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Big travel project I'm TRYING to plan for late summer. One difficulty here is my eagerness to get where I'm going as quickly as I can. I hate stopping for breaks. BUT... I'm also thinking about filling in a little more of my eBird map, if only a little here and there. Been thinking that I can always eBird(make checklists) at gas stations and rest areas but, I'm also going to be studying hotspot maps for good locations that will be NEAR the highways I'll travel to really look for some good stuff on a couple breaks.  My current plan is to eBird any time I stop BUT, to purposely stop every other state I go through on the way there, then the opposite states on the way back. So there's the travel eBirding I hope to do and then, planning for my visit up there. LOTS involved here.
If people have suggestions for places I NEED to visit, please let me know. It will be late August, I believe, so I don't have to worry about stopping for warbler migration as far as I know. But any rarities that are common in locations close enough to my travel route, I NEED to go ahead and find those. ?

Will study hotspot maps and hope for suggestions before settling on a route. Options pretty much all include traveling 44 across MO and then 70 across Illinois, Indiana, and into Ohio. Then in Ohio the options are to head north all the way to 90 and take that across NY into MA, or head up to 80 and head across northern PA... or, 70 to 76 across lower PA. That route takes the longest and has some tolls for sure but has a really cool, long tunnel to go through. Tolls on 90 through NY and MA make it expensive, a bit... 80 is THE cheapest way to go. Google always suggests 90 these days because there's far less traffic going that way, it's a smoother ride and can get you there faster even though it's more miles.
Here are some maps showing possible routes. Alternatively we could go further south and hit some more states I normally wouldn't see but that would add more and more time. If there are MUST see birds in another direction, I might have to consider other options. ?
70 to 90: Fastest, smoothest ride, lots of tolls. (don't have EZPass so, MA will mail me a bill apparently.)


70 to 80: Shortest, fewest tolls. Sometimes(all the time) lots of construction. Higher altitudes for PA

70 to 76: Tolls, LONGER drive usually, fun tunnel to pass through.

Do you need passports to go visit Canada for an hour? That sure would be fun to add to me eBird data, not to mention there might be some interesting birds up there. ?


Once we're there we'll need to make some plans as well. I have to study some bar charts and such and TRY to make a plan as to what I need to look for. There are a few warbler species I'd still love to get looks at. LOTS of ocean/shore birds I could use. We'll be in New England just under 2 weeks and, well it's not a birding trip, it's a family vacation where we're going to visit our family. So, I can't go nuts birding ?   I think we'll likely visit Parker River NWR on Plum Island as we have in the past. It should offer a few good birds as well as offer some swimming/beach time for the kids that aren't so interested in that. That's tough to plan because I'm a bit of a helicopter parent and, it's difficult to go off birding all over and leaving some of the younger kids behind sometimes. I'll figure something out. I will have to watch the rare bird alerts and chase anything that comes up, of course. If that little egret is still up in Maine by mid/late August we'll go searching. We briefly searched another year, when it was still there, but missed it.

I'm not sure how much  birding I'll get to do. I NEED to make sure I hang out at my mom's neighbor's house some, as they have a pool... ?  One year we visited, we were over there almost every day. HA.  Anyway, if anyone has suggestions for stop along the trip, or MUST SEE spots in New England, please let me know. I will also TRY to get a list of possible needs for that area, and focus on what's around in August and see what might be chase-able.  It's kind of hard to plan these things sometimes, especially with a wife that doesn't like birding, and 5 kids. But I think we can work something out that everyone will enjoy.

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Forget Canada... I just did some searching on what that would entail. Seems it's easier to get into Canada but getting back to the US, even an hour later... ugh... The required papers I'd need would cost way too much for our family of 7. We're just too poor... ?   

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That time of year I don’t know how much success you will have in the inland states, as landbird migration isn’t in full swing yet. That being said, you should find excellent shorebirding on the coast, particularly around NY and MA. If there’s one spot you have to go, it’s Race Point Beach in MA. It should be excellent in August. I’ve had Little Gull, Roseate Tern, kittiwake, Shearwaters, etc from the beach there. 

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hmm, thanks.  I bet there are birds I haven't seen, somewhere in the states I'll be passing through. I may do some quick searches on eBird for whole states and bar charts, then scan for good hotspots along the route and check the bar charts as well and see if anything stands out.  We'll see. If I was more ambitious here I'd deep dive and really dig up every possibility. 

Last time I checked, if I remember correctly, Race Point Beach is a bit of a drive from where my mom lives. I think I'd only make that drive if I had something else to do there, like a free hotel room or something... HA..  I'll keep it in mind.  So far I think Plum Island will be visited, we'll see. I'll watch those rare bird reports. I doubt the curlew sandpiper will still be around. And I can only hope the little egret will still be up in Maine.

There are a LOT of shorebirds(many I couldn't ID right away) that we still need for our life lists. But I think if I had to pick one to hunt down it would be an oystercatcher.  I should check with my daughter and see what she might want to go find. Wish I had my own boat and lots of time as razorbills would be fun to find as well. ?  SO many birds... so little time.


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You should be able to find oystercatcher without much difficulty. I believe that Little Egret is ridiculously reliable throughout the summer months, so that is definitely a possibility. I remember it was present when I visited Maine three years ago, but I didn’t look as I had seen a Little Egret in North Carolina that same spring.

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A few years ago when I tried planning something like this, I had a couple individuals try and help find me spots to visit.  Stinks that the forums aren't organized they way they were and that attendance is SO down... 

I plan on updating this topic several times(perhaps several times today...)  Some things I think I will figure out all on my own. Other things, I hope I can find people in specific areas for good advice.  Especially for stops along the travel path.  I found one spot in NY that is RIGHT next to I-90 and seems to all but guarantee some common gallinules, among some other good possibilities. I think it's going to be a good trip as long as I keep on stressing the planning ahead of time. :)  and :(  ha......  

Anyone here familiar with the St Louis area?  One bird in particular I want to see(have seen in Illinois another trip) is the eurasian tree sparrow.  Part of this planning is to make sure I get eBird lists in all the states I pass through. I don't know if I have any old checklists in MO, will have to search my notebooks one of these days... 
MOST of the "common" birds in MO I will be able to find in other parts of the trip a bit easier so I don't think there's any real "needs" in MO but, I do "need" to make a list there somewhere. So, why not have that be my tree sparrow stop? :) 
Attached is a map of the ST Louis area. The red scribbles show where I'll be coming into the area on 44 and where I'll be leaving the area on 70 over in IL.  The blue is the area that is probably not TOO far off the path... the red line to the right side is an alternate route around St Louis that I could take.
Lots of good hotspots in that area but... are any of them REALLY reliable for tree sparrows? Or anything that stands out as a "You NEED to go there.?"   

I'm sure I'll be back with more questions and such but for now...  need help planning my pass through that area.


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If you want to see some boreal birds, Moose Bog (Wenlock Wildlife Management Area) and the surrounding WMAs in northeastern Vermont are probably the closest places to MA to find them.  I don't know how far you are willing to travel or if you've been there before, but I thought I'd suggest it anyway.  I don't travel outside of Vermont very often, so I don't know much about the other states you are planning on visiting.

Edited by The Bird Nuts
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43 minutes ago, The Bird Nuts said:

If you want to see some boreal birds, Moose Bog (Wenlock Wildlife Management Area) and the surrounding WMAs in northeastern Vermont are probably the closest places to MA to find them.

I'm not quite sure what qualifies as "boreal" birds as many of them that are found in those areas are found elsewhere. I have a lot to learn about habitat specifics and such. Pardon my ignorance on that.  Looks like a little over 3 hours from my mom's house though. I think IF I look into a trip like that I'll have to plan an actual camping trip nearby to justify driving that far. Wouldn't want to drive that far, see a few birds, then turn around and drive back. 
I might look at what birds are common there and see where else they might be found that might be closer and then decide if it's something I need to look into. So far I only see a SMALL handful of "needs" on their charts for August there but, those few look worth the drive.
Here's the bar chart for that spot, limited to August.


And these are the birds that have been seen there(most of them frequently it seems) that I'd LOVE to see...

Ruffed Grouse
Spruce Grouse
Black-backed woodpecker
Boreal Chickadee
White-winged Crossbill
Bay-breasted warbler
Black-throated Blue warbler

I heard a black-throated blue in my yard here in AR this spring but never saw it. :(  Every one of those are birds my daughter and I would LOVE to see. So I will definitely keep this in mind. So as to not drive my family crazy I'll only make a couple of actual birding trips while up there but something like that might be worth it. One year we camped up in Maine so we could go on a puffin tour one day. 
Though if I go to Vermont, will I be able to justify a trip to Maine as well if the little egret is still around that late???  I guess we'll see.

Perhaps I can find some of the members here to act as guides???  :)  I love exploring on my own but when searching for specific stuff, it's always better to have someone familiar with a location show a person around. 

So far this has the potential to be a good trip. Thinking about the few locations I'm looking at so far I think we'll be able to add at least a dozen life birds. We'll see though. Maybe we can cram a bit more than that into just a few outings.

I really, REALLY hate driving to Massachusetts when we go but the birding stuff might help that be far more tolerable.  HA

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I hope I don't go overboard with this planning. Now I'm looking at driving home a LONGER way, heading from MA...  going down through Rhode Island, Connecticut, NY and NJ, Delaware, Maryland, skirting the edges of DC, Virginia, west virginia, tennessee... 

One of the roads in the DC area, actually a few spots, are RED on google maps... should I be scared?  Should I try to pass through THAT many places and add a few hours to my drive? 9 or so hours of driving EVERY day for three days not counting the stops for birding?  hmmm...  Some of those places I can just do 15 minute pit stop birding. So that shouldn't be a huge burden.

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If you decide to go home thru NJ and DE... I will offer some suggestions. While migration will have started by late August... it will not be that great yet. Let us know your final route decision home and if I do not respond, send me a message.

I will tell you to avoid I-95 through DC-VA area at all costs... ALWAYS traffic nightmare. If you have the time, I would recommend taking the coastal route from DE via Cheesapeake Bay/Bridge Tunnel(toll) into Norfolk VA area... only if you have the time. 

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Certainly agree with the above comments regarding traffic around DC. Not. Worth. It. 

In terms of those birds you mentioned: 

1. Ruffed Grouse- certainly doable, drive the backroads in upstate NY and Vermont. I had 20+ on my trip to the NE, although most of those were in Maine

2. Spruce Grouse- seeing as how they’re a huge hoax and simply do not exist, I don’t think you’ll see one. No, but seriously, Moose Bog in Vermont is the place to go, despite me striking out hard there. Bring bug spray 

3. Black-backed Woodpecker- tough but doable. Bloomingdale Blog in upstate NY is reliable. I missed them officially, but likely had brief looks at one there. I didn’t officially get that bird until WA state last year 

4. Boreal Chickadee- not hard at Bloomingdale Bog and probably several other spots in NY and VT

5. White-winged Crossbill- good luck. Notoriously sporadic and unreliable, especially in the NE. I believe you essentially have to run into them 

6. Bay-breasted Warbler- one of the tougher breeding warblers up there, and won’t be singing in August. Very unlikely, but not out of the question 

7. Black-throated Blue Warbler- should be very common in forested habitats up there. Hell, even Central Park is a solid spot for them

Other possible goodies up there would be Olive-sided Flycatcher, Canada Jay, Northern Goshawk, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Mourning Warbler, and if you want to make the drive to NH, Bicknell’s Thrush. 

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2 hours ago, birdbrain22 said:

If you decide to go home thru NJ and DE... I will offer some suggestions.

I'm still thinking on the route.  So far I think I'll hit one or two spots on the way to Mass...   we'll see. Goose Pond in Indiana looks like a good spot for several birds including black-necked stilts, something my daughter still needs. It's a little off the route but not too far and so far looks like it could be a great spot.  Then Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge right at i-90 in New York looks like a MUST see for some common gallinules and more. I can't do tooooooo many REAL birding stops as it's a family vacation and I can't be cruel to all the non-birders.(especially my wife)
Then in New England I'll plan just a couple of actual events like a trip to plum island and perhaps(if it's a good spot) the spot mentioned in VT.  At some point I'll likely look at individual species and compare where they might be found.

All that to say... by the time we're headed home I don't know how serious I'm going to be. I want to hit lots of spots partially to fill in my eBird map. Real important right? HA. 
It will be about the 30th of August, I think, when I'd be passing through the NJ area. My plan is mostly to just stop at decent hotspots that are CLOSE to the main routes to be able to go in, do some decent counting, and get on my way.
BUT...  IF you can think of some must see birds that wont be too far out of the way or take hours to find, I'd love to hear about them. There's only a few migratory warblers that would be lifers for me, I think, so migration not being in full swing isn't a huge issue. Anything reliable and is interesting enough compared to what I might normally find in Arkansas, or every day backyard birds of Massachusetts, then it might be worth a stop somewhere.
I hope all that rambling made sense.

2 hours ago, birdbrain22 said:

I will tell you to avoid I-95 through DC-VA area at all costs...

IF I pass through the DC area it would be on the outskirts somewhere and not through the middle. The idea of filling in yet another spot on the map is my main motivation but if it will be THAT bad, I can avoid it. When I mentioned DC to my wife she got excited. Then I told her I didn't plan on visiting the sites. Saw them all summer after 8th grade... it's a bunch of interesting buildings, yay.  ha...  anyway, not worth all the headache of going through a very busy city.... at least not to me.

2 hours ago, birdbrain22 said:

If you have the time, I would recommend taking the coastal route from DE via Cheesapeake Bay/Bridge Tunnel(toll) into Norfolk VA area... only if you have the time.

I'll take a look at that and consider how much time that would add. If it doesn't add much time for driving and any stops could be short(by birding standards) it could be fun. But it's a long enough drive already, I really don't want to go overboard.

1 hour ago, blackburnian said:

In terms of those birds you mentioned:

I only mentioned ones I saw on the list for the location mentioned in VT. Those would all be great birds but I don't quite have a list of "this is what I want to see on the trip." 


1 hour ago, blackburnian said:

2. Spruce Grouse- seeing as how they’re a huge hoax and simply do not exist, I don’t think you’ll see one. No, but seriously, Moose Bog in Vermont is the place to go, despite me striking out hard there. Bring bug spray 

HA... well the bar charts for that location look good.

I wont be birding much of NY, just anything close to my path on I-90 through the state. So far I have one good stop planned and I might not stray from that. Upstate, way upstate, is probably out. That's 5 hours or more from my mom's place.
VT, NH, and parts of ME are all open possibilities as long as I don't try to plan multiple trips. I'll likely plan one overnight somewhere up there and just pick a place that has the most potential for some interesting stuff.
Canada Jay would be awesome... almost wish you didn't bring up the place in NY.  HA.

A goshawk would be cool. And a bicknell's thrush? Depending on where in NH that might be doable.
I'll slowly be comparing hotspots and just birds in general and look for where I can find the most new and exciting stuff in the fewest trips. I'll be in the northeast ALMOST 2 weeks but can't spend more than a few days of that actually birding. Got a wife and kids and then the rest of my family, and my wife's, that will want to spend time with us. My oldest daughter would LOVE filling in her life list but we'll just do our best with the time we have.


anyone able to send a few birds to my location while I'm there? Some other woodpeckers we don't get here? perhaps a snowy or great gray owl? or... or...  man the list is long.

maybe I'll win the publisher's clearinghouse some day and can afford to travel more. A guy can dream right?

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moose bog is looking even better so far. How did I scan past canada jay on that list?  I think I might be trying to plan this trip without telling my daughter the birds we'll be after. Some places we pass through(states) I'll just pick a random stop and not care what birds I get. 
When we take the most direct route, without birding, it's somewhere around a 24 hour drive.  Add in detours, bathroom breaks(there's 7 of us), etc... it adds up to extra hours quickly.

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56 minutes ago, The Bird Nuts said:

the Canada Jays, Black-capped Chickadees, and Red-breasted Nuthatches can all be hand-fed there.

?  If I can keep that a secret from my daughter, and the fact that there'd be canada jays in the first place... she'd go nuts. 
Recommendations for food?  Sunflower seeds in or out of the shell? peanuts? 


Anyone on here from Indiana and perhaps know Goose pond? It's a little off my trip but looks like it could be worth a stop. The problem is knowing exactly where to go. There's a PILE of hotspots all in the same location... But the one that has THE most birds listed is the one that is labeled suggesting people to use other hotspots. HA

This is the actual name of the hotspot:

Goose Pond FWA (Please consider using a more specific location.)

The birds listed there make me think I need to go ahead and go off the highway a bit...  hmmm... maybe... maybe not. The list looks awesome but, it's literally an hour from the highway I'll be on... an our off, an hour back on... that's 2 hours added to the trip not counting time to bird. I may have to skip that one even though something like black-necked stilts would be great.
Stopping, even just a little, in each state is going to add a significant amount of time already. To add 2+ more hours...  hmmm... not sure I should do that.


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I'll have to explore what birds are seen there and see how many of them are NEEDS...    But I may just add to my trip home(not so fun) and swing further south as it looks like there's a LOT of stilts in the memphis area.
Decisions decisions...  This is going to be a crazy trip I believe.
This planning is giving me a headache but will allow me to get the most in with ease.

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1 hour ago, millipede said:

?  If I can keep that a secret from my daughter, and the fact that there'd be canada jays in the first place... she'd go nuts. 
Recommendations for food?  Sunflower seeds in or out of the shell? peanuts? 

I've never actually hand-fed a Canada Jay, but I believe they like peanuts (roasted and unsalted).  They might also like sunflower seeds, but we only brought BOSS to Moose Bog and the Canada Jay didn't seem interested (I think it was scared of all the people, though).  RB Nuthatches and BC Chickadees loved them, though.  I heard that you can attract Canada Jays by simply crinkling plastic bags.

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Thanks... I guess we'll see what happens.


So, I'm working on three parts to this trip and each one has to be perfect to not make it tooooooo long and not overwhelm anyone. The drive there, the drive back, and the trips to make while there. 
I THINK I have the drive their planned fairly well but I'll list a few spots and hope for some clarity on some. If you know any of the areas enough to be of help, please let me know. If you know anyone on the board that can advise me on particular state/locations please tag them or something. Thanks.  MOST of these stops are based mostly on finding anything that's near the roads we'll be on.

We'll be stopping at Davidson Memorial Wildlife Area on Sappington RD in St Louis to pick up some eurasian tree sparrows. Not a life bird for my daughter or I but had to get a list in while passing through MO and this will do. Will be a life bird for my son and anyone else in the family that's interested. We have Jefferson Barracks Park on the list as a backup in case we strike out there.

Tempted to visit some really cool spots but it would mostly be birds we'd seen before and I don't want to go too far out of the way just to find birds I've seen before. ?  So we're just stopping at a rest stop to do some birding there.

Sodalis Nature Park in Plainfield.  Don't expect anything spectacular but looks like a nice relaxing spot not far from the highway.
Originally wanted to stop at goose pond but decided that would be further from the hwy than I wanted.

Ohio:  (Help needed)
Battle Darby Creek Metro Park in Galloway. It's a BIG place and I can't spend HOURS there, sadly. On the eBird charts for August, some needs that are found there include:
Ring-necked pheasant, common gallinule, and henslow's sparrow.  The first two are definitely something we'd like to find but could use direction. If we have any OH members that might have suggestions that would be helpful. Or else I might be able to contact an audubon chapter in that area to help plan a stop there.

Just the welcome center on I-90 near Erie. I imagine there's some good spots nearby but most of my stops are going to be short unless there's some BIG needs to fill in the area.

New York: (Help needed)
Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge in Seneca Falls.
According to charts there, the area could be good for:
Common gallinule, virginia rail, american bittern, least bittern, sandhill crane.  The latter being the most exciting by far. There are enough reports of them there I'm hoping they'll be easy to find. I (not my daughter though) have an american bittern on my list but the rest would all be life birds. This place is ENORMOUS so I'd need some direction so I don't spend a day there. Kind of stinks not being able to spend TOO much time in such a wonderful place but the longer I take to get to Massachusetts, the less time we have with family. I'm okay with that but, I'm the only one. HA. 

Massachusetts: (possible help needed?)
Looking at the maps of I-90 across western MA, I don't see a lot of exits. This means that any spots that could be good for birding could end up a LONG drive from the highway. Unless someone knows something in the western half of the state(I've never birded out that way) I'll probably just stop at one of several service areas along the pike. Not a big deal. I plan on making any stop in that area brief as I'll be VERY anxious to get to our destination by this point.


Okay, so I think I have most of that all planned... Soon I'll be working on the stops in New England and then the drive home.
Oh, that reminds me. We've done plum island in the past and we love it there. Would be even better if I could get a spot at the end so my family can swim somewhere without the massive undertow...  But, I'm not sure that's going to be THE best place for birding for me this time. I'm sure there are birds there that we didn't see that I could still find so, maybe. I guess I'll have to spend some serious time looking at the hotspots on eBird and see what I want to chase. I feel like the oystercatcher is a MUST find this year. Maybe I'll plan around that bird and see what kind of locations I come up with that will probably have some other good ones for us.
I think planning the actual trip destinations during the stay will be my next step, and then I'll work on the drive home.   phew...

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@The Bird Nuts, do you know anything about Brighton State Park? Seems to be the closest place to camp near Moose Bog. Looks okay so far. I may just have to call the VT parks department, or ask strangers on facebook about it as it seems a popular camping place. There are comments on the facebook page from recent campers so I can get some insight there I'm sure.
Wondering a few things...
1. Does it cost to camp/tent there? 
2. How's the swimming temps, last half of August... hmmm
3. Firewood easy to come by or for sale?
4. How popular is it? I don't want to rent a tent site(provided it costs) too far ahead of time as I'll want to go during good weather and I wont know the weather til it's closer to the date. I also don't want to just show up assuming there's a spot to find it full.

I think what I might do is try and head up there early enough to have some good daylight and do some light birding at moose bog with the whole family so they can all experience at least some of the birds. Then head over to a camp site, setup camp, relax, perhaps swim(if it isn't TOOOO cold), etc...  then get up early and take one or two kids back to the bog for a little heavier birding before packing up camp and heading back to MA.

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No worries. I'll ask some random people on facebook and if I don't get a lot of info there, I'll just call the VT parks... 

Having some trouble considering the little egret. We looked one year, two days in a row as we passed through that area to go to a puffin tour. I can't make a LOT of LONG birding trips but it seems that the bird, when it's there, moves a lot. Sometimes a few miles away. So I could go there and sit and wait... and wait... and wait... and miss out, yet again.
Not to mention the distance. From my mom's to the marsh just south of Portland is about 1hr30m.  Gilsland is another 10 minutes or so further. 

Do I make a special trip for that? Get up early one morning and drive up there and HOPE for the best???
Or an extra long drive back from moose bog down through the portland area?
Or, forget the egret?  hmmm... decisions. ?

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Is moose bog well labeled? I have the coordinates and it looks like I should be able to figure it out... but I've been to some hotspots that if you didn't already know where they were, you'd miss them. One locally is at the end of a farm road that leads to chicken houses. WAY back from the main road, next to those chicken houses, is a sign... but not at the main road.

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44 minutes ago, millipede said:

Is moose bog well labeled? I have the coordinates and it looks like I should be able to figure it out... but I've been to some hotspots that if you didn't already know where they were, you'd miss them. One locally is at the end of a farm road that leads to chicken houses. WAY back from the main road, next to those chicken houses, is a sign... but not at the main road.

Funny you ask.  We ended up turning around on 105 because we accidentally drove right past the road the trailhead is on (South America Pond Rd.).  It's not the easiest to find, but it's not really difficult either.

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