In addition to its miles of ocean coastline, Maine has extensive tracts of land dotted with lakes and ponds. In total, there are over 3,400 lakes in Maine and hundreds of small ponds, many of which remain unnamed. Maine’s abundance of lakes and ponds makes it popular with canoeists, kayakers, boaters, fishers, and other water enthusiasts. The 10 largest lakes are spread across the state, giving visitors the opportunity to experience many different parts of beautiful, magnificent Maine.
1. Moosehead Lake
Moosehead Lake is the largest lake in Maine, covering 75,471 acres, and is approximately 10 miles by 40 miles in size. At its deepest point, the lake is 246 feet deep. Found in the north-central part of the state, Moosehead Lake is the largest mountain lake in the eastern United States. The 170-mile Kennebec River originates from the lake, as does the West Branch of the Penobscot River, Pleasant River, St. John River, and Piscataquis River. The closest towns are Rockwood to the northwest and Greenville to the south. One of Moosewood Lake’s most striking features is Mt. Kineo, which features 700-foot cliffs attached to the mainland by a thin strip of land. There are over 80 islands in the lake, making it an excellent place for paddlers to explore.
Visitors should stay alert for glimpses of white-tailed deer, black bears, moose, eagles, and osprey. Anglers frequently snag landlocked salmon, wild lake trout, brook trout, and smallmouth bass. Moosehead Lake is being developed at a rapid rate, with plans to establish houses, resorts, a marina, RV parks, a golf course, and rental cabins. There are numerous boat launches, local outfitters who rent canoeing or kayaking equipment, and nearby campsites.
2. Sebago Lake
Although Sebago Lake is Maine’s second largest, it is the deepest with a maximum depth of 316 feet and an average depth of just over 100 feet. The lake is approximately 45 square miles in area and is 12 miles long. The closest towns to Sebago Lake are Casco, Naples, Sebago, Standish, Windham, and Raymond. The lake is a headwater for the Presumpscot River, forming a waterway from the coast to Maine’s interior that was used to settle the region in the 18th century.
Sebago Lake is protected as part of Sebago Lake State Park, one of the five original parks established by Maine. There are two public boat launches, a 250-site campground, private camping facilities, rental cottages, and a swimming area. The lake has several islands, including the large Frye Island, which is inhabited during the summer months. Anglers seeking game fish in Sebago Lake will find landlocked salmon, smelt, lake trout, brook trout, smallmouth bass, brown trout, largemouth bass, and northern pike. If you catch a northern pike, you are encouraged to kill it and report it to the state; these fish were introduced illegally and may disrupt the natural ecosystem. Sebago Sailing operates the only sailing school and charter service in Maine’s inland lakes.
3. Chesuncook Lake
Chesuncook Lake, located in Piscataquis County, is located 40 miles northwest of Millinocket in a remote region of Maine. The only nearby settlement is Chesuncook Village on the northwest shore of the lake, which has a population of 10 people. The lake was formed when the West Branch of the Penobscot River was dammed in 1903 and 1916. It covers over 25,000 acres and is 22 miles long by 4 miles wide. The deepest point of the lake is 150 feet. It offers excellent fishing for landlocked salmon, brook trout, white perch, and lake trout. Canoeists, kayakers, and boaters also enjoy using the lake. Chesuncook Lake is also a well-known starting point for whitewater rafting on the Penobscot River.
4. Flagstaff Lake
Flagstaff Lake is a natural reservoir with a surface area of over 20,000 acres. The North and South Branches of the Dead River join in the lake to form the Dead River. When the Dead River was dammed in 1950, the lake swelled in size and submerged nearby settlements. The nearest towns are Eustis, Bigelow Township, and Carrying Place. Landlocked salmon, brook trout, yellow perch, and pickerel are the primary fish species in the lake. Flagstaff Lake is very shallow, especially during drought years, so boaters and paddlers should avoid marshy areas. The southern shore of the lake is framed by the magnificent Bigelow Mountain Range, providing ample nearby recreational opportunities and wildlife viewing. There are several boat launches, camping areas, and picnic sites on the lakeshore.
5. Pemadumcook Chain of Lakes
The Pemadumcook Chain of Lakes forms one body of water subdivided into Ambajejus, Elbow, North Twin, and South Twin Lakes. This natural lake formation overs 18,300 acres and has a maximum depth of 103 feet. Numerous islands dot the interior of the lakes, allowing excellent opportunities for paddlers to explore. A state-sponsored boat launch is found near Partridge Cove off Route 11. Fish species include lake trout, brook trout, rainbow trout, landlocked salmon, chain pickerel, white perch, yellow perch, sunfish, bullhead, and whitefish. The lakes are found just northwest of Millinocket; Nahmakanta Public Reserved Land, Debsconeag Lakes Wilderness Area, and Baxter State Park are located nearby for camping and other recreational opportunities.
6. Spednic Lake
Spednic Lake is located on the Maine border with New Brunswick, with much of the lake falling within Canadian territory. Over 20 rivers flow into this lake and the St. Croix River serves as its primary outflow. At 17,219 acres in area and 17 miles long, this lake is popular with boaters, wildlife lovers, anglers, canoeists, and kayakers. The lake’s maximum depth is 54 feet and it has numerous islands. The closest towns are Vanceboro and Forest City on the U.S. side of the lake and Pemberton Ridge on the Canadian side. Spednic Lake is best known for its bass fishing, although landlocked salmon, white perch, brown bullhead, chain pickerel, yellow perch, whitefish, and pumpkinseed are other common species. A public boat launch is found in Vanceboro.
7. Mooselookmeguntic Lake
Mooselookmeguntic is 16,300 acres in size with a maximum depth of 132 feet. Rangeley and Oquossoc are the nearest settlements. The Rangeley and Kennebago Rivers flow into the lake, while the water flows out into Upper Richardson Lake. The construction of a dam caused Mooselookmeguntic Lake to rise, joining with another lake to form a reservoir. The lake has several islands, including the large Toothaker Island and Students Island in its southern portion. Visitors should stay alert for sightings of moose, white-tailed deer, and other wildlife. Mooselookmeguntic Lake is known for its excellent trout and salmon fishing opportunities. Nearby Rangeley has several outfitters who rent canoes and kayaks.
8. East Grand Lake
East Grand Lake is just under 16,000 acres in size, at 22 miles long and 4 miles wide. Located just northwest of Spednic Lake on the Maine-New Brunswick Border, this lake is closest to the towns of Orient, Weston, Danforth, and Forest City. The lake is relatively shallow, with an average depth of 28, although it is 128 feet deep at its deepest point. Fishing is very popular on the lake, which is well-known for its population of landlocked salmon, lake trout, smallmouth bass, brook trout, and yellow perch. Nearby Weston has a public boat launch, and local outfitters can rent paddling equipment.
9. West Grand Lake
West Grand Lake is known throughout New England for its landlocked salmon fishing opportunities. At 14,340 acres and maximum depths of 128 feet, this lake draws avid anglers from across the country. Nearby Grand Lake Stream has an abundance of outfitters and Registered Maine Guides who can help you catch a trophy fish. Lake trout, whitefish, and smallmouth bass are other common species. Those seeking a serene paddling experience can rent a boat or kayak from an outfitter in Grand Lake Stream.
10. Chamberlain Lake
At just under 11,000 acres, Chamberlain Lake is the tenth largest in Maine. Located near Eagle Lake Township, the entire lake is surrounded by the Chamberlain Lake Public Reserved Land, protecting it for outdoor recreation. The lake forms the southern end of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway and is also part of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. There is a public boat launch at Chamberlain Bridge, numerous picnic sites, and nearby camping opportunities on the lakeshore. It is known for its populations of brook trout, lake trout, and whitefish.