Writing and Renewal in Maine's North Woods

Destination: Millinocket, Maine

| Activities: Writing, Hiking, Paddling

Escape to a lakeside writing retreat in the iconic landscape of Maine’s north woods; defined by their solitude, sparkling lakes, and incredible wildlife. Spark creativity as you engage your body in the outdoors. Discover the stories you want to tell as you learn new skills, expand your comfort zone, and cultivate an awareness of the natural world. Then, with the encouragement and instruction of AGC guide and professional outdoor writer, Jenny O'Connell, craft your stories into pieces of writing you're proud of. Explore this beautiful corner of the country by foot, kayak, and raft, and return each night to comfortable green built lodges nestled amongst the pines on Millinocket Lake. All genres and writing levels are welcome! On our last night, we'll share our work out loud and celebrate together in the company of our supportive group. Maximum group size: 12


  • Be inspired by the solitude and beauty of Maine’s north woods as you hone your skills and find your voice as a writer
  • Paddle pristine waters to a destination picnic on a sandy beach accessible only by boat
  • Pick blueberries for your breakfast on the picturesque Blueberry Ledges Trail
  • Raft the mighty Penobscot in the shadow of Katahdin
  • Take a pontoon sunset wildlife cruise to look for moose and stargaze under the darkest skies east of the Mississippi

Departures and Prices

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  • 2 experienced AGC guides, one of whom is a professional writer
  • All activities on the itinerary, including the kayaking, rafting, and dinners at local restaurants
  • All meals from dinner on the first day through breakfast on the last
  • Five nights lodging in shared or single rooms
  • Transportation during the trip including round trip transfer from the Bangor, ME airport

What's not included: Travel to and from Bangor ME, alcoholic beverages, guide gratuities and travel insurance.

Trip Documents

Trip Info

This trip is for women who want to write together in community, guided by a professional, while being inspired and engaged by the natural world. While our days will be full of activities including hiking, paddling, and rafting, we will not be attempting long mileage on any of our excursions. We will also make sure that you have ample downtime to relax, cultivate an awareness of the natural world, and write. Since you always have the option to relax at the house, a 1 rating is appropriate. However, if you choose to do everything we offer, it will be more like a 2. The hikes we've chosen are reasonably short but may have short steep sections with rocks and roots, so women should be in sufficient condition to hike uphill for up to an hour. The kayaking and rafting is appropriate for beginners. A rating of 2 is suitable for any woman who regularly walks at a brisk pace 3 to 4 days a week for 35 - 45 minutes. Rating: 1[2] 3 4 5.  

Our primary activity this week is writing, but our itinerary also includes hiking, kayaking and rafting. We will have time to explore Millinocket Lake and a few classic North Woods trails, and will spend half a day whitewater rafting. This trip will often have a leisurely pace with writing time interwoven into activities. We will be hiking, rafting or paddling between 3-5 hours a day.

We'll spend the entire trip at the New England Outdoor Center (NEOC) about 1 hour north of Bangor. We will stay in 3 neighboring green-built modern lodges on the shore of Millinocket Lake. Each lodge has a full kitchen, living room with gas fireplace, sunroom, and outdoor patio. Full price spots on the trip are for a shared room with a queen or twin bed with shared bathrooms, common areas and kitchens. There are 4 single supplements available (private queen room with shared bathroom) for $300 each.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

If you are flying in, we will meet at the Bangor airport at 4PM and drive 1 hour to Millinocket and our home for the week at the New England Outdoor Center (NEOC). If you are driving you can meet us at our lodging at 5:30PM. After we get settled in we will gather for our first group meal at a local restaurant. (D)
Today we launch into our week of writing together. Most writing sessions will include creative warm-ups, craft tips, writing time to deepen our creative flow, and an opportunity to share excerpts of your work with the group. August is the month for wild blueberry picking in Maine, and we will fittingly begin our trip with a hike to Blueberry Ledges in Baxter State Park. This four mile out-and-back hike ascends gradually through a lovely birch forest and leads to a beautiful writing spot where Katahdin Stream flows gently over smooth rock ledges. Before hiking back we’ll hope to fill our pockets and packs with wild blueberries - a classic Maine experience! Upon returning to NEOC, we’ll have some downtime (perhaps a dip in the lake?), before departing on a sunset wildlife tour. The north woods are known for their moose, and we’ll try to spot one before our first full day is through. Mileage: 4 miles (B,L,D)
If our previous day was “fruitful”, we’ll start our morning with a delicious trail-to-table blueberry pancake breakfast. After a leisurely morning, we will pack lunches and head to the lake for a kayak session. Millinocket Lake is a paddler’s dream with its clear waters, undeveloped shoreline, and sweeping views of Katahdin. We’ll learn paddling skills while exploring the lake’s many islands and coves, and aim for the sandy beaches of the far shore (only accessible by boat), for a picnic on the shore. Writing will be woven into each day's schedule, with exact timing contingent upon weather and group needs. Millinocket is located close to a certified dark-sky sanctuary, and is a wonderful setting in which to stargaze and at times see the Northern Lights. After dinner we will head out on an optional night walk to look at the stars and bask in the milky way. (B,L,D)
After a hearty breakfast we’ll head out to get our hearts racing (in a good way!) with a half-day whitewater rafting trip on the lower Penobscot river with New England Outdoor Center guides. Though exciting, our trip is designed for first-time rafters. As we work together to navigate the rapids we’ll catch stunning glimpses of Katahdin, and if we’re lucky, spot local wildlife such as eagles and moose. We’ll be treated to a delicious hot lunch on the river before returning to our home base for an afternoon of reflection and writing. After dinner the camaraderie will continue around a crackling campfire. (B,L,D)
Our final hike will take place in The Nature Conservancy’s Debsconeag Lakes Wilderness Area. Debsconeag means "carrying place," and is named for the historic portage sites where native peoples carried their canoes around rapids and waterfalls. We will venture out on the Ice Caves Trail, a short but moderate hike through moss covered boulders and fern-filled forests. We’ll appreciate a blast of cool air from the ice caves, and continue on to a beautiful vista of Debsconeag lake. Upon returning to NEOC, we’ll have time to polish our writing pieces before an early final dinner at a local restaurant. After dinner we will gather one last time for a celebratory reading of our work. Mileage: 2.5 miles (B,L,D)
Our week of renewal and creativity in the great north woods has come to a close. If you are driving, you can plan to leave any time after breakfast. If you are flying, we will have you back to Bangor in time to fly out any time after 12PM. (B)


(8 reviews)
5 Food
4.8 Lodging
5 Safety

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "What made this trip special for you?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

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Carla H.
9 months ago

Activities I loved, but time and encouragement to focus on writing

Marti S.
10 months ago

The opportunity to write and learn from others. The opportunity to try Level 4 rafting rapids (without that being the focus of the trip). The community dining. Really felt you got to know everyone by the end of the trip. The location, accommodations, and variety of activities was just right.

Eve V.
10 months ago

Renewal was the correct term to use! This trip allowed me to get to know the guides and participants in a way that was extremely meaningful. Jenny and Claire together is a wonderful combination. Jenny as a writing coach - unbelievable!! Claire as a cook - superb! Their chemistry and love for each other showed. It was a beautiful week.

Alicia L.
10 months ago

The group of women, participants and guides, co created a safe, supportive, encouraging environment. This enabled intimate sharing and connections.

Carole M.
10 months ago

Our wonderful guides, who each day each brought something of joyful quality to our trip. Claire with her Haute Cuisine (even for breakfast) and quiet insight; and Jenny with her abundance of life and energy, her kindness and patience.

Maryjane L.
10 months ago

It was an amazing location with a great balance of moderate activity. I was fully prepared to ignore the writing, but surprisingly enjoyed that.

Juluia L.
10 months ago

Charlene F.
10 months ago

This was an excellent trip, the perfect combination of physical activities and writing, in a beautiful setting. Jenny and Claire worked together seamlessly. Best combination of guides I have experienced on an AGC trip.

  1. Is this trip suitable for all levels of writers?

    Absolutely! If you are already a writer, love to write, or are intrigued to try something new, this trip will cater to all levels with a supportive group and inspiring environment
    1. I have never kayaked before, is this the right trip for me?

      This is the perfect trip for new kayakers. There will be instruction on safety and basic kayaking strokes. The guides are experienced kayak instructors and will teach you everything you need to know.
    2. Where do we eat?

      The guides will be cooking breakfasts and most dinners in our shared lodges. Before you leave in the morning the guides will put out lunch 'fixings' and you will take a packed lunch. You will also have two dinners in local restaurants.
    3. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

      We can accommodate vegetarian, lactose-free, and gluten-intolerant if we know well in advance. We cannot guarantee a completely gluten-free diet and we cannot provide a kitchen guaranteed to be free of cross-contamination. If you’re severely allergic or if you have other significant dietary restrictions, please call the office before you register. If you’re vegan, you may want to bring some additional protein bars.
    4. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

      No. If you prefer to share a room and the option is still available, please choose it when you register. There is a discount for sharing a twin room. Otherwise rooms assignments are done by lottery.