The Old Canada Road is one of only 125 National Scenic Byways in the country. The 78-mile scenic byway runs along Route 201, following the river trading routes of the Abenaki Tribe and the path followed by Benedict Arnold on the way to Québec. But a National Scenic Byway has to be more than scenic. The route must have historical significance to the region and offer recreational activities. The Old Canada Road has it all: historical markers, spectacular scenery, and endless opportunities for outdoor adventure.
BEGIN YOUR VOYAGE AT ROBBINS HILL
The byway runs northwest to the Canadian Border through forests and beside the Kennebec River. Driving north out of Skowhegan on Route 201, you top a hill, and a view opens up. Robbins Hill Scenic Area marks the southernmost end of the Old Canada Road National Scenic Byway on your left. It offers fantastic views westward across the upper Kennebec River Valley, a picnic pavilion, and informational plaques on the area’s history.
The northern portion above The Forks is a few areas in New England where you can go for miles through undeveloped mountains and forests. Stop for the spectacular mountain views from Attean Overlook in Jackman, where the lakes sit at the mountains’ feet.
The Old Canada Road is famous for its inspiring fall colors. The bright crimson, orange, and gold landscape draw visitors along Route 201 from early September to October.
Be sure to fill your tank at Berry’s Store in The Forks, as there are no gas stations for 25 miles between there and Jackman. Bring a good old fashioned paper map, as data and cell phone reception is variable depending on the service provider. Finally, keep an eye out for moose on the roadside. If you are lucky enough to spot one, do not approach it.
SUGGESTED STOPS ALONG THE BYWAY
Solon and Bingham: Drive north on Route 201, which passes through two old-time villages, Solon and Bingham. Both are bounded on the west by the Kennebec River.
Wyman Lake: Just north of Bingham, in Moscow, is 13-mile-long Wyman Lake. This human-made lake was created by the dam, which is a known fishing hot spot.
Appalachian Trail: The Appalachian Trail crosses the byway at Caratunk. To cross the Kennebec River at Caratunk, hikers can use a free ferry service—by canoe— from late May to mid-October.
Kennebec and Dead Rivers: Both rivers offer thrilling whitewater rafting. Along the route, watch for deer, river otters, and eagles.
Moxie Falls: A short drive from The Forks,and less than a mile easy hike leads through the pines to the 90-foot-high Moxie Falls.
Jackman: The Jackman area is a recreational mecca. In winter, a massive network of groomed snowmobile trails crisscrosses the region. The scenic Moose River features some of the Northeast’s most popular canoeing and kayaking.
Holeb Falls: Along the Moose River, Holeb Falls features a long vertical drop into a swimming area at its base. With its mountainous backdrop, this area is known as the Switzerland of Maine.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Rest stops and way stations along Route 201 offer informational kiosks, historical markers, and scenic pullouts, such as Attean Overlook and Lake Parlin. North of Jackman, Maine, the road to the Canadian Border is again in the mountains and part of the great north woods working forest. Currently, U.S. residents cannot cross the border into Canada.
Other Visitor Resources: KennebecValley.org