Norway & South Paris
Norway and South Paris, in the heart of the Oxford Hills Region, have become an off-the-beaten track Mecca for arts, dance, theater and music. And with its unspoiled mountains, lakes and streams, it is a hidden gem in Western Maine.
The region has Nordic and alpine ski trails, hundreds of miles of groomed snowmobile trails, hiking and biking paths as well as hunting and fishing opportunities.
It also boasts gemstone quarries that have earned the area the name, "Gemstone Capital of Maine” for the semi-precious gems and rare minerals such as beryl, garnet, tourmaline, amethyst and smoky quartz that can be found there.
There are more than 10 lakes and ponds within a short drive including Lake Pennesseewassee – also known as Norway Lake - that has swimming, fishing, boating, sailing in the summer and cross-country skiing, ice fishing and snowmobiling in the winter. Roberts Preserve, which is managed by the Western Foothills Land Trust, overlooks Lake Pennesseewassee and has easy access to the town's historic Main Street and Pennesseewassee Park, formerly a state park, that has a public boat ramp, playground, and other recreation facilities.
The Little Androscoggin River runs through South Paris where you can paddle down the waterway or take a thrilling rafting trip through the more turbulent sections.
Hike up area mountains to see vistas of distant Mount Washington and the Presidential Range, walk through Ordway Grove in Norway to see ancient oaks and pines and through wildlife-rich Witt Swamp.
In Paris, visit the Cornwall Nature Preserve. In South Paris, the Roberts Farm Preserve is part of the Western Foothills Land Trust with trails for hiking, biking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.
Snow Falls Gorge off Route 26 in South Paris, where a bridge crosses the gorge and the 25-foot falls, offers scenic views and trails for hiking and a shaded spot for picnicking.
Other key attractions in the region are the Oxford Plains Speedway in nearby Oxford, which is not only a race track but a venue for major concerts; the McLaughlin Garden and Horticultural Center in South Paris has two acres of gardens and offers a lecture series; and the Celebration Barn Theater in South Paris - an internationally-known school for physical theater that attracts touring artists, actors, dancers, mimes, jugglers, storytellers.
In Norway, a bustling Main Street is characterized by unique, locally-owned shops, restaurants, and other businesses housed in architecturally-significant buildings that date from the early 1900s.
The town is also the cultural center of the Oxford Hills Area. There is the annual three-day Norway Arts Festival every July that features over 120 artists; the town is home to the non-profit Art Moves Dance Project that brings dance instruction and performances to the community and to schools; the Oxford Hills Music and Performing Arts Center; and the Western Maine Art Group that provides resources for artists to exhibit and market their work and art classes for the community.
Norway also has the historic Schoolhouse Gallery, the Frost Farm Gallery and the Fare Share Commons (“The Commons”), a center that offers community talks, art shows and hosts events.