You should always "begin with the end in mind", right? Right. In that spirit, let's take a look at Baxter State Park, home of the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, Mount Katahdin.
The park started in the 1930's with a donation of land to the state of Maine by Percival Baxter, the former governor. The original acreage was pretty small (though it included Katahdin), but Baxter continued to purchase land over the years and donate it to be added to the park, until finally today it totals more that 200,000 acres right in the heart of the state.
It really is a beautiful park, and it attracts lots of visitors each summer. There are quite a few places to camp (though getting a reservation is tricky!), miles and miles of hiking trails, and the park is just lousy with moose. Sure, and bears and deer and chipmunks and everything else, but there is something about seeing a moose (relatively) close up, with those huge antlers, lifting his head up out of the middle of a pond where he is feeding, that is unforgettable.
And Baxter State Park is the place to do it. I can't tell you how many times I've made the 2 and 1/2 hour drive from Bangor to the park with someone who had never seen a moose, someone who clearly didn't believe my confident "I guarantee that you will see one today!" I have never been disappointed, we have always been able to find at least one. In fact, I should have used a picture...
See? Ok, it's not the greatest picture, but it is a moose...
Anyway, the well-deserved popularity of the park makes for complications for those of us that want to hike in, climb to the peak and declare victory. We aren't the only ones trying to stay at the campground tent sites and lean-to's. I was trying to see how easy it was going to be to make a reservation, and the answer seems to be: it isn't going to be easy at all.
Oh, well. I've got a little time (and more than a few miles) before it becomes a crisis. In the meantime, you should check out the park's website; it's worth a visit.
Baxter State Park site
Update: To make up for my below-average photo, here's a link to a short Youtube video of a bull moose in the park. Bull Moose near Sandy Stream