Aroostook State Park, Echo Lake
Aroostook State Park holds the distinction as Maine’s first state park, created in 1938 with the donation of 100 acres of land from the citizens of Presque Isle. Subsequent land donations have increased the size of the park to about 800 acres today, encompassing the twin peaks of Quaggy Jo Mountain and shore frontage on Echo Lake. On the grassy shore of Echo Lake visitors will find tables and grills ready for picnicking and lots of room to relax in the sun. The lake offers delightful swimming, and there are changing rooms nearby. Boaters and fishermen can take to the water from the dock and launch area. Canoes and paddleboats can be rented, complete with life jackets and paddles. The day use area is handicapped accessible. Restrooms are nearby.
The park campground features thirty wooded sites that can accommodate either tents or camping trailers, each with a picnic table and fire ring. Pit toilets and water faucets are convenient to the sites. Hot showers and a kitchen pavilion with lights and running water are located on the camp road on the drive in, next door to the campground host. There’s even a small playground to keep the kids busy. Three miles of hiking trails strike off from the campground and lead to lookout points high on Quaggy Jo Mountain.
Not far from the park entrance is Double Eagle II Memorial Park, the launch site for the first successful trans-Atlantic balloon flight in August 1978, crossing from the United States to Miserey, France. A 40 mile-long scale model of the solar system, built at a scale of 1 mile equaling the distance from earth to sun, extends along Route 1 from between the University of Maine at Presque Isle campus and the Houlton Information Center at the junction with Interstate 95. The model includes the sun and the nine planets from Mercury to Pluto. Visit the Nordic Heritage Center, a year-round outdoor recreation facility, and its 20 miles of single-track mountain biking trails. The trails are free, and the lodge is open to the public and includes restrooms, showers and a sauna.