Flagstaff Lake is one of Maine's largest alpine lakes and is a highlight on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. Day trip and multi-day trip opportunities abound. The lake is nearly surrounded by the Bigelow Preserve which ensures its wilderness appeal for years to come.
|The Bigelows loom over the lake like natural skyscrapers|
Although technically a reservoir, Flagstaff Lake is somewhat of a natural wonder in Maine. The original course of the Dead River was probably much more impressive, but us outdoorsmen and women of the 21st century must go with what's available. Now that Flagstaff's dirty secret is out of the way, I'd have to say that kayaking the lake was a wonderful flat water trip. The lack of crowds or resorts made for a true back country trip.
Here's a general map of the area for paddling purposes. Please check with the Bigelow Public Reserve Land
before selecting a campsite-
As you can see, the area is extensive and accommodations range from tiny, primitive campsites to the more posh (by Maine standards) Maine Huts and Trails
location and the motels/hotels in Stratton and Eustis. Whatever your pleasure is for staying overnight, it is there on Flagstaff. Personally, I go for the free back country sites, however the Maine Huts and Trails is something everyone should do at some point.
I put in there at the boat launch in Stratton, just north of the town center. Its a perfect site for big and small boat launches and serves as a great start. The Bigelow Horns rise just off to the east and the imposing profile of East Kennebago Mountain dominates the view west. Sugarloaf and the Crocker Range rise to the South. You paddle beneath the giants.
|From Left to Right, East Nubble, the Horns and Cranberry Peak|
|East Kennebago rises off in the distance|
As opposed to the lakes in southern Maine which are often congested and busy with tubers and water skiers, Flagstaff Lake was pretty empty. A few pontoon boats passed by but they were very courteous. I'm guessing most people up these ways are more experienced boaters and not the drunk and obnoxious crowd that frequently inhabits lake country. I paddled without any annoyances.
As I came out of the southwest arm of the lake, the Bigelow Range's profile came into perfect view. There were many small islands without any camps nor development which allowed for nice landings and breaks. A few of them have primitive campsites, or at least room enough for a small tent. I would have liked to have camped a night or two out here under the stars and the shadow of the Bigelows.
|A thunderstorm rolled in quickly!|
Unfortunately the weather was against me on the way back to Stratton. A strong thunderstorm rolled in quickly and I was caught in the middle of it. I took shelter on a small island but didn't save myself from getting soaked to the bone. Oh well... this is kayaking.
Despite the rain, I did still manage to get many pictures and enjoy a relatively easy paddle across the lake. Wind was calm and there were no discernible currents. I've been paddling so much in the ocean lately that I've forgotten how nice it is to not worry about tides, winds and currents! I was able to glide across the lake at a very rapid pace without expending too much energy. It was a perfect day paddle. Although I would have liked to spend more time up here, I had more mountains to climb so I pulled back in to Stratton, had dinner at the Stratton Plaza
and camped out overnight.
Read. Plan. Get Out There!