Moosehead Lake in Maine

by  guest-paddler

A self-supported trip created by guest-paddler

Trip Overview

Three words come to mind to describe Moosehead Lake - big, deep, and cold. That was my first impression twenty odd years ago, and it stays with me today, despite the fact that I have learned much more about it. Few destinations in this state can come close to matching the history of this fine very large body of water. Mount Kineo looms over the western shore. For many thousands of years, native people traveled here to mine flint. Kineo flint can be found in every corner of the Dawnland and far beyond. Thriving trade routes were established not only by water, but also as well-used overland route now known as Moosehead trail, connected it to the Belfast Castine area. Both of these cities were once native settlements, as were many Maine cities and towns. Should you choose to visit here you most likely travel at least part of this historic trail.

Greenville, for many years, called itself the gateway to the North Woods, but development is a serious threat here now. Recently state and private conservation groups have been working together to purchase large tracts of land to save this lake for future generations. I for one believe that this lake is worth saving at any cost.

Take the time to quietly paddle close to the shoreline. This is a good way to see wildlife. The northern half of this lake is still quite wild so don't hurry. I would plan at least a full weekend, but you can make your stay as long or short as you like. Several large islands and some public reserve lands are just begging to be explored. Remember to always give moose their space. The closest call I ever have had in my years of paddling was with a cow moose after stumbling over her newborn calf on a tiny island in the middle of a lake, not to far from here.

Big lake, big winds, big waves! Bring a boat that can handle it and respect this lake. Be prepared - sudden changes in conditions are an understatement here. Late ice-outs are normal here and early season paddlers MUST be prepared for cold water. Mid May ice out would be normal Memorial Day paddlers should wear wet suits or be dressed for cold water. Later season paddlers watch for sudden wind and lightning be aware of wind direction and the proximity of mountains that can affect the weather.


For accommodations, I recommend Lilly Bay State Park. Camping is available for a modest fee. Public reserve land campsites are available for free on a first come first serve basis and many of them are excellent sites including a handful of island sites. On my most recent trip we camped on Sugar Island and liked it very much. For questions about State Parks or, Public reserve lands contact Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, 22 State house Station, Augusta, Maine 04333; Telephone: (207) 287-3821.


Maine public reserve lands are free on a first come first serve basis. State parks charge a modest fee.


Ayuh you can get there from here, If you are coming from away (translation anything south of Kittery) take 95 north to Newport 7 to Dover-Foxcroft and 6 to Greenville (note that part of this route follows the old Moosehead trail) numerous access points can be found in the region.


Maine Bureau of parks and lands 22 State House Station, Augusta Maine 04333; Telephone: (207)287-3821


Resources beg borrow or steal a copy of DeLorme Maine Atlas and Gazetteer. Good maps and lots of information it is a good value. The Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands also has brochures and maps available on request.

Trip Details

  • Trip Duration: Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water

Trip Location