Moosehead Lake Vacation Guide
One can only guess whether the local moose population in the Maine Highland Region has any clue that a lake has been named in their honor. Yet these four legged herbivores with the impressive headgear flock to Moosehead Lake, perhaps to show off or maybe just for the sweet green plants. At nearly 40 miles long and roughly 20 miles wide, this lake is one big underwater moose buffet. Wildlife watchers and photographers flock to Moosehead Lake and its surrounding towns to take in the view, commune with nature and do some serious year-round recreating.
Moosehead Lake Region Basics
Only a three hour drive from Portland and only half that from Bangor, Moosehead Lake seems more like half a world away. Located, in the Maine Highlands, the wildlife population outnumbers the humans. It is this wildness, combined with natural beauty, which has been attracting tourists since the early 1900s. Back then, the rich and the famous would board the train, heading for elaborate hotels on the shores of Moosehead Lake. Nothing like a bit of luxury while enjoying the countryside.
Today’s Moosehead Lake Region draws visitors from all walks of life. Some still stay in hotels with all manner of creature comforts, while others bring their RVs or tents, preferring to spend the night in the forest or lakeside. Some enjoy a leisurely water cruise on the vintage steamship Katahdin, others a white-knuckle ride on some of the area’s challenging rapids. Kayak, canoe, fly-fish or wildlife watch to your heart’s content, it’s all part of your visit to Moosehead Lake.
The city of Greenville wraps around the southern end of Moosehead Lake. Lower Wilson Pond and part of Rum Pond are also within city limits. Route 15 leads to the center of town, or if you prefer, fly into the Greenville Municipal Airport. Founded in 1836 from land belonging to the Nathaniel Haskell Plantation, Greenville was on its way to becoming the gateway to Maine’s remote backcountry. The name comes from the abundance of forests, which kept a thriving lumber industry going strong.
One of the city’s favorite attractions is the lake steamer Katahdin. She was built in 1914, the latest in a string of ships bearing that name that were used to move logs, supplies and people around the lake and beyond. Today the steamer, a Registered National Landmark, offers cruise tours of Moosehead Lake. Next door to the mooring spot of the Katahdin is the Moosehead Marine Museum, offering historic tales of the region, with no admission fee.
Perhaps you prefer to get out on the water on your own, paddling a kayak or canoe. Or, maybe a bit of exploring along the shores of Moosehead Lake is more to your liking. If you haven’t brought your own gear, that’s not an issue. Local outfitters offer almost any kind of outdoor supplies you could want, for rent or sale. One, Northwoods Outfitters is open year round, expanding its offerings to snowmobiles, skis and snowshoes. If you’d prefer a guided trip, this firm offers everything from moose watching excursions to multi-day canoe campouts in Maine’s wildlife rich backcountry.
Other options in town include ATV rentals or taking an air tour with one of the floatplane charter firms. One of the long timers, Jack’s Air Service, offers fishing charter campouts to remote Horseshoe Pond. The fun about landing in a float plane is spewing all that water about as you change from a creature of the air to one of the lake. Each September, Greenville Junction hosts the International Sea Plane Fly-In, an annual event since 1973. The best views are from Indian Hill and West Cove. Scores of planes, some classic bits of aviation history, others experimental craft on the verge of making their own mark, join the celebration. Craft fairs and food booths are part of the fun.
Beginning in mid-May, Greenville holds a month-long celebration celebrating all things moose. Called the Moose Mania Festival, it includes the Moose River Canoe Race, Famous Moose Tales, the Moosterpiece Craft Fair, the Tour de Moose Bike Race and a Kid’s Moose Fun Day. Learn how to “call a moose” or bring home a local artist’s rendition of the area’s most famous creature.
Accommodations in the Greenville area include campgrounds with tent and RV spots as well as rental cabins. One popular camping and recreational area is Lily Bay State Park, on the eastern shore of Moosehead Lake, just north of Greenville. It offers lakeside and forest campsites for tents and RVs, even a few spots for the bus-sized class-A rigs.
It is possible to experience some of the vintage glamour from the early days of Moosehead Lake. The Greenville Inn, once the home of William Shaw, a local lumber baron, overlooks the lake in all its Victorian glory. Even the one-time carriage house has been turned into a deluxe family suite. The bay window of the vintage dining room offers a panoramic view of the lake, forest and any foraging moose enjoying their dinner as well. Other lodges and restaurants are in town or along Routes 5 and 6 that skirt the lake. Looking for a business? See the Greenville Junction or Greenville Business Directory.
Rockwood – Mt. Kineo
Rockwood sits on the western edge of Moosehead Lake, directly across from Mt. Kineo. The mountain is part of peninsula once prized by Native Americans for the rich deposits of flint, useful for crafting arrowheads and other tools. Trails leading to the top provide panoramic views of Moosehead Lake.
The town is quiet, laid back, and more geared towards those wanting to fish, hunt and just enjoy the outdoors. Mt. Kineo Golf Course is one of the attractions. Campgrounds and privately owned rental cabins are popular. The only motel in town is the rustic Moosehead Lake Motel. Most accommodations and almost all service are in Greenville, 20 miles to the south.
Rockwood is the home of the legendary Gray Ghost Camps, built in the 1950s to attract fly-fishermen and seasonal hunters. The name comes from a certain type of fishing fly that appears to work wonders on local waters. Individual cabins show a similar creativity with names like Grizzly King, Mickey Finn and Fool’s Gold. This historic camp offers watercraft rentals and boat slips. In winter the snowmobiles, skis and snowshoes come out. It’s time to take a walk on some frozen water to your ice fishing spot on the lake. Click here for the Rockwood Business Directory.
Shirley, Beaver Cove and Kokadjo
Shirley is a township south of Greenville, home to the West Shirley Bog, a true to nature fishing and nature pond. Shirley Mills, a tiny town sitting next to Shirley Pond is the center of the township. The area is located ten miles south of Greenville via Route 15; this is a rural residential area with no tourist services.
Beaver Cove is a recent addition to the Moosehead Lake area, founded in 1975. With barely 100 full time residents, this tiny community on the eastern shore is almost completely hidden within the forest. Lily Bay Road is the only paved road in, leading to the Town Office, the only visible building. During the summer, the area swells to about 500 people when cottage owners and/or guests come to town. Other than private rentals, all other accommodations are in nearby campgrounds, such as Lily Bay State Park, or in Greenville, seven miles south.
Kokadjo is even more remote, 14 miles beyond Beaver Cove. It is literally at the end of paved Lily Bay Road. A true outdoorsman’s paradise, this area is home to the Roach River and First Roach Pond, prime Brook Trout fishing grounds. Open year-round, the Kokadjo Cabins & Trading Post offer a touch of civilization, with cabin rentals, a trading post store, dining room and bar. Fishing and hunting licenses are available, as are ATV and snowmobile rentals. If you’ve come in search of a true wilderness experience, this really is the middle of almost nowhere. Looking for a business? See the Shirley, Beaver Cove or Kokadjo Business Directory.
Moosehead Lake Area Directories
Visit the following directories to find lodging, dining, attractions, shops, services and recreational activities in the Greenville, Maine area.
- Beaver Cove Maine
- Greenville Maine
- Greenville Junction Maine
- Kokadjo Maine
- Rockwood Maine
- Shirley Maine