I’m looking for a place in Maine with a variety of nice small lakes and ponds fairly close to each other for about a week of day trips, plus good car camping. I like bodies of water with lots of coves and islands to explore. Hopefully not too many tanks of gas from Portland. Any suggestions?
Oxford County, Western Me
If you look at the map around the towns of Bridgton, Norway, Paris, Fryeburg (all in Oxford County), you would see more lakes and ponds than can be explored in month’s time. All within 1.5 hours from Portland, ME.
Yup, I love that area
But I’ve been there before. Looking for new adventures.
. . . But since you seem to know that area, do you know of any kayak camping spots around there?
Sebago State Park…
on the northern shore of Sebago has a huge campground and boat launch. Paddled there offseason before. Was nice and quiet. Don't know about in-season. Certainly good "base" to explore other lakes and ponds in that area.
If you go further north, up into the western mountains, where I have cabin in Andover, ME. Not as many lakes and ponds but lakes are large like Umbagog (lots of coves and some islands to explore), interconnected Lakes Richardson, Mooselookmeguntic, and Rangely. There are also some smaller lakes ponds in the area including Roxbury Pond/Andover, Songo/Bethel, Weld Lake/Byron. State campgrounds at Umbagog and Rangely (former run by NH and latter by ME). Private campgrounds at Richard lake (South Arm campground) and Roxbury Pond. Also should not discount the Androscoggin River by Bethel. There is private campground there with a kayak/canoe livery.
Primitive or organized camping?
There are some campsites on Moose Pond north of the causeway and on Kezar Pond off the Saco River.
Organized camping involves interaction with trailers. I live on Crescent Lake opposite Kokatosi Campground. Their waterfront sites are for tents only. Beware weekends…its a busy watersport lake and the campground has music…midweek is superb. Sebago is a decent campground but the lake itself can be busy.
However there are quiet coves and the 365 Dingley Islands a gunkholers paradise. You will need the below mentioned atlas to find the put in. Another great kayak trip is around Frye Island with a put in at the ferry landing…but the landing gets congested in summer (there is not much parking)
From my home I can get to the Heath and Pleasant Lake in Casco… Also with one portage a thirty mile trip up to Harrison on Long Lake…However its mostly cottage country though the setbacks required for houses sometimes make it pleasant.
Off Sebago…go up the Crooked River.
The Androscoggin River from Gilead all the way to Mexico is a gentle run…the problem is the shuttle. Bethel Outdoors Adventures can help you.
I have not yet gotten to Aziscohos Lake…
You can also move over to the Moosehead Region and run day trips out of various access points on Moosehead Lake and base out of Lily Bay State Park. Or primitive camp on many shoreline campsites along the east shore.
I don’t know much about the Belgrade Lakes region.
I am still busy exploring my own area. There are small gems I still have not gotten to, like exploring the full length of Moose Pond as well as Trickey and Wood Ponds.
The best reference is the DeLormes Atlas and Gazeteer. Its got campgrounds indicated as well as hand and boat trailer launch sites. Also primitive campsites listed.
The Saco River is a great float with a campground mid trip but not in the summer! Its just jammed with paddlers.
once you get a hold of a DeLorme state
A & G, take a look at what’s up north…you’ll may opt to save a little more for next time. Indeed plenty of water off to the western mtns…but once up north you don’t have to drive very far for pond-to-pond leisure.
Big fan of QUIET
I’m looking for those small gems you mention. I’ve done Sebago, Richardson, Umbagog, and Aziscohos. I’d like to spend a week wandering around from small lake to pond. No big lakes for this trip.
I’m torn between organized campgrounds (hate the noise) and primitive camping (no longer fond on bears, coyotes, and mountain lions). So I’m open on that.
I’m looking up around Lincoln in the atlas.
Up by Millinocket
is Jo Mary Campground. Its just far enough in so you feel the wilderness. Yet have company.
There are a lot of lakes and ponds to investigate if your vehicle can handle logging roads.
Save what for next time?
I was noticing what you said about the closer distance between ponds in the Lincoln area in the atlas. Lots of places I would go if gas weren’t so expensive.