About a month ago, Francis and I were looking for a reason to ride someplace and the weather was threatening along the coast, so we decided to go west and visit the Height-Of-Land on ME-17. This spectacular scenic overlook is built atop Spruce Mountain, with gorgeous views of Mooselookmeguntic and Richardson Lakes to the west. The autumn is the best time to visit the Height-Of-Land, as the fall foliage paints a stunning picture.
This photo was taken a few years back and appears on one of the first posts of this blog. I include it here because I still think it’s a good picture, and because I notice that the water in Mooselookmeguntic was much higher then, than it is now. The following (current) photo also appears to have been taken later in the season:
ME-17 is accessed from the west via ME-16 through Oquossoc, or from the south through Rumford, a confusing old mill town in which the roads appear to follow cowpaths as they convolute themselves over and across the Androscoggin River (in other words, bring a map if you visit Rumford!). Rumford is the childhood home of U.S. Senator Edmund Muskie, one of Maine’s most famous sons; the Androscoggin River, horribly polluted by the Rumford paper mills during Muskie’s boyhood, became the impetus for him to become the driving force behind the landmark 1972 Clean Water Act, making Muskie one of the first environmentalists in Congress.
About ten miles south of the Height-Of-Land in the village of Byron, the Swift River crosses ME-17 at Coos Canyon, on the way to its confluence with the Androscoggin in Rumford. There is a pleasant roadside park and picnic area at Coos Canyon, with an interesting general store across the street and a campground across the river. Here, the Swift River drops over a series of scenic waterfalls on its way south:
There is a large parking lot beside the road at the Height-Of-Land and it was pretty-well crowded when we arrived, on what turned out to be one of the last nice weekend days of the 2016 foliage season. Lovely mountain and lake views are available for 180 degrees to the west:
Here’s Francis enjoying the views!
As I walked along the parking lot here, I passed a gorgeous silver BMW convertible coupe which I stopped to admire (should have taken a picture of it!); and as I continued along, I heard a woman’s voice saying, “That looks like him, I’m pretty sure it’s him”. I turned around to find my dear friends Sue and John, married only the week before and at whose wedding I attended, returning from their wedding trip and stopped there like us to admire the view — and it turns out that they are the owners of that cherry BMW! John promised me a ride someday and I intend to hold him to his promise!
There is another nice scenic view farther along ME-117 heading into Rangeley, and we stopped there as well.
The ride to the Height-Of-Land is one of the best motorbike trips in the state and is very popular during foliage season, for good reason. We passed dozens of motorcycles along ME-17, and there were probably 30 bikes in the parking lot at the Height-Of-Land, although we had the only scooters!
This trip ranks as a “must-ride” Maine motorbike road, along with Acadia’s Park Loop Road and New Hampshire’s Kancamagus Highway, and it makes an outstanding fall foliage ride for anyone. Highly recommended!