Canoeing & Kayaking
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Flatwater Paddling Lakes, Ponds, And Bogs
MOOSEHEAD LAKE - Moosehead is Maine's largest lake. At forty miles long and up to fifteen wide, Moosehead's waves can build to ocean-size rollers and chop, and can easily swamp small boats. Paddlers should be prepared for rough and cold water no matter what the forecast or time of year, and exercise extreme caution when crossing bays in Moosehead. The prevailing wind blows from the northwest, making progress from south to north difficult or impossible on many days of the year. Inexperienced paddlers should stay close to shore and keep a sharp eye on the weather, as abrupt changes in wind direction and velocity are not uncommon. Water temperatures in Moosehead remain cold year-round, although in late July and early August the surface water usually becomes refreshingly temperate. 'Primitive campsites are located on the lakeshore and on several of the lake's larger islands, and are available on a first-come, first-served basis. No fees are charged for public campsites except at Lily Bay State Park. Fire permits are required at certain campsites and are available from the Bureau of Parks and Lands. Public access at LILY BAY STATE PARK, GREENVILLE JUNCTION WHARF, ROCKWOOD PUBLIC LANDING, SPENCER BAY LANDING, and COWAN'S COVE CAMPSITE.
BRASSUA LAKE - The last lake in the Moose River chain, Brassua is located near Rockwood and can be accessed from a campsite just off Route 15 heading toward Jackman. Brassua Dam controls the lake level, which may vary during the season.
SEBOOMOOK LAKE - Seboomook lies just north of Moosehead and is part of the Penobscot watershed. A few public campsites off the Seboomook Road offer put-in access. Fees are charged on the private roads. Seboomook's water level may vary greatly during the season as it is a key impoundment in Great Northern Paper's water management system.
LOBSTER LAKE - Lobster Lake is a lovely remote lake northeast of Moosehead Lake. Lobster is suitable for overnight or multiday canoe-camping trips, and is often used as a side trip on the Upper West Branch Penobscot canoe route. From the air this lake forms the shape of a lobster claw, and to the paddler its shoreline of sandy beaches and rugged rock outcrops make fascinating exploring. Fees are charged for both camping and road use. Access is at Lobster Stream several miles off the Golden Road. For information and map of the Penobscot River Corridor with campsites and distances contact Bureau of Parks and Lands, 10 Hogan Road, Bangor, ME 04401 (207)941-4014.
CHESUNCOOK LAKE - Chesuncook, the third largest lake in the state, lies north of Moosehead and belongs to the West Branch Penobscot watershed. Like Moosehead Lake, wind can be a serious hazard to small boats on Chesuncook, and paddlers must be prepared for extremely rough water and keenly aware of changing weather patterns. Most canoeists approach Chesuncook from the Upper West Branch after paddling the river from Roll Dams or Lobster Stream on a three- to five-day canoe-camping trip. Access at the ranger station near the old Chesuncook Dam (now gone) provides a take-out for most canoeists, but can also serve as a put-in for those traveling north on the lake. Numerous primitive campsites are located on the lake and are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Historic Chesuncook Village is located near the mouth of the Upper West Branch and paddlers on the lake usually stop to visit this remote settlement, accessible only by water and still harboring a few hardy year-round residents. On a clear day the lake offers dramatic views of Mount Katahdin to the east. Camping and road use fees are charged. For more information and map of the Penobscot River Corridor showing campsites and distances contact Bureau of Parks and Lands, 106 Hogan Road, Bangor, ME 04401 (207) 941-4014.
North of Moosehead and south of the Allagash region a number of undeveloped remote lakes offer opportunities for exploration by paddle. CAUCOMGOMOC LAKE, LOON LAKE, UMBAZOOKSUS LAKE, and CANADA FALLS LAKE are a few that can be reached by road. Private road use fees are charged to access these waters. RAGGED LAKE - This pretty lake lies at the foot of Big Spencer Mountain and may be accessed from a campsite off the Sias Hill Road. Private road use fees are charged to access this area.
The Moosehead Region is dappled with smaller bodies of water that can offer peaceful paddling, abundant wildlife, and relatively simple access. Some require a short portage, many have campsites, and except during peak fishing time, most are not heavily used. SAWYER POND, SPECTACLE POND, PRONG POND, MOUNTAIN VIEW POND, BURNHAM POND, SHIRLEY POND, BIG & LITTLE SQUAW PONDS, BIG INDIAN POND, SECRET POND, SALMON POND, BROWN POND, the WEST BRANCH PONDS, UPPER and LOWER WILSON POND, INDIAN POND (there are several), LONG POND (also more than one), RUM POND, the ROACH PONDS (First, Second, and Third), and SPENCER POND range from lakes of respectable size to tiny, intimate ponds. Many are too small or shallow for large watercraft but perfect for poking around in canoes or kayaks in search of wildlife and solitude. All are accessible without user fees, and some can be reached only by portage trails.
Many other remote ponds may be accessed by flying services or private roads requiring user fees. HORSESHOE POND is known for its fly-fishing, as are the LYFORD PONDS. East of Moosehead Lake in the Nahmakanta Management Unit a number of remote bodies of water are now accessible by road from the Kokadjo area.
The marshes and bogs in the Moosehead area provide a rich habitat for many species of plants, birds, and animals. Observant bog paddlers will be rewarded with fascinating sights and sounds, especially during early morning and evening hours. LAZY TOM BOG north of Kokadjo is prime moose-watching territory that with sufficient water can be explored by canoe, WEST and EAST SHIRLEY BOGS and WIGGINS BROOK BOG are not far from Greenville, and PINE STREAM FLOWAGE north of Moosehead Lake can be accessed off the Golden Road. Canoe and kayak paddlers have the ability to venture into the shallow backwater wetlands that border many lakes and ponds, quietly experiencing a unique world that can be reached no other way.
For more information about flatwater paddling in Maine, including the Moosehead Region, check the Appalachian Mountain Club book Quietwater Canoe Guide: Maine, AMC Books, 5 Joy Street, Boston, MA 02108. (617) 523-0636.Back to top