5 ways to enjoy the Maine outdoors close to home

women holding sketchbook with poorly drawn animals on it

Look, you don’t need to convince me. Being outside is THE BEST. And normally, I’d be the first to encourage you to tackle some thrilling new adventure in a far-flung part of the state. Heck, if it requires a helmet, a harness, or a punny team name, even better. But for now, those grand experiences have been put on hold.

I know we’re all eager to get back to the big hikes in the whites, the surf lessons and group runs and long camping weekends. And we will.

In the meantime, I vote we have some epic adventures really close to our houses!

Now I realize that, at first glance, your backyard might not seem as cool as Baxter State Park. But we can still entertain ourselves pretty well if we’re game to get a little creative.

5 ways to enjoy the outdoors close to home

1. Become a backyard naturalist

Make a study of the birds, flowers, bugs, and other wildlife in your own backyard. Stare up into the trees, turn over some logs.There are great websites and apps that’ll help you identify all the things you find. And you’ll likely learn some supremely interesting things in the process. (Seriously, google dragonfly reproduction. You will not be disappointed.) Field journals can also be a great way to record all the wonders you discover.

2. Go watch the sunrise

Stare at the full moon. Or sit by a pond at dusk and listen to the peepers. Waking up early or staying up late to stare at the sky and listen to the sounds of nature is such a cool and, frankly, calming experience. Plus, getting outside at off-peak hours means you’re less likely to run into other people, which is great for social distancing and for folks who generally dislike interacting with others. You can just sit and be. And really, how often do we get to do that?

3. Go on a neighborhood scavenger hunt

Liven up your usual jaunt around the neighborhood by hunting down interesting things. For example, you could see how many funky colored doors you can find. My neighborhood has a lot.

Some neighborhoods are posting pictures of bears or rainbows in the windows for kids to find, but any one, adults included, can get in on the hunting. I recently found a bunch of rocks that look like they’re making sad faces.

That probably says something about me. You know, emotionally.

4. Explore a local trail

Thanks to the work of many towns and land trusts, most of us have access to great trails right up the road. Those trails often get skipped in favor of higher peaks and more challenging terrain, but now is a great time to explore those nearby spots.

Heads up, though: some trail systems are closed, so check ahead to make sure your local trails are open. Also: steer clear of locations that are already busy, and, of course, keep that physical distance between you and anyone else you might encounter on the trail. And yea, you can act like a spy if you want.

5. Bring the outside in

Recreate your favorite outdoor activity indoors. Go fishing in your kitchen, skiing on your couch, and kayaking in your bathtub. True, it won’t feel exactly like the real thing, but goofing off like that can be pretty entertaining in its own right.

We’ll be back to our big adventures eventually. For now, we can appreciate the wonders right outside our windows. And maybe become champions of the thrilling news sport of indoor hiking.

Here are 5 ways to enjoy the outdoors close to home, including but not limited to:

Watching a sunrise, making a sunrise, googling ‘dragonfly reproduction,’ pretending you’re a stealth forest spy, paddleboarding on your driveway, staring at birds and fungus in your backyard, and becoming a champion of the thrilling new sport of indoor hiking.

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