Located in the Maine Highlands of west-central Maine, a drive of three hours from Portland, the Moosehead Lake region is a place of incomparable and wild natural beauty centered on the lake and moving outward to encompass rivers, waterfalls, and mountains. Residents and visitors enjoy and cherish outdoor activities. Several regional towns, particularly Greenville, on Route 6 at the southernmost tip of the lake, provide all plenty of lodging, dining, outdoor equipment and guides. Outdoor activities are in style year-round, with a busy winter season of snowmobiling, ice fishing, skiing and even dog sledding.
The gateway to the region for travelers using I-95 and coming from population centers near the coast is the city of Bangor, where visitors are greeted by a big statue of Paul Bunyan. The Maine Forest and Logging Museum is an authentic reconstruction of a logging community. Bangor offers fun shopping in a 19th-century neighborhood and the popular Maine Discovery Museum is the largest children’s museum north of Boston.
Destination Moosehead Lake, a regional welcome organization, offers an exhaustive website with detailed instructions about where to find, get equipped, and get guidance to ride ATVs, hike, hunt, go fishing, get out on a boat, and, in winter, to try snowmobiling, dog sledding or other snow sports. Registered Maine guides are available to equip and safely guide you on a new outdoor sporting adventure. Keep in mind that, in a region of open spaces and small town, there is little urban air pollution or artificial lighting, so star-gazing is superb, with easy viewing of the Milky Way and the Northern Lights during most of the year.
There are several public boat launches and marinas where you can launch your own boat onto Moosehead Lake. Boat rentals also are available. If you love to relax, let someone else do the piloting, and learn about your surroundings, Katahdin Cruises hosts lake trips on the steamboat Katahdin, built in 1914 by the young shipyard Bath Iron Works. “The Kate” embarks from the Moosehead Marine Museum in Greenville, offering guided cruises of the lake that include indoor and outdoor deck seating, food service, and a running description of the history of the lakes and region. But wait! Be advised that the region has glorious waterfalls, including some that are pretty close to roads and accessible by foot.
Because of the rugged and outdoor nature of the region, there is an emphasis on lodgings close to nature, like campgrounds (for RVs or tents) and sporting camps, which offer accommodations close to nature along with outdoor recreation experiences for individuals and families. You can find cabins or cottages near the lake on near trails, and you can even stay in a yurt. The less-rustic option of popular bed-and-breakfast inns is also abundant. Vacation homes are a great option to allow bigger groups, like extended families, to have their own full house in which to spread out and to receive a flow of coming-and-going guests.
If you’re ensconced in a vacation rental, you have the flexibility of food prep at home, using the town grocery stores and delis of Greenville, Monson, Rockwood, Kokadjo, Shirley, and Abbott. Eateries, including lakeside restaurants and pubs and the restaurants operated by resorts and inns, are scattered around the whole area and easy to find.
In addition to almost all of the sports and adventures mentioned above, a great outdoor playground, Lily Bay State Park, is located right on the shore of Moosehead Lake, in Greenville. Families can use the boat launch, wander the 2-mile walking trail along the shore, do every manner of water sports, and stay in the park campground. F or an out-of-the-ordinary adventure, families can arrange to take a flight on a seaplane, or go on a Moose Safari. Like grown-ups, kids like to shop. A favorite place for youngsters to buy vacation memorabilia is the Indian Store at Kamp Kamp in Greenville. Annual community festivals that everyone enjoys are Moosemania in the spring, the International Seaplane Fly-In in the fall, and Snowfest in the winter, with a sled dog race, a chocolate festival and an ice fishing tournament.