The word “resort” might not immediately come to mind when you see The Birches Resort (off Rte. 6/15, Rockwood, 207/534-7305, www.birches.com ), hidden down the end of a dirt road on the secluded west side of Moosehead Lake . Accommodations are rustic to say the least, consisting of a main lodge with no-frills rooms going for $85–125 a night, and a collection of cabins laid out along the lakeside, many with private porches overlooking the water ($180–330).
Nowhere else around, however, offers the range of options for enjoying the great outdoors, whether that means the on-site marina with canoes and sailboats for rent; the rafting and snowmobiling trips organized by the on-site expedition company; the miles of cross-country skiing trails, complete with their own wilderness yurts for trailside overnights; and the popular “moose cruises” on the lake.
The result is the essence of Maine —friendly and unpretentious but with everything you need to get outside. Recently, the resort added a few more-upscale house rentals ($220–480) that feature outdoor hot tubs and private beaches.
Closer to Katahdin , Big Moose Inn (Rte. 157, Millinocket, 207/723-8391, www.big  moosecabins.com) offers a good home base for those on a budget. The main inn has a dozen simple but cozy bedrooms ($53–56 pp) filled with antique photographs and wrought-iron beds. These rooms are particularly well-suited for families, as several have multiple beds (including, strangely enough, the Bridal Suite). Also on the premises are a number of rustic cabins ($49 pp) and tent and lean-to sites ($10–13 pp).
While the inn doesn’t itself arrange expeditions, it is headquarters to two white-water rafting companies, and can help arrange snowmobile delivery. The resort also has canoes for rent on a nearby lake and provides snowshoes to guests for use on its own network of trails.