By Joe Hebert
01 Pleasant Lake, Island Falls
On the fringes of Island Falls, just half an hour or so from the New Brunswick, Canada, border, lies Pleasant Lake. Frozen from December to May, the lake attracts ice fisherman and skaters to its shores. In the summer, take a canoe out on the gentle waters or pick a rock in Dinsmore Cove to sun on.
02 Moosehead Lake, Northwest Piscataquis County
Arguably the first eco-tourist, Henry David Thoreau, paddled the length of Moosehead Lake in the mid-nineteenth century. Blanketed in pine and surrounded by mountains, to this day it remains “the wildest country” Thoreau wrote about. Bring along a copy of The Maine Woods and reflect on his words as you float in the crystal-clear waters, hike a stretch of the Appalachian Trail, or warm your hands by a campfire.
03 Little Sebago Lake, Gray
Bring a book out to a weatherworn dock and let the water lap beneath you, or follow the happy howls to find a line of swimmers awaiting their turn on the rope swing. At dusk, when the sun has nearly set and the spires of trees have turned to silhouettes, listen for the cry of the loon.
04 Crater Lake, Tumbledown Mountain
Near the New Hampshire border, north of Weld, and atop Tumbledown Mountain, hikers will find Crater Lake—a body of water so remote that directions are best given in landmarks. Hike the Tumbledown Ridge Trail on a hot summer day and reward yourself with a reviving dip in the ice-cold waters near the mountain’s summit and a picnic lunch beneath the shade of a shaggy spruce.
05 Mooselookmeguntic Lake, Rangeley
Providing the kind of monumental beauty that you would hit the brakes for, the lake boasts unparalleled views and unblemished natural scenes. The name, Mooselookmeguntic, originates from the Abenaki phrase “moose feeding among the trees.” Around the lake, you will find a diversity of protected parcels perfect for camping, wildlife watching, and hiking.
06 Cathance Lake, Cooper
The shoreline here is mostly wild with bramble and birch, but a long peninsula jutting into the center makes Cathance Lake a favorite spot for hooking salmon, bass, and brook trout. For the best fishing, try the bottomless waters of Sand and Deep Coves. If you are going for a few days, consider renting a lakeside cottage or staying in a charming bed-and-breakfast in nearby Lubec.