10 outdoor events to check out this weekend

If you feel like enjoying some outdoor activities with family or friends, consider checking out some of these Maine events, where you can mingle with the community and possibly learn something new about nature or discover a new fun-filled sport.

SATURDAY, AUG. 4, 2012

• Stalk seabirds and marine mammals: The Schoodic Sea Watch, a ranger-led walk to track seabird migrations and look for marine mammals, will be held 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 4 at the Schoodic Education and Research Center at 64 Acadia Dr. in Winter Harbor. For information, call Phyllis Morris at 288-1310 or visit sercinstitute.org.

• Hike the hills of Isle au Haut: Join guides Gary Roberts and George Libby for a day of hiking on Isle au Haut. The hike will be from 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. This most remote part of Acadia National Park offers spectacular ocean views and secluded forest trails. In addition to the natural beauty, there will be opportunities to view the animals and plants that call this island home. Come prepared to hike 5 miles at a leisurely pace. Cost is $75 for members and $90 for nonmembers. Registration is required. Register online at http://maineaudubon.org/events/2012/hiking-the-hills-of-isle-au-haut/ or call 781-2330.

Test out your Robin Hood/Katniss Everdeen factor: Try archery from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 4, at Maine Wildlife Park 56 Game Farm Road Gray. Join Jerome & Tina Richards — certified firearm, bow & crossbow hunter safety instructors — for some hands-on fun with archery. The Richards will provide instruction, set up archery targets, and have a variety of bows for you to try out. This is great way for you and your kids to try your hands at an increasingly popular sport. For information, visit http://www.mainewildlifepark.com or call 657-4977.

BDN photo by John Clarke Russ
Debbie Harman of Penobscot gets a few pointers on proper rifle handling from Albert Faust during a 2011 open house event at the Hampden Rifle and Pistol Club, of which Faust is a member.

• Have a blast shooting things: An introduction to shooting sports program, sponsored by the Penobscot County Conservation Association, will be held 9 a.m.-4  p.m. Saturday, Aug. 4, at Hampden Rifle and Pistol Club and Hermon Skeet Club. The event is free. Admission is by reservation only, so sign up now! Call Charlie Rumsey at 941-8575.

If you’re lucky, you’ll be one of the 100 people who will get the chance to try skeet, trap, sporting clays, shotgun sports, rifle, pistol, cowboy action and action pistol,  guided by experienced instructors. All participants will receive free safety glasses and ear protection, free use of guns and ammo, and free lunch after the morning session.

Participants under age 18 must be accompanied by a parent. The program is funded by a grant from the NRA Foundation.

• Take a bike ride through Freeport: Bring your bike and meet a biking group every Saturday through August 25 at 8 a.m. in Discovery Park at 95 Main St. in Freeport, for a 20-25 mile moderate loop for intermediate riders. For the safety of participants, rides will not take place in inclement weather and may be cancelled at the discretion of group leaders at any time. All riders must wear helmets to participate. Please call L.L. Bean beforehand to make sure the event is running on that date. For information, call 552-7670.

Explore off the beaten path … if you’re a Maine Audubon member: Join FPAC Director Matt Dubel for a free member walk to some of his favorite places on the property beyond the trail system from 10-11:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 4 at Fields Pond Audubon Center at 216 Fields Pond Rd. in Holden.  They will seek out some of the gems that most visitors never see and experience the range of natural communities found at Fields Pond. The walk is moderately strenuous and will involve walking off-trail. For information, call 989-2591.
Bike for a cause: Hundreds of riders will participate in a bike tour to benefit Multiple Sclerosis starting 7:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 4 at St. Joseph’s College in Standish. Riders can choose from the 25 or 100 mile ride that travels through the picturesque Lakes Region of Maine. Participants ride at their own pace. The race day will be followed by live entertainment and lobster bake on Sunday. Registration: $60 – $95. Fees: $250 fundraising minimum. For information, call Sean MacWilliam at 800-344-4867 or e-mail bikeMSGNE@nmss.org or visit http://www.nationalmssociety.org.

 SUNDAY, AUG. 5, 2012

BDN photo by Robert F. Bukaty
A red-winged blackbird dive bombs a great egret that may have been encroaching on the smaller bird’s nesting area at the Scarborough Marsh in Scarborough, Maine on June 17, 2012.

• Find birds while paddling a canoe: Get a close up look at birds in their habitat as you paddle 7:30-9 a.m. Sunday, August 5, at Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center on Pine Point Road in Scarborough.Migration will be underway and the birds will be feeding on the banks trying to bulk-up for their long trip south. $11 for Maine Audubon members, $12 for nonmembers. Bring your own canoe or kayak or rent one for $15 per hour (members) or $16 per hour (nonmembers). For information, call Linda Woodard at 883-5100.

• Paddle and learn about wetland plants: addle with Dick Andren, Biologist, to learn about the adaptation strategies used by wetland plants starting at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 5, at  Hirundo Wildlife Refuge at 35 Hudson Road in Alton. Bring a hand lens or magnifying glass. Canoes, paddles and lifejackets are available or bring your own canoe. Register by Saturday, Aug. 4, by calling Gudrun Keszöcze at 944-9259. Suggested donations are $4 for adults, school-aged children are free.

• Suntan, paddle, walk trails and picnic: Swan Lake State Park will host their fifth annual Family Fun Day on Sunday, Aug. 5. The event will have many of the same activities as previous years. Boy Scouts will set up a campsite and share information, and the ever-popular Shriner Clowns and Smokey the Bear will make an appearance. One new exhibit will be the Operation Game Thief “Wall of Shame” mobile display. Also, make sure to enjoy the selection of picnic food.

The event is free with park admission: $4 for adult Maine residents, $6 for adult nonresidents, $2 for seniors, $1 for children 5-11 years old, and free for children under 5.

BDN photo by Gabor Degre
John Gause of Bangor tosses his son Thomas over his shoulder while playing in the wter at Swan Lake State Park on Sunday afternoon. Several activities were offered at the park’s second annual Kids Day in June 2009.

Over the years, Family Fun Day attendance has grown, with more than 700 people visiting last year’s event.

Door-prize donations for adults and children have been provided by EBS, Morrill General Store, Perry’s Nut House, Dairy Queen, and Jerry’s True Value Hardware; and Hunt Hard Guide Service once again has donated two guided hunts.

Swan Lake State Park is a small, yet popular family park located on scenic Swan Lake. Last year, more than 15,000 people visited the park, which features a spacious beach, swimming area with lifeguard supervision, volleyball area, horseshoes pit, picnic sites with grills, and walking trails. Toilets (handicap accessible) and changing facilities also are available. New this year is the addition of a public boat dock. The park also has peddle boats, kayaks and canoes available for rental.

For information, call 525-4404 or visit http://www.maine.gov/swanlake.


Aislinn Sarnacki

About Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the Outdoors pages, focusing on outdoor recreation and Maine wildlife. Visit her main blog at actoutwithaislinn.bangordailynews.com.