Camping on Moosehead Lake in Northern Maine

April 6, 2010


Nearly every spring my old high school buddies and I head out on a 3 to 4 day camping and fishing trip to a remote location in Northern Maine. While this year’s adventure is still a couple of months away, I wanted to reflect on last year’s excursion to the Moosehead Lake Region with the idea that it might inspire other people to get out and see this great part of the world.

The State of Maine maintains dozens of campsites along Moosehead Lake that are available on a first come first serve basis. Most campsites are provided with a picnic table, fire pit w/grill, and privy (rustic outhouse). Fire permits are usually not required for campfires at these sites as long as they are contained in the designated fire pits. During July and August, these sites can fill up quickly, but we rarely have a problem getting the site we want in early June.

Since my buddies and I are now scattered throughout the state and beyond, we meet in Bangor, ME to pick up supplies and then head north up Rt. 15 towards the lake with our boats in tow. The drive up Rt. 15 is breathtaking and you are almost guaranteed to see Moose once your start getting closer to Greenville (the southern most town on the tip of Moosehead Lake).

Just before you get into Greenville you will see the Indian Hill Trading Post on your right hand side. This is one of my favorite stores in the state and you can buy anything you may need for an extended wilderness adventure. The locals are always friendly and more than generous in sharing tips from finding the best camping spot, to landing a trophy salmon or trout.

After grabbing a bite to eat, topping off on gas, and picking up some last minute supplies, we headed up the eastern side of the lake to launch our boats at the Lily Bay State Park. Although you’ll pay a fee at the Lilly Bay State Park, it is one of the most convenient areas on the lake to launch your boat with plenty of parking, and an accessible boat ramp and dock system.

Only a few of Moosehead Lake’s state maintained campsites can be reached by car, with most accessible only by boat or a long hike. Moosehead Lake is over 40 miles long with lots of bays, coves, and inlets that can be very disorienting even to seasoned boaters. You’re well advised to pick up a lake chart before heading out into the open waters and study it before you depart. Not only do these charts show navigational hazards to avoid, they also have the location of all the public campsites on the lake.


Here we are heading out past the safe water marker in Lilly Bay towards open water. Remember, Moosehead is a big lake and waves can easily build to 3 or 4 feet on windy days. You can see from the picture above the waves were building to 2-3 ft in less than 20mph winds. Be sure to check the weather forecast before heading out into the open part of the lake. It’s also a good idea to let someone know what your “voyage plan” is. Larger lakes like Moosehead can become a search and rescue nightmare if officials don’t have a general idea of where to find you in an emergency.

Each campsite is unique with its own special characteristics. Some sites are elevated overlooking the lake, while others are near the water’s edge with fine sandy beaches. This picture was taken from the spot where I eventually set up my tent and as you can see the area is breathtaking.

If you love the outdoors, you owe yourself a trip to Northern Maine to experience the beauty of the Moosehead Lake region, you won’t be disappointed!

If you have a story to share about an experience on Moosehead Lake, please leave a comment in the form provided below!

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

David April 13, 2010 at 8:35 am

I’ve always wanted to make it back to Moosehead Lake. Haven’t been there since I was a kid, and we stayed at a hotel while visiting. We were there for Independence Day. I remember eating at a Roadkill Cafe for the first time at Moosehead Lake.

Hiking Lady April 13, 2010 at 10:59 pm

Sounds like a great trip! I haven’t been to Moosehead Lake, but I have been to Acadia NP and thought it was gorgeous – great hiking there!

Have a wonderful time!

Joanne Davidson June 3, 2011 at 4:12 pm

My brother an author has written a book called The Ledge could you plz send me your email address so he may contact you

Camp System September 26, 2012 at 7:23 am

Useful post and great responses. Interesting, clear and precise. Thank you for the info Ben.

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