Jackman, Maine, is known for its scenic beauty, outdoor recreation, and four robust seasons of fun. In winter, Jackman is nicknamed “The Switzerland of Maine.”
In the spirit of transparency, visiting Jackman requires a deep understanding of its inherent nature. It’s remote at the north end of the Kennebec Valley. Jackman is a great place to unplug. It’s so great, in fact, that plugging back in might be a challenge.
It’s a place where Facebook pages replace websites and the best pizza is found at a store where you can also rent a snowmobile and buy a pair of socks.
This article has three times more words than Jackman has year-round residents.
On the other hand, you have abundant outdoor activities no matter the season or the wind chill. Jackman sits on Wood Pond and the Moose River. Canada is just 16 miles away, and Quebec City is an easy two-hour drive.
And the answer to the eternal Maine tourist question of “Where can I see a moose?” is Jackman and the surrounding region.
If that sounds like your type of outdoor adventure, let’s get into it.
About the Moose River Valley
The Moose River Valley, where Jackman sits, was originally home to the Penobscot and Abenaki tribes. They called the area “Mooseleukus,” meaning “Moose Horn,” because there were THAT MANY moose around.
European settlers arrived in the 1820s, drawn by the potential for logging and farming. James Jackman, the future namesake of the town, played a pivotal role in constructing the Canada Road, connecting Maine to the Canadian border.
That was the same path Benedict Arnold took with his expedition on the way to capture Quebec City during the American Revolution. (FYI – He didn’t capture the city, but it did show the world that the United States was a brazen challenger.)
The Canadian Pacific Railway reached Jackman in 1888, transforming Jackman into a logging boomtown. All that logging came with an environmental cost, causing the industry to decline during the mid-20th Century. Now, it’s a destination for true off-the-grid outdoor lovers.
Things to Know About Jackman Maine
It will help you a lot to understand some of the nuances of this remote area. (Did I mention it’s remote?)
First, as a logging area, there are logging roads. These are rough, grooved, treacherous roads, usually nowhere near a mobile phone signal. Can you drive on them? Yep. However, only during summer and fall. Winter has too much snow even to consider navigating them, and spring can bring mud by the foot.
It’s important to know that logging trucks always have priority and will not stop or slow down for you. Ever.
Second, Maine doesn’t really have a distinction between a pond and a lake. A small body of water might be named a lake, while a large body of water could be a pond.
Third, take those moose crossing signs seriously. Moose are too tall to have their eyes reflected in headlights and love to cross the street around dusk and dawn. As recently as the summer of 2023, a moose was killed when it was hit by a car near Jackman.
Fourth, most of the wilderness land here is privately owned, but public access is allowed. Sometimes, you might need the landowner’s permission to use it. Respect it as if were your own.
Finally, bug populations in Somerset County are sometimes beyond comprehension, especially when it’s hot and humid. Black flies, biting water bugs, and mosquitoes can make you miserable if you’re unprepared. The good news is that Maine has no venomous snakes.
What’s the Weather Like?
Let’s start with summer. The hottest average high is 76° F in July. June through August will have highs in the 70s with lows near 50° F.
Fall foliage season kicks off in Somerset County, with peak season around mid-October. Expect highs in the 50s and lows around freezing that time of year.
By December, it’s common that Jackman won’t get above freezing again until March. Highs are in the 20s, and lows go down to -1° F. That’s on average and BEFORE the wind chill is factored in. Temperatures can drop to as low as -35° F.
About nine feet of snow falls in an average year, but the past decade has seen anywhere from 80 to 113 inches. The wettest months are June and July, each getting up to five inches of rain.
Outdoor Things to Do
If Walt Disney built a place for outdoor activities like hunting, fishing, paddling, and hiking, it would look exactly like Jackman and surrounding Somerset County.
While there is a hunting season for moose, many outfitters provide guided tours to the places most likely to see a moose. In fact, Moose Alley is the nickname for Route 201 from Jackman up to the Canadian border.
The best months to see a moose in the Jackman area are May, June, July, September and October. They are most aggressive (which isn’t all that aggressive, to be honest) in the fall during the rut.
However, you should always stay at least 25 yards from a moose or slowly back away if they notice you are there.
From here, we’re going to tackle Jackman by the seasons.
Winter in Jackman
Any snow that falls in December will likely still be there until March, when the temperatures get above freezing. That opens the door to so many winter activities. Jackman proudly boasts, “We are the first to get it (snow) and the last to lose it!”
Since there are several lakes and ponds around Jackman, not to mention the massive Moosehead Lake just 30 minutes east, ice fishing brings hundreds of anglers to the region.
Lakes usually have ice at least a foot deep by January. The season runs through March.
Many outfitters offer excursions here if you haven’t been ice fishing before. Warm, covered rentals are available on the ice as well.
Snowmobiling is a way of life in Maine’s winters. The state has an Interconnected Trail System (ITS), but the local snowmobile club is the best place to start. Here are some resources to learn more about rentals, trail conditions, and locations.
TRAVEL TIP: When choosing a place to stay in Jackman, some cabin rentals have access to snowmobiles, skis, or snowshoes. This is a great way to save money.
For a more laid-back adventure, consider snowshoeing. Jackman has trails ranging from easy to challenging. For the safest adventure, ask in town where the best options are during your visit. Remember that some winter trails will have you walk over a lake or pond.
Spring in Jackman Maine
Spring is a tough time for tourists in this part of the state, especially if you don’t like getting muddy. In fact, it’s usually referred to as “Mud Season.” Snowmobile trails shut down once the snow melts enough, and they won’t be open to ATVs until after Mud Season. That season is usually late March through April. Again, ask locally what trails are suitable for exploring.
One of the best spring activities is Maple Syrup Sunday. While it’s a statewide activity, Jackman really shines in this sweet treat. Somerset County produces more maple syrup than any other county in the country.
Maple producers open their doors on the fourth Sunday of March annually. However, Arnold Farm Sugarhouse wants you to know you can stop by anytime. If the owner is around, he’ll give you a tour.
LOCAL LINGO: One of the hallmarks of spring arriving in Maine is the “Ice Out” date. That’s when the ice on local lakes and ponds thaws and breaks enough to take a boat across.
Spring also brings waterfall season, when falls are at their most robust due to the runoff. If you’re driving from Portland, don’t miss Moxie Falls, which is about 28 miles south of Jackman in The Forks.
Some of the best waterfalls near Jackman are:
- Slide Down Falls
- Heald Stream Falls
- Jim Mack Falls (easy access from Route 201 on the way to Canada)
Summer in Jackman
Quite frankly, there are a dizzying number of things to do in Jackman in the summer.
Jackman sits along the 700-mile North Forest Canoe Trail, with an extra 34-mile section for the Moose River Bow Trip. Moose River to Long Pond and Sandy Stream are two more popular canoe routes. Of course, any canoe route can be done via kayak.
Canoe/kayak season runs from late May through mid-October. You can plan an overnight trip or make a full week’s adventure out of it at wilderness campsites along the way.
If you want to ride the raucous waterways of Maine, you’re in the right place. You can whitewater raft the Kennebec River, Dead River, or Penobscot River. Look for outfitters like Northern Outdoors to help you plan a trip that suits your skill level.
CANOE PLANNING: Since most canoe trips are one-way, you must arrange a shuttle to return to your starting point.
Hiking options are sprinkled across this region, and many have stellar views. You have several choices of modest mountains, like Burnt Jacket, Owls Head, and Sally Mountain. I highly recommend taking the 30-minute drive east to Rockwood and taking the ferry to Mount Kineo State Park.
BERRY GOOD HIKING TIP: Maine’s wild blueberries are abundant in this region, with peak season in late summer. You’ll see them all over the trails. Feel free to bring a bag and pick some for yourself.
By summer, ATV trails and mountain biking options abound. Most ATV trails are the same as the winter snowmobiling trails.
Summer in Jackman, Maine, casts a fisherman’s spell. Reel in trophy lake trout, splake, and salmon on shimmering waters like Moosehead and Attean. Cast from pristine shores or troll cool river bends teeming with brookies. Be sure to buy a fishing license beforehand.
Fall in Jackman Maine
Some of the best leaf-peeping in the state awaits in Jackman. One of the best ways to enjoy the view is leisurely driving on the Old Canada Road, a designated National Scenic Byway.
The hiking trails are open well into November, giving you scenic viewpoints of the fall colors all the way to Canada.
Jackman hosts an annual Fall Festival in late October.
This is also when hunting season begins, but check the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife before solidifying plans. Some options, like moose hunting, are done only by lottery. Plus, safety training is required before getting a Maine hunting license.
Indoor Things to Do
Well, they do really do indoors here except to eat and sleep. I mean, you could stop by City Hall and say hello?
In all seriousness, Jackman doesn’t have museums or indoor attractions. If it did, it’s likely nobody would visit with so much outdoor stuff to do.
You can find some museums and places of interest indoors an hour away in Greenville.
Restaurants in Jackman
We will give you the best restaurants in Jackman to fuel your adventures. Honestly, we’re going to give you all the restaurants in Jackman because there aren’t that many. None of the dining options has a website, so don’t look. We’ve included links to their Facebook pages.
This family-owned restaurant serves classic comfort foods for lunch and dinner. Ample appetizers whet your appetite for a big burger or a slab of prime rib. Be sure to try the poutine, a Maine Acadian class, which is french fries sprinkled with cheese curds and covered in gravy.
This isn’t the Four Seasons you’d think of first but in all the right ways. Heaping portions of salad, sandwiches, steaks, and pizzas round out the menu but don’t forget the assortment of pies. The Four Seasons is also great for a drink, with frozen delights and Maine beers on tap.
You know a place serves the outdoor crowd when breakfast starts at 4:00 am. While they tout the best breakfast in town, lunch also looks good. Be sure to try anything with blueberry, as the Maine wild blueberry is scrumptious in any form.
Three meals a day are served at Tapps, and breakfast comes in a buffet. The menu changes daily, with specials posted on Facebook. The menu prices are about the best I’ve seen across the state.
It’s not a restaurant. It’s not a store. It’s not a gas station. It’s all of the above. Bishop’s is known to have the best pizza in town, a specialty called “Wicked Pizzahs.” You can also pick up outdoor clothing necessities here while chowing down on breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Where to Stay
Places to stay in Jackman range from adventure lodging, where you get lake, river, or fishing tours for the price, to traditional hotels and even remote cabins alongside the trails.
As a triple-dog dare to find a more remote location than Jackman, there’s Attean Lake Lodge. It sits on an island in the middle of Attean Lake. Forget about things like electricity and cell service. You’ll have solar power and 24 acres to relax and enjoy the surrounding wilderness.
Now run by fourth-generation owners, this is truly an escape to nature unlike anything else in Maine.
This motel is right across from Bishop’s Store and offers comfortable budget accommodations with Wi-Fi. Every reservation comes with a free continental breakfast. It’s AAA-approved and right in the heart of Jackman.
With rooms or cabins available, you get immediate access to trails and can relax at the indoor pool or hot tub after a long day. Each room or cabin has a cozy, rustic vibe. Enjoy the common area with a fireplace and pool table.
Cozy Cove offers the closest rooms to the water without being on a houseboat. Nine cabins dot the shoreline of Big Wood Lake. Each cabin offers something different, with options for two to six people. Boats, canoes, and kayaks are waiting at the shore for you. All cabins have a view of Sally Mountain.
A series of cabins on Big Wood Pond’s connection to the Moose River makes this a perfect place for anglers. A campground is also available if you’d rather rough it and sleep under the pristine night skies. You’ll have easy access to all the seasonal trails.
Large groups will love this log cabin that sleeps up to 10 people. Enjoy views of the Moose River from the second-floor sitting room or warm up by the fireplace. As a bonus, a heated mudroom makes switching from outdoor clothing to indoor comfort clothes easy without bringing the mess inside.
Long Pond Camps & Guide Service is just outside of town and offers hunting packages, wildlife tours, trail tours, and fishing guides. They’ve been doing this for nearly half a century and can’t wait to help you plan the outdoor trip of your dreams. Located near Long Pond, you’ll have your own firepit and watercraft available to use.
Jackman Maine FAQs
How easy is it to get to Canada from Jackman?
You’ll need a passport and all the same documentation as any international trip, even though you’re only driving 16 miles. Be aware that the same border crossing rules apply to snowmobiles as vehicles.
How do you pack for a Jackman winter?
There’s an old Norwegian saying Mainers love to repeat – there is no bad weather, just bad clothing. The typical winter coat and gloves won’t cut it here. You need base layers, insulated middle layers, and waterproof outside layers.
Here’s some help from Maine company L.L. Bean.
How do I prepare for the bugs in the woods?
We turn to our friends at Northern Outdoors for some sage advice on this one. You’ll definitely need mosquito netting to cover your face in the thick wooded areas. Bug spray will only go so far, so plan to wear long sleeves and pants. Plus, you’ll deal with ticks in the Maine Woods, so have a tick-removal kit with you.
Is Jackman, Maine, really that remote?
Yes. We cannot stress this enough. For example, the closest Walmart is in Canada.
Are You Ready to Explore Jackman?
Jackman is one Maine city that has resisted any temptation to grow and develop land. It’s never going to be a major resort town. The private landowners have been here for generations.
Don’t let Jackman’s rouge nature intimidate you. Guides are available for any activity; they know these woods and waters like the back of their hands. They welcome tourists and only ask that you accept the region for what it offers, not what it lacks. Isn’t that why you wanted to come here anyway – so you could escape it all?
Jackman delivers that and so much more in an authentic outdoor Maine experience. Is that a moose around the corner?