Attractions

10 Must-See Lakes in Maine For Your Next Adventure

Maine, especially Southern Maine, is known for its gorgeous beaches, but did you know that there are more than 6,000 lakes in Maine?

But Maine actually offers a unique, diverse natural setting.

Aside from the beaches, there are dense pine forests, vast wilderness areas, sweeping mountain ranges, sparkling waterways, and glacial rivers, with its world-class cities and towns in this beautiful setting.

In addition to its mountains, coastline, forests, and cities, Maine is also home to over 6,000 lakes.

The lakes in Maine cover more than a million acres of the state and are valuable habitats for fish and wildlife, recreation sites for locals and tourists, and reservoirs for drinking water for the majority of the population.

Going around Maine, you’ll find that there are “lakes” and “ponds.” To add to the confusion, almost 3,000 of these lakes and ponds have no name.

One way to tell whether it’s a lake or pond is that sunlight penetrates to the bottom of all areas of a pond, while lakes have deep waters where sunlight can’t penetrate. The surface area is another criterion. Lakes have bigger surface areas than ponds.

Whatever name they go by, they’re all still beautiful.

Here are but a handful of the best lakes in Maine that you need to visit for your next adventure.

The 10 Best Lakes in Maine

1. Sebago Lake

Sebago Lake

Known as: The deepest and the second largest lake in Maine.

Sebago Lake sits in the southern part of Maine, less than 20 miles northwest of Portland and near the foothills of the White Mountains.

Sebago Lake State Park is one of the five original state parks and features sandy beaches, making it a popular destination for families. Explore the extensive woodlands, ponds, bogs, and rivers in this park as well.

Anglers like to go to Sebago Lake for its prized landlocked salmon, as well as lake, brook and brown trout, smallmouth and largemouth bass, and northern pike. In fact, anglers are encouraged to keep all northern pike they catch.

Visit Frye Island on the lake itself, or even stay in one of the vacation rentals there and be treated to breath-taking views in every direction. Note, though, that Frye Island is open to visitors only from May to October.

Nearby Portland is known as a hub for history, culture, the arts, entertainment, and dining, as well as of course lodging options.

Essential Information
Location: Cumberland County, ME
Activities: Swimming, boating, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, jet skiing, water skiing, hiking, biking, picnicking, camping, golfing | Winter: ice fishing, ice skating, alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing
Main access: Sebago Lake State Park
Nearby services and amenities: Boat launches, hiking trails, biking trails, showers, restrooms, picnic amenities, playground, golf course
Where to stay: Vacation rentals, inn, lodges, cottages, campgrounds, RV parks
Nearby places of interest: Frye Island, Seacoast Fun Parks
Best time to visit: June to August (warmer temperatures, ideal for swimming and fishing, but very crowded); March to May (cooler temperatures, wildflowers bloom); September to November (ideal temperatures, fall foliage); December to February (winter activities)
More information:

2. Webb Lake

Lake Webb

Photo Credit: Tim Pierce

Known as: The perfect lake and mountain destination

Webb Lake is at the base of Mount Blue State Park, popular with families and anglers.

The crescent-shaped sand beach on the lake’s southwestern shore is perfect for swimming and sunbathing in the summer.

Boating near the end of the day gives you a chance to see the sun go down behind the mountains, illuminating the water and surrounding rock formations with spectacular colors.

Nearby Center Hill, Mount Blue, Tumbledown Mountain, Little Jackson Mountain, and Blueberry Mountains provide hiking opportunities with various levels of difficulty.

Webb Lake is popular among anglers for its brook and brown trout, as well as smallmouth bass, yellow perch, and chain pickerel.

Wildlife is abundant in this area as well. Watch out for moose, bears, deer, coyote, and foxes.

Essential Information
Location: Franklin County, ME
Activities: Boating, fishing, swimming, water-skiing, hiking, biking, horseback riding, picnicking, wildlife watching, camping, hunting | Winter: ice skating, sledding, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, ATV riding
Main access: Mount Blue State Park
Nearby services and amenities: Boat launches, hiking trails, biking, horse trails, picnic amenities, playground, showers, restrooms
Where to stay: Inns, campgrounds, RV parks
Nearby places of interest: Mount Blue, Tumbledown Mountain
Best time to visit: June to August (warmer temperatures, ideal for boating, fishing, wildlife watching); March to May, September to November (cooler temperatures); December to February (winter activities)
More information:

3. Rangeley Lake

Rangeley Lake

Photo Credit: cloud2013

Known as: One of the legendary trout lakes in Maine

Rangeley Lake is one of the six lakes in Maine’s Rangeley Lakes region and one of Maine’s legendary trout lakes. At one time, this lake produced the largest rainbow trout east of the Mississippi.

Nowadays, anglers venture here to fish for brook trout, as well as landlocked salmon, smelt, perch, chub, and carp.

Boaters and swimmers get treated to magnificent views of Saddleback Mountain, as well as the huge expanse of coniferous forests. During the summer, waterfowl and shorebirds such as loon, heron, cranes, and kingfishers.

There are islands scattered throughout the lake, with the most notable ones being Maneskootuk Island and the South Bog Islands.

Rangeley Lake also has a designated water landing zone for seaplanes.

Hikers can climb to the top of Bald Mountain for sweeping 360-degree views of the Rangeley Lakes region from Saddleback and the Bigelows west to the New Hampshire mountains.

Essential Information
Location: Franklin County, ME
Activities: Boating, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, hiking, picnicking, camping, hunting | Winter: ATV riding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, alpine skiing, Nordic skiing
Main access: Rangeley Lake State Park
Nearby services and amenities: Marina, boat launches, hiking trails, picnic amenities, restrooms, playground, golf course, restaurants
Where to stay: Resort, inns, campgrounds, RV parks
Nearby places of interest: Bald Mountain Public Reserved Land, Rangeley Lakes National Scenic Byway, Bigelow Preserve Public Reserved Land, Hunter Cove Wildlife Sanctuary
Best time to visit: June to August (warmer temperatures, ideal for swimming and fishing, plenty of activities, festivals, fireworks); December to February (winter activities)
More information:

4. Mooselookmeguntic Lake

Mooselookmeguntic Lake

Photo Credit: Alans1948

Known for: Moose-watching, gorgeous scenery, various recreational activities

Almost adjacent to Rangeley, Mooselookmeguntic Lake is thought to be named after the Abnaki word meaning “moose feeding place,” which is appropriate given the large moose population.

Thus, a popular activity on the banks of the lake is moose-watching. They’re easiest to see during the early morning or in the evening, while they feed and drink.

If you’re more into hiking, the Appalachian Trail is only a few miles away, as well as plenty of other trails with varying difficulty.

It’s a great place to fish for most eastern species of trout but is best known for its brown trout. Other fish that can be caught here include salmon, brook trout, perch, and shiner.

If you’re in the mood to explore, go boating to the lake’s southern portion and check out Toothaker Island and Students Island, popular for picnicking and swimming.

Essential Information
Location: Franklin County and Oxford County, ME
Activities: Boating, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, fishing, picnicking, hiking, biking | Winter: cross-country skiing, alpine skiing, snowmobiling, Nordic skiing
Nearby services and amenities: Boat launches, picnic amenities, hiking trails, biking trails
Where to stay: Vacation rentals, campgrounds, RV parks
Nearby places of interest: Appalachian Trail, Bald Mountain, Bald Mountain Public Reserved Land, Hunter Cove Wildlife Sanctuary
Best time to visit: June to August (warmer temperatures, ideal for swimming and fishing, plenty of activities, festivals, fireworks); December to February (winter activities)
More information:
Mooselookmeguntic Lake Map | Rangeley Lakes Maine

5. Lake St. George

Known as: One of Maine’s best-kept secrets

Mid-Coast Maine is normally known for its coastlines, and so you’ll rarely hear about Lake St. George and the state park on its shore.

Lake St. George, also known as St. George Lake, is a spring-fed lake near Belfast and Augusta.

Being spring-fed makes the waters of this lake much clearer than that of other lakes, but it also makes the water extremely cold, so be prepared.

Boaters can explore the numerous undeveloped islands that dot the main basin of the lake, while anglers can fish for landlocked salmon and brook trout.

Families will love picnicking, sunbathing, and swimming in the lake. Winter provides the opportunity for winter activities on the lake as well.

Essential Information
Location: Waldo County, ME
Activities: Boating, fishing, canoeing, swimming, hiking, hunting, picnicking, camping, | Winter: Cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, ice fishing
Main access: Lake St. George State Park
Nearby services and amenities: Boat launches, hiking trails, picnic amenities, restrooms, showers, playground, volleyball court, basketball court
Where to stay: campgrounds, RV parks
Nearby places of interest: James Dorso Wildlife Management Area, Northern Headwaters Trailhead, Kennebec River, Damariscotta Lake State Park
Best time to visit: June to August (warmer temperatures, ideal for swimming and fishing); December to February (winter activities)
More information:

6. Cobbosseecontee (Cobbossee) Lake

Cobbossee Lake

Photo Credit: KimManleyOrt

Known as: One of the best lakes in Maine for bass fishing and the largest lake in the Winthrop Lakes Region in Maine

This lake’s name means “the place of many sturgeon” in Abnaki. Nowadays, however, Cobboseecontee Lake boasts some of the largest catches of bass in the country.

Other fish caught here include brook and brown trout, white and yellow perch, chain pickerel, splake, red-breasted sunfish, and northern pike.

Meanwhile, boaters love Cobbosseecontee Lake for its coves, inlets, and over two dozen islands.

Birdwatchers can see bald eagles, great blue heron, least bittern, osprey, and loons.

Cobbosseecontee Lake is also home to Ladies Delight Light, the only active inland lighthouse in the state.

Augusta is a short distance away, providing many shopping and dining options for vacationers.

Essential Information
Location: Kennebec County, ME
Activities: Boating, fishing, sailing, kayaking, canoeing, water skiing, swimming, hiking, biking, picnicking, birdwatching, golfing | Winter: cross-country skiing, snowmobiling
Main access: Cobbosseeconte Lake Boat Launch (boaters)
Nearby services and amenities: Boat launches, hiking trails, biking trails, picnic amenities, general stores, golf course
Where to stay: Vacation rentals, cottages, cabins, campgrounds
Nearby places of interest: Ladies Delight Light, Monks Hill, Allen Hill, Hodgdon Island Preserve, Horseshoe Island Preserve, Perry Island Preserve, Allen-Whitney Memorial Forest
Best time to visit: June to August (warmer temperatures, ideal for swimming and fishing, plenty of activities in Augusta); December to February (winter activities)
More information:

7. Flagstaff Lake

Flagstaff Lake

Photo Credit: pfly

Known as: The fourth-largest lake in Maine; the former location of Flagstaff, Dead River, and Bigelow communities

Bordered by the Bigelow Mountain Range, Flagstaff Lake is a natural lake enlarged with the construction of Long Falls Dam on the Dead River by Central Maine Power in 1950.

The resulting lake is beautiful but came at the price of the communities of Flagstaff Plantation, Dead River Plantation, and Bigelow Township. Read up on the full story of Flagstaff plus a poem here.

Most of the southern shoreline of Flagstaff Lake is occupied by the Bigelow Preserve, which encompasses the entire Bigelow Mountain Range. Here, you have access to plenty of hiking trails, an overlook, and a portion of the Appalachian Trail.

Flagstaff Lake also features the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, a scenic water trail that runs through Quebec, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, and Maine.

Anglers can fish for landlocked salmon and brook trout, as well as rainbow smelt, yellow perch, chain pickerel, and pike.

Nearby Eustis or Stratton offers more lodging options, as well as opportunities for shopping and dining.

Essential Information
Location: Somerset and Franklin Counties, ME
Activities: Boating, swimming, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, biking, hunting, camping | Winter: Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling
Main access: Round Barn Campsites
Nearby services and amenities: Boat launches, hiking trails, picnic amenities
Where to stay: Cabins, campgrounds, RV parks
Nearby places of interest: Bigelow Preserve Public Reserved Land, Appalachian Trail Access, Maine Huts and Trails, Safford Overlook, High Peaks Scenic Byway
Best time to visit: June to August (perfect for swimming, fishing, and hiking); December to February (winter activities); September to November (spectacular fall foliage, hunting season)
More information:

8. Echo Lake

Echo Lake

Photo Credit: Christian Collins

Known as: The most popular freshwater swimming place on Mount Desert Island/Acadia National Park

Echo Lake is a picturesque, family-friendly lake on the western side of Mount Desert Island, some distance away from the busy part of Acadia National Park and the bustling Bar Harbor.

Sunbathing and swimming with the family are popular on Echo Lake Beach on the south side of the lake, as the water is relatively shallow and warm during the summer, the beach is shaded by forest trees, and you get a splendid view of Beech Mountain.

Hikers will be impressed with the trails leading to Beech Cliffs, Canada Cliffs, and Beech Mountain, while anglers will be pleased with the brook trout and landlocked salmon, as well as the smelt, hornpout, sunfish, and American eel that can be found here.

Birdwatchers are likely to spot some of the 300 bird species, including the bald eagle, hawks, geese, gulls, sandpipers, snipes, gulls, towhees, and many more.

Acadia National Park is one of the top 10 most visited national parks in the country with 3.5 million visits a year.

This park is actually one of our favorite places to write about in this site; we included it in our list of national parks you can’t miss, we’ve said that it’s one of the best places to see fall colors in the country, and nearby Blackwoods Campground is one of our picks for the best campgrounds in the US for families.

Nearby Bar Harbor can provide more options for lodging, dining, and shopping.

Essential Information
Location: Hancock County, ME
Activities: Boating, swimming, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, hiking, biking, birdwatching, golfing | Winter: cross-country skiing, snowshoeing
Main access: Echo Lake Beach
Nearby services and amenities: Boat launch, hiking trails, picnic amenities, restrooms, golf course
Where to stay: Vacation rentals, cottages, campgrounds, RV parks
Nearby places of interest: Little Echo Lake, Long Pond, Beech Mountain, Somes Sound, Charlotte Rhoades Butterfly Park, Wendell Gilley Museum, Bear Island Lighthouse, Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, Jordan Pond
Best time to visit: June to August (best for swimming, hiking; however, no boating or fishing allowed till mid-September); September to November (fall foliage); December to February (winter activities); March to mid-May (fishing)
More information:

9. Moosehead Lake

Moosehead Lake

Photo Credit: Andy Thrasher

Known as: The largest lake in Maine and the largest mountain lake in the eastern United States

Moosehead Lake is located in the Longfellow Mountains, close to Northwest Piscataquis.

With its 80 islands (the largest of which is Sugar Island), and Mount Kineo in the background, Moosehead Lake is one of the most scenic lakes in Maine.

Settle into a nice spot at Lily Bay State Park, featuring a swimming beach, picnic facilities, campgrounds, and more amenities.

Go boating to explore the islands, or fish for landlocked salmon, brook trout, and togue (lake trout), as well as bass and perch.

Hikers may want to climb Big Moose Mountain for a panoramic view of Moosehead Lake all the way north to Mount Katahdin, the highest point in Maine.

Nearby Greenville provides shopping, dining, and lodging options, as well as a floatplane rental for a bird’s eye view of the lake, so you can see that the lake does in fact look like a moose head from the air.

Also, moose outnumber people in this area. Try to catch a glimpse of them during the twilight hours, feeding or drinking water from the lake.

Essential Information
Location: Piscataquis County, ME
Activities: Boating, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, hiking, birdwatching, wildlife watching, picnicking, golfing, camping, | Winter: cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice fishing
Main access: Lily Bay State Park
Nearby services and amenities: Boat launches, hiking trails, playground, showers, restrooms, golf course
Where to stay: Vacation rentals, cabins, campgrounds, RV parks
Nearby places of interest: Moosehead Lake Scenic Byway, Little Moose Public Reserved Land, Mount Kineo State Park, Big Squaw Mountain, Big Moose Mountain
Best time to visit: June to August (moose watching); December to February (winter activities); March to May (fishing)
More information:

10. East Grand Lake

East Grand Lake

Known as: The best lake in Maine for salmon fishing

East Grand Lake is cut almost precisely in half by the border between the US and Canada and is part of the Chiputneticook chain of lakes.

Fishing is the main activity here, with salmon as the main catch. Anglers can also fish for lake trout, smallmouth bass, black bass, chain pickerel, American eel, and white and yellow perch.

Hunters can hunt for small game, such as woodcock and snowshoe rabbits.

Birdwatchers also frequent the area for the chance to observe bald eagles and loons, as well as spruce grouse, boreal chickadees, black-back woodpeckers, and yellow-bellied flycatchers. Wildlife watchers, on the other hand, try to spot moose, deer, bear, and coyotes.

Boating in East Grand Lake’s tranquil waters and simply taking in the scenery and wildlife is also popular here.

Danforth, located to the southwest of the lake, provide additional lodging and dining options, as well as conveniences such as supermarkets and a gas station.

Essential Information
Location: Aroostook County, ME
Activities: Boating, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, swimming, hiking, ATV riding, biking, hunting, birdwatching, wildlife watching, picnicking, camping | Winter: ice fishing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing
Main access: Greenland Cove Campground
Nearby services and amenities: Boat launches, hiking trails, biking trails, ATV trails, playground, swimming pools, restaurant
Where to stay: Vacation rentals, cabins, campgrounds, RV parks
Nearby places of interest: East Grand Overlook Trail, Million Dollar View Scenic Byway
Best time to visit: May, June, September (salmon fishing); December to February (winter activities); June to August (best for swimming)
More information:
Greater East Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce

Start planning your vacation to one of these lakes in Maine!

Picking out 10 of the 6,000 lakes in Maine is not easy, but I hope it inspires you to consider Maine for your next freshwater expedition!

Which of these lakes are you interested in visiting? Or have you ever been to any of these lakes? How was the experience? Share your stories with us in the comments!