“Maine, the Way Life Should Be”, the state slogan that represents the way you feel while living and vacationing in Maine. Visiting Moosehead Lake is an experience that will stay with you for a lifetime.
Moosehead Lake is the largest lake in New England located about 70 miles north of Bangor Maine. It covers 75,000 acres and stretches 40 miles long and 12 miles wide.
Greenville and Rockwood Maine are the towns that surround Moosehead Lake. This area is known for moose as they outnumber residences 3 to 1.
The lake sits at 1,000 feet above sea level with mountains located all around the area. Mt. Kineo rises abruptly from the middle of the lake towering 800 feet above the water.
Moosehead Lake can be as smooth as silk and as rough as sandpaper, so caution is needed when on the lake. I’ve seen 5-foot waves on this lake and also have gone swimming in cool calm waters.
There is so much to do and see in the Moosehead Lake area, especially for outdoor enthusiasts. Below is a list of places to visit, things to do, places to stay and restaurants to eat at.
Tips when visiting the Moosehead Lake Area
- May and June are black fly season so come prepared with the proper clothing (hats with screens, etc) to make your trip comfortable
- Always bring bug spray because this is a wooded area
- Always be aware when driving especially in the morning and evening and be alert for moose.
- The weather can change rapidly in the mountains so always be prepared and layer your clothes.
Lily Bay State Park
Located 9 miles north of Greenville, Lily Bay State Park offers camping, fishing, boating, swimming, hiking, animal watching, and picnicking on the shores of Moosehead Lake. During winter months you can cross-country ski, snowmobile and ice fish in this area. They also have 2 areas to launch your boats.
The 925 acres making up the park was donated in 1959 by the Scott Paper Company. Today this beautiful state park is enjoyed by many.
The park offers stunning views of the lake. I’ve camped here (no hookup) several times and many of the campsites are right on the lake so you can canoe right from your site. There are two campgrounds here accommodating all types of camping from tents to 40’ RVs.
Hiking in Lily Bay State Park
Dunn Point Trail
This 1.3-mile easy flat trail goes through the forest and also passes the shore by the small beach where you can go swimming in the park. There are signs along the way with information about the tress in the park.
Rowell Cove Trail
This .8 mile easy hike is in another section of the park and goes along the shore of Moosehead Lake.
Wildlife in the park includes fox, raccoon, deer, and moose. Watch by the shore of the lake for loom and listen to the “cry” that they make.
Lily Bay State Park is a must-visit area when traveling to the Moosehead Lake region.
This is my favorite hike in Maine. This circuit hike can be strenuous at times, but the scenery is so worth the effort.
This remote hike through the “Grand Canyon of Maine” goes along the Pleasant River through a 400-foot gorge that is over 4 miles long. There is a series of waterfalls throughout the gorge area. This hike is within the 100-mile wilderness section of the Appalachian Trail.
Depending on how long of a hike you want to do, you can take a shorter 3.5-mile round trip and turn around at Screw Augar Falls.
If you continue on the Rim Trail through the whole gorge you can return by the Pleasant River Tote Road for an 8-mile hike from the Gulf Hugas parking area or an 8.6 mile from Head of the Gulf Trail parking area.
Although the trail is pretty flat, its very rocky with rough footing so it will take you longer than expected.
Mount Kineo Fire Tower
Mount Kineo is in the middle of Moosehead Lake. Just getting to the Mt. Kineo trail is part of the adventure. You will need to take a boat (shuttles leave from the Rockwood town boat launch) to access the trails that begin at the Mt Kineo Golf Course.
This 3.4-mile loop includes 3 different trails. You start off on the Carriage Trail that you get by the dock at the golf course. From there you take the Indian Trail.
This trail is steep and can be difficult at times as you ascend 1000-foot elevation to the top of the summit of Mt. Kineo. You will reach the fire tower where you can climb up to see stunning views of Moosehead Lake.
To continue on the loop, you will descend down by the Bridle Trail until you reach the Carriage trail that will get you back to the golf course where you can take the shuttle back to Rockwood.
When waiting for the shuttle, the gulf course has a snack bar that serves ice cream and beverages.
This easy hike goes to one of Maine’s tallest and nicest waterfalls.
The 2.5-mile round trip hike is mostly level beginning through woods than to a boardwalk going to Moxie Stream. The upper falls are to the right and the lower fall is to the left.
The upper falls are a series of step falls. There isn’t a “trail” going upstream but you can walk along the river bank. If you continue on the boardwalk you reach the 89-foot lower falls. The falls are surrounded by a gorge wall. Continue around the rim to get the best view of the falls.
This 6-mile trail offers a stunning view of both Moosehead Lake and Mt. Katahdin. It is also the home of the first fire tower in the United States built in 1905 on Big Moose Mountain.
For more information on hiking in Maine see my related post 10 Incredible Hikes in Maine.
White Water Rafting
Moosehead Lake sits between 3 rivers known for its white water, the Kennebec, the Penobscot, and the Dead. These rivers offer great white-water experiences for all, with Class I to Class V rapids.
There are numerous outdoor adventure companies offering tours down these rivers. These rivers can be dangerous, and it is recommended that you only tackle them with an experienced Maine guide.
We went white water rafting with our kids down the Kennebec some years ago. What an experience that we still talk about today! It was an overnight trip which was not only a great time but taught my kids responsibility, how to work together as a group and how to listen to the leader (guide). This was truly an experience of a lifetime.
Here is a list of the outfitters in the area that will give you an experience of a lifetime, there is nothing better than the thrill of being on the river. These companies supply everything you need for a fun day and even supply food for your river trip.
Moose outnumber people 3 to 1 in this area of Maine so always be on the lookout for them. It is nothing more exciting than seeing a moose in the wild. And always remember as gentle as they seem, they are wild animals and you should always keep your distance.
Here are a few of the hotspots in the Moosehead Lake area to see moose:
DOT (Department of Transportation) in Greenville—South about 4.5 miles from the Visitors Center is the best place to see moose in the area.
Lily Bay Road (Kokadjo)—Take this scenic drive on Lily Bay Road, north of Greenville into the town of Kokakdjo. Keep your eyes open and stay alert along this 20-mile drive. It’s a great place to spot moose.
Lazy Tom Bog—If you reached Kokajdo and still haven’t seen moose or just want to see some more, check out this bog. Continue north past the bridge in Kokadjo and stay to your left, then take the intersection to the left and continue for half a mile more to the bridge over Lazy Tom Stream. Just hang out there for a while, you will have a great chance of seeing moose.
Drive between Greenville and Rockwood—Drive along Route 15 between Greenville and Rockwood. This is another great area to spot moose, right along the road.
For more places to spot moose check out this article Where to see Moose in Maine.
If you haven’t seen moose on your own, there are several moose safari’s you can take in this area. Maine guides know where the moose hang out and it’s always a fun time hearing all their stories about all the wildlife within the North Woods of Maine.
Here are some places that offer Moose Safari’s:
- Ancor Guide Service
- The Birches
- Canders Guest House b& Cottages
- Greenwood Motel
- Historic Pittston Farm
- Maine Guide Fly Shop
- Nahmakanta Lake Wilderness Camps
- New England Outdoor Center
- North Country Rivers
- Northern Outdoors
- Northwoods Outfitters
- Wilson on Moosehead Lake
You can take a floatplane ride over Moosehead Lake and experience the scenery of the lake and the surrounding mountains in a totally different light.
The weekend after Labor Day is the annual Sea Plane Fly In. This event draws pilots from all over the country to fly over the waters of Moosehead Lake.
A huge festival occurs with the largest craft fair in the area, lots of food and so much more. Come see all different types of sea planes and learn the history of this sport.
There are several companies who offer float (sea) plane rides throughout the year. We did this one year and it was truly a thrilling experience.
Currier’s Flying Service, Jack’s Air Service, and Penobscot Island Air Service offers this type of experience.
Baxter State Park
When in the Moosehead Lake area we always take a day trip to Maine, True Wilderness, Baxter State Park. Its about a 2 hour ride on Golden Road which is an experience all by itself.
Here you can read my detailed post about what to do and see in Baxter State Park. Link It is really worth the trip and we go there every time we visit Moosehead.
Moosehead Lake is a boater’s paradise. Motorboats are allowed on the lake and the lake is marked with hazard buoys 200’ from the shore. The best time for boating is Memorial Day weekend through late September. The water is higher earlier in the season and can lose at least 3 feet as time goes by so caution is needed in the coves and by the shore. You can launch your private boat in Greenville, Rockwood, and Seboomook public areas.
I’ve canoed on Moosehead Lake numerous times (we usually go late August and early September) but caution is needed as sometimes the lake can get really too rough for a canoe or kayak.
There are numerous ponds/lakes in the Moosehead area that don’t allow motorboats and are great for paddling. Also, at times you can be the only ones around. Some of my favorite surrounding lakes are Wilson Ponds, Prong Pond, Brassua Lake, Mountain View Pond, Sawyer and Indian Pond, and First Roach Pond.
There are rentals in the area that are willing to deliver and pick up the boat of your choice at the location of your choice. Maine shops and guides are very accommodating to satisfy your boating needs.
Moosehead Lake along with many smaller ponds (40 within an hour’s drive) is a great place to put in that fishing pole and relax for a few hours. The area is known for its lake trout, brook trout, blueback trout, smallmouth bass (in the shallow waters by Lily Bay State Park) and landlocked salmon.
On the west side of Moosehead Lake (15 minutes from Greenville) sits the East Outlet of the Kennebec River which is a 3.5-mile fly-fishing only area famous for its landlocked salmon and brook trout. Not to far away from this is another fly-fishing only spot on the Roach River (near the town of Kokadjo) known for its superior fishing.
There are so many more other places to go fishing either from the shore, boat or fly-fishing. Maine’s guides and outfitters are located in Greenville and Rockwood for your dream fishing trips.
For information on season openings, regulations and licenses visit Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
Originally owned by Scott Paper Company, The Katahdin (built-in 1914 by the Bath Iron Works) along with other ships were used to haul livestock, supplies, equipment, and passengers across Moosehead Lake as the main form of transportation in the area. For years the Katahdin was used as a tugboat hauling pulpwood rafts across the lake.
In 1977, Scott Paper Company gave the last remaining steamboat to the Moosehead Marine Museum and in 1985 the Katahdin once again sailed the lake as a tourist boat.
Today during the summer months, the Katahdin offers cruises to two areas on Moosehead Lake, Sugar Island, and Mt. Kineo. For information on days and times, this steamboat runs refer to their website.
Greenville Maine is the gateway to the Moosehead Lake Region and the biggest town around the lake with a population of around 2,000 and a seasonal population of over 6,000. It is the hub of your Moosehead Lake vacation.
The Indian Hill Trading Post is the biggest store in town to get supplies. They have a full-service grocery store for all your needs including a liquor store, gas station, clothes store, outdoor equipment (such as canoes, hiking gear, etc.) and souvenirs.
There are numerous restaurants and lodging available in town as well as small shops. There are also many places that you can book Maine guides for all activities. It is a quaint town that is nice just to walk around and get some ice cream.
This is my favorite restaurant in Greenville as you get to enjoy the views of Moosehead Lake while enjoying a delicious meal. My favorite thing on the menu is their Lobster Pie and I highly recommend it.
Kelly’s serves, breakfast lunch and dinner 7 days a week and has a Sunday Brunch. They also offer limited lodging as there is a log cabin (sleeps up to 14) they rent as well as (2) one-bedroom suites (4 people) and (1) two-bedroom suite (6 people).
Go to Auntie M’s for the best breakfast in the Moosehead area. This restaurant serves breakfast and lunch only and is rated the #1 restaurant in town. Note: They don’t accept credit cards so please bring cash.
Located on Main Street, this family-owned restaurant has good food and service. Prime Rib and chowder are their specialties so give it a try you won’t be disappointed.
Stress Free Moose Pub & Café
If you’re looking for good food and service with a fun atmosphere, the Stress Free Moose Pub is for you. This is a burger, fries and beer place that also makes good sandwiches.
Flatlanders is a small local eatery with good food known for its broasted chicken dinners and lobster rolls. You won’t be disappointed with whatever you choose. The service is also good.
There are many different types of accommodations and places to stay in the Greenville area. You can choose from lakeside cottages and rustic cabins, motels, private rentals, Inns, B&Bs, lodges and sporting camps and campgrounds. What you won’t find here is a Holiday Inn or Marriot.
Here are just a few in the area as there are way too many to list:
Wilson’s on Moosehead Lake
Wilsons has been on the lake for over 100 years. Located in a great spot right on the lake between Greenville and Rockwood, you won’t regret coming here. It’s one of my favorite places in the area.
Their rustic cottages can accommodate from 2 people to 10 people. All the cottages have an outside screened in sitting area to enjoy the scenic views of the lake without the worry of insects.
They rent different types of watercraft including motorboats, canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards. They also have a guide service available for fishing, hunting and moose and wildlife excursions.
If you’re looking for luxury accommodations, you will love the Greenville Inn B&B and cottages. They have suites in the main lodge and have cottages on site. Your stay includes breakfast at a private table. They also can arrange moose safaris, fishing tours and other trips with Maine guides to enhance your stay.
Kineo View Lodge
Affordable lodging overlooking Mt Kineo and Moosehead Lake. They have several different room types, most with balconies and efficiencies. These rooms are clean and the staff is friendly but rooms could use some updating.
For more information on lodging visit Moosehead Lake area visitor center.
Rockwood Maine is located about 15 miles northwest of Greenville. The road between the two towns is a great place to see moose. (Route 15).
Rockwood is smaller than Greenville with much fewer amenities. Its main purpose is to serve tourism on the west side of Moosehead Lake and the gateway to Mt. Kineo. For any supplies, you would need to go into Greenville.
The Birches Resort
A full-service resort on Moosehead Lake featuring all types of accommodations and a full restaurant and bar. Also, they have a full-service marina for all your boating needs as well as numerous activities such as moose safaris.
Accommodations include rustic cabins, lodge room, vacation home rentals for larger groups, tent camping, RV camping with electric and water hook-up, wilderness hurts and camping cabins. During peak seasons, you can also get an American meal plan included with your lodging.
The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and also has a full-service bar. You do not need to be staying at the Birches to enjoy the restaurant. I’ve never stayed here but have taken their moose safari and also have eaten at the restaurant many times.
Gray Ghost Camps
A nice camp with cabins on the shore of Moosehead Lake. These cabins have full kitchens and baths. You can fish from right outside your cabins or enjoy a campfire in the evening overlooking Mt. Kineo.
They also offer boat rentals, mostly canoes, and rowboats for your convenience.
Located on the Moose Rive just a 10-minute boat ride from Moosehead Lake, Maynards has been a Rockwood tradition for the last 100 years. Now being run by the fifth and sixth generations of Maynard’s you can rent one of 13 cabins without or without a kitchen.
They have a dock with boats (both with and without motors) that they rent or you can bring your own and keep it at their dock during your stay. The Moose River offers great fishing opportunities and well as beautiful views of the stars at night.
Maynards also has a restaurant (open to all) which serves a full menu breakfast and family-style set dinners that change daily. They do not serve alcohol, but you can bring her own if you wish.
Tomhegan Wilderness Resorts
Located on the nicest section of Moosehead Lake is this 100-year-old establishment. Tomhegan has 11 rental cabins accommodating from 5 to 9 people and they also have a lodge that sleeps up to 26.
You feel like you’re at a private resort when you drive down their 4-mile private road to reach this remote location. Each cabin is different and most have been recently renovated or updated but still have that rustic charm.
Each cabin comes with a firepit located neat the lake for you to enjoy your evenings. Wildlife is all over. We stayed here and saw moose, deer, and loom.
In addition to the Birches Resort and Maynards, the only other real restaurant in town is the Rockwood Bar & Grill. This place is a small-town restaurant with a big personality. The food is good, service is friendly, and they even have live music on weekends. So, when in town, this is a must-stop to enjoy an evening.
Final Thoughts on Moosehead Lake
With so many things to do in the Moosehead Lake area, you won’t regret vacationing here. Hiking, boating, paddling, white-water rafting and moose watching to name a few.
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