entertains locals and visitors alike with a complimentary concert every Wednesday through August. Starting at 7p.m., people can sit and enjoy the sounds of a variety of music that is often well-known to attendees of all ages. The tradition of the Wednesday concert in the park has built up an average of 300-400 people in attendance on any given Wednesday. Parking is ample with a free parking garage across the street. In inclement weather, the concerts are moved to the Franco Center in Lewiston.
Want more than just music?
In 2011, LA Arts partnered with the community to coordinate a monthly summer event that turns 20+ local business and storefronts into museums and music venues, known as the Art Walk of Lewiston-Auburn. From Main Street in Auburn, across the bridge to Lisbon Street, Lewiston, visitors and locals come to view galleries, exhibitions, and special performances. It’s also a great way to connect with friends and meet new ones. Over the past six years, the Art Walk of Lewiston-Auburn has grown to bring thousands of people to the area over the course of the summer. FMI: artwalkmaine.org/artwalk-lewiston-auburn
Spending the day at the beach is an enjoyable way to ward off some of Maine’s hot and humid summer days. The Municipal Outlet Beach, located at 2 Fair Street in Auburn, provides everything you might need to cool off and have some fun. With free admittance, it’s an added bonus that this beach also has picnic tables, gazebos and playground equipment. So, if you want to go for the day or just swing in for a quick dip to cool off, Municipal Outlet Beach is a great, nearby spot!
More FUN & Free
- Great Falls Paddling – androscogginlandtrust.org/programs/great-falls-paddling-society
- Skate Park – Park St. and Spruce St., Lewiston
- Tennis Courts – Edward Little High School
- Baxter Brewing Tour – 130 Mill St. Lewiston