New Fort Fairfield business takes tourists for ATV rides, hopes to boost economy
FORT FAIRFIELD, Maine — With guided ATV rides running out of Fort Fairfield, Ed Plourde’s new business Maine Back Country Adventures is offering a family friendly way for visitors to explore the trails of Aroostook County.
This June, Plourde started Maine Back Country Adventures as a business combining his passion for ATV riding and his interest in boosting Aroostook County tourism.
“I told my wife, ‘If you start a business, you might as well be doing something you love doing. I love hitting the trails and going out in the woods,’” he said.
Plourde works as a safety and human resources manager at Columbia Forest Products in Presque Isle, and said he had a hunch there would be a business opportunity in offering guided ATV rentals.
Numerous snowmobile rental businesses cater to winter tourists in northern Maine, but Plourde said he didn’t see many ATV rentals available when some of his family visiting from Connecticut wanted to join him on the trails several years ago.
“We couldn’t find much of anything in our places. All of the other places were down in central and southern Maine,” he said.
After he bought a side-by-side ATV, he said he had the idea of offering guided rides and this June launched the business.
“I’ve been getting a lot of phone calls since the beginning of June. We did two guided rentals in July. All the people I’m hearing from are from out of state.”
Maine Back Country Adventures offers only guided ATV rides, with Plourde going along and customers either riding as passengers or driving a traditional four-wheeler or a side-by-side. So-called “unsupervised ATV rentals” have too high a liability requirement to work as a business, Plourde said.
Rather than speedy thrill-seekers, Plourde caters to people looking for a rugged and scenic excursion through Aroostook County’s agricultural and forest landscapes, such as exploring the trails along the U.S.-Canadian border in Easton and Mars Hill or venturing into the deep woods leading to Scopan Lake.
“I’ve got different trails mapped out for different lengths of time. They all have a lot of nice scenery that [customers] can soak in and take pictures on,” Plourde said.
With two side-by-side vehicles and one four-wheeler, Plourde said hecan accommodate small groups and families. Adult customers only need a valid driver’s license to drive a rented, supervised ATV.
Along with running a small business based around his passion, Plourde said he also hopes to draw more visitors to northern Maine.
“One of the purposes of my business is to introduce more tourism to Aroostook County and to give people a little bit more to do.”