Flatwater Kayaking in Maine
Towering pine forests reflect in glassy waters, punctuated by the occasional wandering moose strolling along Maine’s 4,500 square miles of inland waterways.
Gliding soundlessly along in a kayak is one of the best ways to see the immense creatures and other wildlife from a respectful distance.
Enjoy paddling Maine‘s public waters on a quiet backwater pond, a winding river or seaside estuary.
Float a Wild River
In the mid-19th century, author Henry David Thoreau described Maine’s north woods as a “grim and wild land.” Retrace his adventures along the Allagash River from its headwaters north of Mt. Katahdin — the tallest peak in the state — to its confluence with the St. John River.
The entire 92-mile course takes about nine days to complete, with primitive campsites providing picnic tables and fire rings. In addition to enjoying views of Katahdin and miles of lonely forest, you’re likely to see moose munching on underwater vegetation and eagles soaring high above. Multiple access points allow you to plan a day trip, such as the nearly 6 miles between Allagash Lake and Chamberlain Lake.
Head Out on a Lake
Moosehead Lake is Maine’s largest, situated in the Longfellow Mountains in the heart of the state. The lake covers 120 square miles with about 300 islands within its boundaries.
Although the lake is basically flat water, the prevailing wind from the northwest sometimes whips up waves capable of capsizing your kayak. Coves along the shoreline provide the quietest waters, and smaller lakes in the chain — including Brassua, Chesuncook, Lobster and Seboomook lakes — make less tempestuous places to paddle on a windy day.
Free campsites around the lake’s shore offer the opportunity for a multi-day adventure.
Explore an Estuary
Breathe in refreshing sea air with a relaxing paddle in one of Maine’s many seaside marshes and estuaries. Paddle the quiet backwaters of Scarborough Marsh, the state’s most expansive salt marsh.
The Maine Audubon society rents kayaks at the marsh for exploring the estuary’s 3,100 acres. The Wild Duck Campground and RV Park lies along the shores of the Scarborough River in the estuary, with adult-only camping for RV and tent campers as well as a dock where you can set off in your canoe in the estuary.
The estuary is open marsh with little shade and plenty of biting flies, so bring sunscreen and repellent.
Across the Pond
Maine provides the public with the right to use any pond larger than 10 acres, which opens up hundreds of paddling opportunities throughout the state. Great Pond in Cape Elizabeth lies about a third of a mile from the ocean.
The pond covers 40 acres ideal for kayak fishing and bird-watching, tucking into woodlands surrounded by open fields and wetlands that allow you to view wildlife such as water birds and beaver as you paddle the waters.
The pond’s jagged shoreline has quiet coves where you can stop for a picnic as well as a hiking trail along the northern shore.
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