PROSPECT, Maine — On a recent spring day, I decided to take a walk on the grounds of Fort Knox with my two dogs in tow.

I’m sure there aren’t many locals who haven’t visited this historical treasure at one time or another. Having grown up nearby, I have many fond memories of visiting the fort over the years.

From the lack of other visitors, I would guess that many are unaware that the grounds of Fort Knox are accessible year-round.  While you cannot enter the fort or the Penobscot Narrows Observatory until the official opening on May 1, you can park for no charge in the off-season and explore the grounds of the fort and observatory on foot.

The views at Fort Knox are stunning.  Bring your camera because there are photo ops at every turn.  Observe the town of Bucksport across the Penobscot River, view the extraordinary feat of engineering that is the Penobscot Narrows Bridge, and walk around the base of the observatory. Looking straight up, you get a dizzying view of what the 420-foot tower looks like from the ground.

It is a great outing for families. There is plenty to keep the little ones busy, exploring the massive cannons and hot shot furnaces. I enjoyed walking down to the water’s edge and discovering the flotsam that has landed on the shores, and I scored an interesting piece of driftwood for my collection. Taking the path along the shoreline that leads to the woods, I discovered a spot where deer visit to get a drink of water.

The grounds are still wet in some areas, and it can be slippery, so bring proper footwear. There are picnic tables available, so if it’s a nice day you may want to bring your lunch, but don’t forget to carry out what you bring in.

For more information on Fort Knox and the Penobscot Narrows Observatory, visit