Dirt Road Destinations – June eNews

Summer events, family getaways, youth adventures, signs to get you there, and more…

A man stands in a wide forest river, fishing.
Waiting for a strike. Photo credit: Nolan Altvater

We are excited to share that registration is now open for our annual summer celebration, Woods & Waters Day! You are invited to join us on the evening of Saturday, August 17th at Ktaadn Resorts New England Outdoor Center in Millinocket. This year’s celebration honors the many accomplishments achieved by this community in just eight years since the designation of Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument. Among the highlights is Tekαkαpimək Contact Station, now poised to usher in the next era of visitation to the Katahdin region. Tickets and a whole lot more information can be found here!

But don’t wait until August to visit if you can help it. Early summer is a wonderful time for paddling the East Branch of the Penobscot, a weekend camping getaway, or a gravel bike tour. Sure, the mosquitos are biting, but so are the fish. The roads are dusty, but they connect your family and friends to coldwater streams, lush green canopies, possible moose sightings, and each other.

Read on for stories about the Katahdin Learning Project’s enrichment programs in local schools, new signage coming to the monument, news from the National Park Service, and more.

Priority Park Progress

Last year, you heard from Friends about the A Monumental Welcome campaign. The campaign isA brown sign with hiking trails listed in white in front of leafy trees. funding a variety of efforts to improve and enhance the visitor experience in the monument, and we’re excited to begin sharing campaign success stories with you as these projects get underway.

The next project we want to highlight is a new signage and wayfinding plan! This project includes an assessment of existing park signage and then a comprehensive master wayfinding plan to identify the need and location for additional signage at KAWW. The master plan will include a layout of all new/replacement signs, fabrication details, and locations. Funds granted by Friends will also cover the purchase and installation of the new/replacement signs.

Friends’ News

We sent our Spring Membership Appeal letters at the beginning of June. Many of you have responded generously with donations of all sizes – thank you!! Membership support makes nearly everything we do possible now, and better in the future. If you can, we hope you’ll take just a few moments to send your support today.

Two kayaks in a whitewater stream in the forest.
Millinocket Stream kayak adventure! Photo credit: FKWW


The end of the school year is a busy time for teachers, students, parents, and Friends’ place-based education program Katahdin Learning Project! As school-based programming finished, staff shifted to training summer staff. A recent high point was kayaking Millinocket Stream with high school students from Houlton and Millinocket. Skowhegan Outdoors and the Millinocket X-Stream Race helped make this excursion possible – thank you!

A man with a hand on a tree branch surrounded by middle school children.
Ronan with students in April Vacation Camp. Photo credit: She of the Flowers

KLP recently celebrated the conclusion of a pilot program. Students at Stearns High School in Millinocket with qualifying grades can opt in to “enrichment time,” with choices such as going to the library or gym. This spring, for the first time, they also had the option to join Outside Enrichment with the Katahdin Learning Project. Students were surveyed in March to discover their interests, which led to activities ranging from archery to outdoor cooking to discussions on wilderness ethics. Student feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and when asked if we should continue next year, the response was, “Yes, but more!” We recently bid a fond farewell to spring Seasonal Educator Ronan, who showed us that a deep personal passion for the outdoor world is truly contagious.

Attention Katahdin Region middle and high school students – only a few spots remain in our Summer Adventure Series! These free experiences are funded through the Maine Department of Education’s Maine Outdoor Learning Initiative (MOLI) to provide Maine students with hands-on, outdoor learning experiences this summer.

Behind the Signs

News from the National Park Service and Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument

A brown wooden sign: Welcome to Katahdin Woods & Waters NM.

  • All monument road gates are now open! Grading and repairs were undertaken this spring, however, please be prepared for slow and bumpy travel on these rustic routes.
  • Frontcountry trails including the Deasey Pond Trail, Messer Pond, and more, are all cleared of winter debris and ready for hikers. Backcountry trails will be cleared by mid-June.
  • ALERT! The Seboeis Connector Road is temporarily closed due to washout. Click over to the National Park Service KAWW website to find updates, and all alerts, before any trip to the monument.
  • Have you booked your KAWW camping getaway at recreation.gov yet?
  • Kiah Walker was recently hired as the new Natural Resouces Program Manager. Kiah is recently coming from Minuteman National Historic Park, where she served as a biologist. Kiah has professional experience in the New England area with the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is originally from New Hampshire.
  • Friends’ staff watched this video released by Grand Canyon National Park. The 24-minute film invites viewers and visitors to experience Grand Canyon through the stories of some of the eleven Associated Tribes’ members. The collaborative project, years in the making, is a joint effort of the Intertribal Working Group, Grand Canyon Conservancy, and Grand Canyon National Park.

Ripple Effect

News and notes from the Katahdin region, the Friends community, and beyond

Sponsor Spotlight

Thank you to our new Lookout sponsor Versant Power. Contributing both time and funding to nonprofits in its service area, Versant supports many local organizations and initiatives. We are proud to have you as a Friend!

And thank you to Bangor Savings Bank for supporting Friends as a Deasey sponsor! Your commitment to community is making a difference for the monument and region.

Sponsors provide crucial funding that supports Friends’ mission and work. To learn more about becoming a sponsor in 2024, visit friendsofkww.org/sponsorship or contact sarah@friendsofkww.org.

—This blog post was adapted from an email sent on June 21, 2024. Sign up for our email list at friendsofkww.org/signup