Every summer, tourists take over the Maine coast, transforming small towns like Boothbay and Bar Harbor into bustling vacation meccas. While it’s no wonder that people are drawn to the magnificent rocky beaches and ocean views, it’s still surprising to find so much backwoods splendor that remains underappreciated by today’s Maine’s travelers.
Bob Peixotto ’77 and the non-profit Maine Huts and Trails organization hope to change all that by making Maine’s interior more accessible to the public and promoting environmentally friendly development. When the project is completed, a network of trails, huts, and waterway corridors will extend 180 miles, from Bethel to Moosehead Lake, allowing hikers, paddlers, mountain bikers, and cross country skiers the chance to explore western Maine’s most remote areas.“ The trail is absolutely gorgeous,” Bob says of the nearly forty miles already completed.
One of Maine Huts & Trails’ major objectives is to make backcountry experiences accessible to a broader spectrum of the population. Accommodations will be available year-round in twelve full-service “huts” that sleep forty people. The first hut, which opened in February at Poplar Stream Falls (see “Breaking New Ground,” page 44 for more), features hot showers and a gear drying room, and uses solar panels, a wood boiler, and composting toilets. “Reservations are starting to flood in,” says Bob. “We hope to create a system that will draw people from across the country and around the world.”
An avid skier and hiker, Bob has been involved with the outdoors his entire life. As the son of a military officer, Bob moved often before applying to Bowdoin from Kansas, where he was living at the time. “I think I got in because of geographic distribution,” he jokes. After graduating, Bob spent four years in the Army before marrying fellow Bowdoin grad Susan (Williamson) Peixotto ’79 and returning to Maine.
Bob has spent the last 25 years in management at L.L. Bean, and he joined the Board of Maine Huts & Trails, “another full-time job in itself,” five years ago. “L.L. Bean has been very supportive,” Bob says. “Fortunately, Maine Huts & Trails is very consistent with Bean’s mission of helping people enjoy the outdoors.” In fact, L.L. Bean signed on as sponsors of the second hut, due to begin construction this summer. “We have our work cut out for us,” Bob admits, “[but] while our plans are ambitious, I couldn’t believe more in the value of what we are doing.”
Originally published in Vol. 79, No. 3, Summer 2008 Bowdoin Magazine.
Posted February 01, 2008