where to paddle on the Maine Coast

Hello, I've got some time this summer and am looking to go paddling somewhere along the Maine coast but have no idea where to go. I'm planning about a 5 day trip. I'm up for something within a moderate range (I've spent my share of time in a boat, my wife has spent some but not as much). 10 miles a day-ish and just looking for somewhere good to go. I've heard rumors of some good stuff around acadia but I'm curious if those islands are accessable and if they are if they are over populated. Just curious where to go, please help.


Maine Island Trail

– Last Updated: Apr-12-05 8:25 AM EST –

Here's the link: http://www.mita.org/index.php

I'm also planning on spending some time on the Maine coast this summer.

~ Arwen ~

Too many great choices
What part of Maine will you be in, mostly?

Anywhere from Portland downeast to Lubec is great (Which covers a lot of territory).

My personal faves are Casco Bay, Muscongus Bay & Penobscot Bay (Stonington & Castine in particular). Cobscook and Passamaquoddy bays require planning, as the tidal currents are EXTREME.


MITA second
We belong to MITA. Best access and you support efforts to keep uninhabited islands beautiful.

We spend most of July in Friendship. Muscongus Bay is fabulous paddling with many isleands and no commercial traffic, besides lobster boats.

Bar Harbor, and Acadia Nat. Park.
I don’t know how far up the coast you plan to go, but I vacation and kayak up in the Bar Harbor region of Maine every year for quite a while now. There are a bunch of islands called the Porcupine islands, which are stunning. The Harbor has wonderful scenery, but obviously, lots of lobster boats.

Muscoungus Bay Best
This bay has some very practical aspects for a 5 day stay.

There are no major shipping lanes like in Casco, there are strings of islands that you can island hop to if you aren’t ready for longer crossings (accessible islands are a good bit further spread out in the Arcadia area), there is a major river with MITA landing points coming out of Waldoboro that gives you a chance to paddle and see wildlife on days when the winds or fog is too dicey further out, and the islands in Muscongous come with fewer warnings about ticks and brown catepillars than Penobscot or Casco. The boat traffic is very much dominated by lobster boats and medium sized sailboats - so far anyway Muscongous has been a good place to paddle and not have to watch out for tons of young people in fast cigar boats or jet skis.

We’ve been going there for 14 years now, to a place on Flood’s Cove.

Figure water temps will be in the mid to higher 50’s in July, last year it was 60 but that was unusually warm.

The town of Friendship has a number of places you can stay that’ll put you right on the water - though get online quick - as well as a host of rown and more public launch points. Rockland also has a major public launch, but that puts you in near the ferry lanes. It’s much nicer to launch from Friendship or Cushing.

Ticks, fog, tides

– Last Updated: Apr-12-05 2:10 PM EST –

I can deal with all that. "Brown Catepillars"?! Now you're scaring me. Actually, I want to kayak in Maine and Muscongus Bay sounded like a suitable locale for the Maine experience for slightly less experienced paddlers.

Not Salt Water
Mooshead Lake can provide some nice paddling with limited development and boating traffic. Nice views of various peaks and wildlife. Some designated camping sites. On back side of Mt. Kineo an 800ft cliff drops straight down into the lake and the lake also offers side bays plus islands. If the wind blows you can get some interesting conditions.

Better hurry up to see Moosehead…
… in its undeveloped state.


Maine Coast, Fog
I did forget to mention about the fog - should have. Given how frequent and heavy it was last July I’d guess this year will be better, but anyone paddling anywhere on the coast of Maine had better have and know how to use compasss and chart. GPS unit (with lots of batteries) is very comforting if you don’t know the local area, though you should still always know how to navigate via a chart.

As I indicated in another thread, the fog in Maine can shut you in from over a mile to about 50 feet of visibility in half an hour. It’s one of the very good reasons to avoid areas with shipping lanes unless you are pretty darned good, because in the fog you absolutely can’t tell what direction sound comes from.

It is another reason that Mucoungus is good for people unfamiliar with the area. Odds are if it gets bad you can find a way to bump into something hard, at least long enough to figure out if you’ve landed where you wanted or some island dweller’s front yard. Just go west, or northwest.

We loved Acadia NP .
In the week we were there we circumvented the whole of Mt. Desert Island.



There’s great island hopping and lots of camping opportunities if you’re so inclined. You can stay and/or launch from the Old Quarry Campground, which is geared toward kayakers. It’s really gorgeous up there.

Bailey Island on the north side of Casco Bay is also a terrific spot, with lots of opportunities for sheltered or open water paddling.

I haven’t been there since 1991 but
back then you could travel from the north end of the lake down to Tomhagen Camps, where we used to stay, and not see a light anywhere after dark-- and I’m talking a 45 minute run in a fishing boat.—Rich