Canoeing & Kayaking

The Downeast Lakes region around Grand Lake Stream, Maine is the connection for traditional canoe travel between the Saint Croix, Machias, and Penobscot River watersheds. These rivers and the Downeast Lakes offer exceptional opportunities for multi-day canoe or kayak trips. These trips rival any in the northeast for solitude, beauty, and adventure.

Downeast Lakes Water Trail Brochure

DLLT has created the Downeast Lakes Water Trail campsites to support this recreational use. Nine water-access campsites allow a variety of options for multi-day trips, and can be combined with visits to additional sites maintained by the Maine Division of Parks and Lands and the Passamaquoddy Tribe. With a canoe, basic camping gear, and some preparation, any family can enjoy spending a night, or a week, on the shores of the Downeast Lakes while listening to the calls of the loons or looking for a moose. The large lakes can quickly develop challenging or hazardous paddling conditions in strong winds, so paddlers must remain alert.  Permits required for campfires are available from the Maine Forest Service at 207-827-1800. The Maine Division of Parks and Lands also offers some campsites nearby that can be accessed by vehicle.

Not looking to camp? Day trip options abound. Choose an island or one of the Water Trail campsites for a picnic destination. The quiet Wabassus Lake is surrounded by the Downeast Lakes Community Forest, and has a convenient boat access available off the Fourth Lake Road.

Big Musquash Stream offers an extraordinary scenery and wildlife viewing opportunity – put in at the bridge on Milford Road, and paddle as far upstream as you wish through the gentle meanders. In sight from the bridge is an esker (a ridge of glacial sediments) covered by upland forest that makes a good destination for a snack or a hike. After about 6 miles you’ll leave the open wetlands and paddle through the forest; you will also begin to encounter beaver dams that can be portaged. You’re certain to see ducks, and likely to see muskrat and beaver, with a good chance of spotting deer, moose, or a river otter. This is also a good option for a windy day when the waves pick up on the larger lakes. The west shore of Big Musquash stream is the eastern border of the Downeast Lakes Community Forest.

Paddlers should also consider participating in the annual West Grand Lake Race, held every August. Choose a 4 mile, 6 mile, or 12 mile race, each around an island in West Grand Lake, starting and finishing at the boat landing in Grand Lake Stream. After the race, there’s a barbecue lunch at Grand Lake Lodge. This fun event attracts both families and serious canoe racers.