Forty miles long and Twenty miles across, Moosehead Lake - Maine’s largest lake, offers plenty of recreation and wilderness to explore. The lake is nestled away in the north woods of Maine, more than a 3 hour drive from Portland, and is home to one famous resident who frequently wanders its shores and adjacent ponds. We are speaking of course about the Moose (Alces americanus). The name of the lake alone was a big enough draw, but the prospect of seeing moose is always an exciting perk. Grey Wolf and Timber accompanied us on this hopeful journey to Moosehead Lake.
We arrived at Lily Bay State Park, unsure of where we would set up camp for the night. The knowledgeable and friendly park rangers told us about a few options and the four of us made a decision to load up the kayaks and to head out to Sugar Island for the night.
The paddle from the bay of Rowell Cove to the campsites on Sugar Island was much longer and further than we had anticipated. One thing we quickly learned is that Moosehead is one giant lake! The map scale was 1:100,000 (1" = 1.6 miles) in comparison to the 1:36,000 (1" = .57 miles) Teton was used to using for navigation on the ocean. This difference called for a change in perception when reading the map and a bit of distortion when it came to visualizing the distances. There was a decent cross wind that made the water rough and created a more tremulous journey. We stuck close to the shore of Sugar and fought the frequent waves and eventually came across a decent camp site on the island called Porcupine Point.
Once camp was set up, we discussed our plan for the rest of the day. We had intended to return to the mainland to get supplies for dinner and snacks and then return to the island camp but with the high head winds against us, logistically we couldn't accomplish the return crossing without paddling into the darkness of night. There was not enough daylight left to make the trip happen safely and it seemed as though we were stranded. We made the best of it with the few snack rations we had carried with us. With nothing much else to occupy us, we decided to paddle around the quieter, wind-blocked side of the island for the rest of the day.
After we finished exploring the upper regions of Sugar Island's shoreline we headed back to our camp. Everyone engaged in their own version of R&R and we rationed our snacks by the hour.
That evening we played Indian Checkers and a few other games we could scrap together with natural elements. We got to bed early so we could get a jump on our paddle back in the morning.
Even though it was better than the day before, the wind was still not kind the next morning. Once we landed on the mainland we packed up and changed out of our wet clothes. We spent the rest of the day exploring the Moosehead Lake Region, making a stop at the shoreline of Mount Kineo. This peninsula is home of 700 foot cliffs that rise up straight out of the lake, a sight to see for many tourists. A ferry travels to the cliff daily where a visitor can take a hike, play on the golf course, or explore the large concentration of rhyolite rock formations. We stayed land side and looked at the beauty from afar.
One of our aspiring adventures, the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, runs through Moosehead Lake. This section of the NFCT is full of history and striking beauty. While travelling along, the paddler will follow in Thoreau's footsteps and paddle past the boastful Mt. Kineo.
After all of our time and exploration around Moosehead, we still had not seen a Moose and only had a few hours left until heading back to Portland. Disappointed, we tried one last effort to find the creature by taking a Moose Safari. Northwoods Outfitters in Greenville provided a guide and a van to cruise in while searching. First, we tried Little Moose Mountain Pond where we paddled around as quietly as possible, looking and listening for any activity on the shorelines.
While the pond was beautiful by itself, there were no Moose to be seen, so we loaded back into the van and continued down the road. Just when we least expected it, we came upon a juvenile moose right in town on a residents lawn. This calf did not seem phased by any of its spectators, as many cars pulled up after noticing our van had stopped. We all stood around quietly, taking pictures and admiring this Moose while it fed on the grasses.
Thrilled by our Moose success, we headed out for one last meal in the Moosehead Lake area, and made our way back to Portland.