BETHEL, Maine -??вЂњ The recently released book “101 Best Outdoor Towns: Unspoiled Places to Visit, Live and Play” has ranked Bethel, Maine as the only New England location in its overall top ten.
Veteran outdoor writers Sarah Tuff and Greg Melville employed a combination of census data, chamber of commerce information and their own outdoor travel experience to compile the rankings, along with a bottom line requirement of a “decent caf?В© and watering hole.”
“We really scoured the country to find authentic, small and relatively affordable towns that celebrate the outdoors, which eliminated some of the bigger or more expensive places like Telluride, Crested Butte or Boulder, Colo., and Burlington, Vt. that often end up on the lists compiled by magazines,” said co-author Sarah Tuff.
Bethel ranked #9 in the Top Ten Outdoor Towns category and also #5 in the hiking specific category, thanks in large part to the recently opened Grafton Loop Trail. Bethel is also very close to Mahoosuc Notch, which is widely held as the most difficult mile of the Appalachian Trail.
The book notes Sunday River and Bethel’s reputation as the “Greatest Ski Town in the Universe,” which was bestowed by SKI Magazine.
“My first trip to Bethel was several years ago, skiing at Sunday River. After growing up skiing the east coast, I was amazed by how expansive the ski area was, and how many great snow stashes there were everywhere. Later, when I moved to Park City, the skiing out west actually reminded me somewhat of the Bethel area! It is a quintessential outdoor town that has resisted being spoiled by development or jaded views toward the wilderness,” said Tuff.
Other attributes that are highlighted in the book include the quality fishing available on the Upper Androscoggin River, the North American Wife Carrying Championship held annually at Sunday River, and the Trek Across Maine cycling event, which starts at Sunday River and raises funds for the American Lung Association of Maine.
“Many Bostonians and New Yorkers book trips for the Rockies or California without realizing what’s right in their back yard??вЂќI was surprised by the depth and breadth of outdoor resources throughout New England,” said Tuff.
“101 Best Outdoor Towns: Unspoiled Places to Live, Work and Play” is published by the Countryman Press of Woodstock, Vt.