DACF Home → Bureaus & Programs → Bureau of Parks and Lands → Safety
On this page:
- COVID-19 Information
- Browntail Moth Alert
- Camping & Hiking Safety
- Ice Conditions & Safety
- Mud Season in Maine
- Ticks, Black Flies, and Other Insects
- Water Safety
State of Maine Follows the U.S. CDC Recommendations. Please read these guidelines:
- U.S. CDC - Recommendations.
- Lookout for ME - Maine travel information that includes travel alerts and advisories.
- National Center for Disease Control - National travel and mask guidelines
Camping & Hiking Safety
Maine is home to the largest population of black bears (Ursus americanus) in the eastern United States. Black bears in Maine are most active between April 1 and November 1. While it is great to spot bears in the wild at a safe distance, you should never approach a bear, and should quietly back away and leave the area. Below are tips to avoid bear conflicts while hiking and camping.
Tips for Avoiding Bears
- Stay aware of your surroundings,
- Keep group together - kids in sight, dog on leash - and
- Make noise in thick cover
- Store food, trash, lotion, toothpaste, and deodorant in:
- 1. Vehicle with windows rolled up
- 2. A bear-proof container, or
- 3. Suspended in a tree 100 yards from sleeping area
Additional Tips for Avoiding Black Bears, plus downloadable educational materials from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
Read about bear habitat, their food habits, reproduction, and other natural history at the black bear page by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
Help Protect Maine's Forests & Parks
Cooking over a picnic grill or campfire is a part of the Maine outdoor tradition. When visiting Maine's State Parks please remember that:
- 1. Fires are only permitted in the provided grills, campfire pits and fireplaces in the day-use and camping areas.
- 2. Grills are for use with charcoal only.
- 3. Firewood can carry harmful invasive insects that destroy Maine's forests. So, Buy it Where You Burn It. Please do not transport firewood.
- 4. When camping at a Maine State Park campground , firewood is ready and available for purchase. Please do not bring firewood into the parks.
- 5. If you have already moved firewood, don't leave it or bring it home - burn it within 24 hours. If you can't burn it within 24 hours, bring it to the nearest drop-off site.
- 6. Campfires must always be attended and be fully extinguished before you leave them. A small campfire is easier to maintain and to extinguish - keep it to the smallest size for your cooking needs.
- 7. To extinguish your campfire: Allow the wood to burn completely to ash. Pour water over all the ashes. If you hear hissing, continue to add water until it stops. Use a shovel to scrape through the ashes to be sure lower layers are wet and to check for any remaining sticks or embers that may not have burned completely. Make sure they are not smoldering. Add more water as needed. Do not leave the campfire until it is completely out and cool to the touch. Remember: If it's too hot to touch, it's too hot to leave.
Your family can learn more about campfire safety and campfire building from Smokey Bear.
Hiking in the Backcountry +
- Be prepared for changeable weather and variable terrain.
- Don't exceed your ability or that of anyone in your group.
- Plan outings wisely and research where you are going. This link will help you to plan ahead and prepare.
Visit our Backcountry Camping page for suggested remote hiking and paddling locations.
Winter Camping +
- If you are new to winter camping plan to camp at a Maine State Park first. These locations provide the challenge of winter camping and offer a good range of front country and remote locations to test your skills.
- Even for the experienced it is good to start the season off with an easily accessible location as a test run before heading out to more challenging terrain.
- Only highly experienced winter campers, or those who will be led by a Registered Maine Guide, are ready for the remote settings found on Maine's Public Lands.
- Winter Ice Safety Tips from Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
Off season and winter camping is available at select Maine State Parks and the Public Lands.
Tumbledown Mt. Closed to All Camping - Effective June 25, 2021 +
Damage and litter lead to camping prohibition on Tumbledown Mountain.
All camping areas on Tumbledown Mountain are now closed. Park Rangers and Maine Forest Service Rangers will be on patrol and on the lookout for illegal camping and illegal fire activity on the mountain.
Hikers are Invited to Help
- Be familiar with the seven Leave No Trace principles.
- Report camping, campfires, or other illegal use of the mountain by contacting BPL's Western Public Lands Office, 129 Main Street in Farmington, at (207) 778-8231.
Nearby Camping Alternatives
Tumbledown Mountain is located nearby Mount Blue State Park and Rangeley Lake State Park. People interested in camping are encouraged to make advanced reservations online (campwithme.com) or call 800-332-1501 from within Maine or 207-624-9950 from outside of Maine. Hikers can find additional camping options on the Maine Campground Owners Association website.
Tumbledown Public Lands Camping Prohibition Q&A
Read complete press release and Tumbledown Q&A
Mud Season in Maine
March, April and May - Season of Constant Change +
Maine has an amazing diversity of weather conditions any time of year but Mud Season ramps it up a notch. Springtime can mean mud, floods and ice out in southern Maine while northern Maine is still gripped by heavy snowpack and thick lake ice. Weather can change at a moments notice. Snow can fall any time of year on Katahdin and other places in Maine too.
- Keep your winter survival gear in the car,
- Refresh the first aid kit, and be sure to
- Get the local weather and conditions from the area you intend to visit before you head out to hike or ride a trail.
Ice Conditions & Safety +
Ice can be unstable and unsafe during any time of year, but use extra caution during the spring thaw. Before you go out on the ice make sure you know how thick it is and the related weight it can carry. Thick ice in one area of a pond or lake does not guarantee that same thickness in another location. Ice thickness is impacted by many factors, including nearness to shore, presence of vegetation, underwater currents and springs, day and night temperatures, the impact of precipitation, and whether the ice is newly formed hard ice, or old ice that has been sublimating (evaporating into the air), which can make it rotten in spots and more easily fractured. Venturing onto ice is always at your own risk.
General Guidelines for Clear, Hard Ice are:
- Less than 4-inches = Stay Off!
- 4-inches = one person with light gear; no groups!
- 5-inches = small group, but spread out!
- 6-inches = single snowmobile
- 9-inches = multiple snowmobiles, but spread out!
Given the highly variable recent weather, please use extra caution and err on the side of safety. Here are additional resources:
Winter road closures can last well into May some years. Many of the access roads are dirt and may be heavily impacted by spring rains and runoff. If you are leaving tracks, you should not go! Traffic during mud season can cause expensive damage to roads and heighten the risk of erosion.
Please respect Mud Season trail closures - they help reduce trail ersion while protecting water quality and your safety.
ATV Rider Information
- Text DACF ATV to 468311 for ATV Trail Alerts
- Get local club and trail condition information from ATV Maine.
- Please do not hike closed trails.
- Practice the 7 Leave No Trace Principles.
Ticks, Black Flies, and Other Insects
Black Flies +
Though black flies are an indicators of clean water (their larvae cannot survive polluted waterways) it is hard to remember that the adult flies have their place in nature too. The adults have a sharp bite that can leave itchy welts for weeks. Blackfly season is typically late April through June but may exten longer based on the amount of rainfall, daily temperatures and your proximity to wet areas.
Protect yourself by:
- Having a head-net ready to wear
- Wear a long sleeve shitrt and long slacks.
- Consider a Repellent - University of Maine Coorperatibe Extension
Browntail Moths +
Browntail Moth Alert
The browntail moth has been in Maine for over a century. Increasing hot, dry conditions are contributing to its population growth and spread throughout the state. Last Spring (2021), parts of Cumberland County and Maine's midcoast and Capital regions experienced the worst of the outbreak. This area includes Bradbury Mountain, Camden Hills, Lake St. George, and Warren Island State Parks.
Browntail moth caterpillar hairs can cause a skin rash on humans like that caused by poison ivy and difficulty breathing when inhaled.
The browntail caterpillar's emergence during spring is terrible timing for those planning visits during May and June. Browntail caterpillars mature in late June or early July, pupate in their cocoons, and emerge as moths approximately two weeks later. During late July early August, the risk for browntail moth activity and exposure declines. With browntail moth hairs remaining in the environment, the risk of exposure is continuous in dry conditions.
We ask everyone to review the commonly asked questions located on the Maine Forest Service website and visit the Maine CDC website for more information.
Many of our State Parks are not affected by browntail moth, and we are happy to assist with camping reservations in other areas or make alternate recommendations.
We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused by the browntail population outbreak.
When hiking in the woods and along woodland edges be sure to check yourself and family members, including pets, for ticks. Removing them early before they can attach to skin is key to staying safe from the diseases ticks can transmit. It is also important to learn the difference between dog ticks and deer ticks. Lyme Disease is spread by the smaller deer tick.
- Protect yourself, your family & pets from ticks - Maine Medical Center Research Institute
- Tick Indentification - UMaine Cooperative Extension
- How to submit a tick for ID - UMaine Cooperative Extension
- Diseases ticks can transmit - Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention
Stay Safe with Water Safety Tips from the American Red Cross.