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Paddling & Camping

Lake and canoeThe 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.

Canoeing in the fallDLLT 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 Bureau of Parks and Lands and the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot Tribes. 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.  Camping on the Downeast Lakes Water Trail is free, and sites are available on a first-come basis. Permits required for campfires are available from the Maine Forest Service at 207-827-1800.

Not looking to camp? Day trip options abound. Choose an island or one of the Water Trail campsites for a picnic destination. If you don’t know the area very well, a knowledgeable Registered Maine Guide can lead you on many different excursions in the Downeast Lakes region.

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. For young paddlers, a kids’ division races a short course within a protected cove. After the race, there’s a barbecue lunch and awards ceremony. This fun event attracts both families and serious racers. Any self-propelled watercraft may participate.

Paddling with kids