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River Valley Outdoors
ATV riding in the River Valley happens to be on the rise – just like the rest of the state. Years ago, this growing crowd of ATV riders organized local clubs and affiliated themselves with the Alliance of Trail Vehicles of Maine (ATV Maine), then went to work creating a system of trails called the Maine All-terrain Trail System, more commonly known by its acronym MATS.
I heard about this amazing increase in Maine’s ATV trail system a few years ago, and wondered how this would affect the recreation industry. My mind naturally followed the route snowmobiling has taken over the years. I envisioned well-groomed ATV trails connected by lodges and restaurants, catering to huge numbers of ATV enthusiasts – something similar to the system of trails snowmobilers enjoy.
After riding the MATS trails in several counties across the state, my suspicions proved correct. Along the trails, the stunning views and sweeping scenery actually took my breath away at certain points. Many of the trails connected one town to another, bringing extra business to each of the towns along the winding paths.
Some of the MATS trails also include campgrounds, providing ATV riders with a way to combine two great outdoor passions – camping and ATV riding. Several of the trails even connect one campground to another, with many miles of scenic landscape between – a perfect place to start an ATV camping journey.
Where To Go
Only about 25 percent of the currently registered ATVs belong to an owner that also holds an ATV Maine affiliated club membership, but the numbers rise each year. Club membership affords riders plenty of benefits. Trail maintenance and procurement probably top the list
of good reasons to join a club. Being a club member also puts riders in contact with folks that know the local trails that connect to the major trails, and the maps that detail these local ATV routes. ATV Maine’s website (atvmaine.org) can be accessed to find local club information from any of the state’s affiliated ATV clubs.
The Maine ATV Trail Map, put out by the Department of Conservation, Bureau of Parks and Lands, ORV Division/ATV Program (parksandlands.com), lists the various MATS routes, and corresponding clubs for each area. Riders can order the trail map by visiting the informative website, or calling 287-4958. Refer to the Parks and Lands website for detailed information on area businesses near each of the clubs. With just a few phone calls to these businesses riders can set up a complete trip – lodging, food, and entertainment.
Dixfield resident, Dan Mitchell, an avid ATV proponent, has held several positions within the ATV Maine organization: Legislative Committee Member, Executive Director, Western Regional Vice President, and Newspaper Editor. Surprising that he finds time to get away and do some ATV camping of his own. I called and asked about some of the trips he has taken recently.
The energetic ATV’er said, “We generally go to places where we can ride different trails each day for five to seven days per trip. There are many opportunities across the state to do this from Southern Maine to Down East, as well as Aroostook County. Some of the best trails go from campsite to campsite, and good scenery in between. We only see a few other riders on the trails, and most of the time, have the whole place to ourselves.”
One great camping ride in this area connects two local regions – Coos Canyon Campground in Byron, and Mountain View Campground in Dixfield. Riders take in the awesome scenery between Route 142 and Route 17, and enjoy great camping and fishing at either of the campgrounds.