Nicatous Lake is part of an extensive ancient Indian Waterway that leads into the Penobscot Bay. The name Nicatous means "little fork" and refers to the nearby junction of Nicatous Stream and the Passadumkeag River, a decision point for Indian canoeists.
The lake is long...over 13 miles with a North/South orientation, lots of coves, bays, and islands make for very exciting paddling. We paddle this with sea kayaks and found there are enough sandy beaches amongst the rocky shoreline to make landing a breeze. You can launch from the southern public boat launch (very ample parking across the street.
The lake could be paddled in 2 days but make it 3 if you really want to explore and enjoy the views. There are numerous rustic campsites that are water access only and you will find a private and remote experience here. The lake offers a cold-water fishery (landlocked salmon, small mouth bass and white perch), is deep and clear; and the shoreline offers hemlock, maples, oaks, birch, pine, cedar and spruce.
The understory along the shoreline is studded with blueberry and wild cranberry! Needless to say, you are treated to numerous sightings of osprey, bald eagles, moose, otter, fox, loons, mink, beaver, deer, and black bears to name a few! If you only have a day to paddle this, you could book a tow to the north shore with Gary and Denise over at Nicatous Lodge and then just paddle your way back in!
Reminder: This lake can get rough when the wind kicks up from the north but there are enough "tuck in places" to offer calmer paddling when required. If you make it up there to find things too windy for your skill set, hop over to the smaller Duck Pond less than a mile or two away.
There is Nicatous Lodge (open year round)on the southern shore with cabins and canoe rentals. There is a public boat launch at both northern and southern ends of the lake (with porto-potty).
No fee to launch or paddle. Fishing licenses, tows, camping/fire permits lodging, meals can be obtained at Nicatous Lodge.
Burlington is about an hours drive north of Bangor off Maine Route I-95 (Howland - Route 1 55 (north) and 188 (east) through Engield, Lowell and Burlington. (NOTE: make right at the STOP sign in Howland and the one in Enfield, both "T" intersections; right at "Ye Olde Tavern" in Burlington.) From Burelington stay on 188 (east) toi the end,m about 8 miles, then another 6 miles on a well-maintained gravel road to Nicatous Lake.