Maine is known for its natural beauty, and Moosehead Lake is just one of its crown jewels. This massive lake is the largest one in the state, so there’s plenty of room to enjoy the water and surrounding areas. With several charming communities scattered around the shoreline, cozy Moosehead Lake vacation rentals are easy to find all year. While you and your family are staying in the area, here are some fun kid-friendly activities to try out.
1. Explore the Trails
The area around Moosehead Lake is home to plenty of networks of trails suitable for all ages. You can take a quick half-day hike to Moxie Falls, the largest waterfall in Maine, or take a more challenging trek up nearby Mount Kineo or Gulf Hagas with older kids. Guided hikes are also a popular option and offered by several local outfitters.
2. Watch the Wildlife
The Moosehead Lake region is teeming with wildlife. Moose are the most popular local residents, and, there is quite a bit of good information about moose viewing locations, as well as guided moose safaris and canoe tours that can increase your chances of seeing these impressive animals. Birdwatching is also a popular activity due to the large population of water birds, eagles, and other beautiful species. Just remember to keep your distance for your safety and that of the animals.
3. Canoe or Kayak
The smooth waters of Moosehead Lake are a blast to explore by canoe or kayak. More than 80 islands are scattered throughout the lake, so you can easily paddle out to explore them as well as exploring the main shoreline. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy your own private vacation spot. You can rent equipment from numerous local outfitters, or, bring your own gear and store it in your vacation rental between uses.
4. Cruise On an Old-Fashioned Steamboat
Take a step back in time by going for a ride on the Katahdin, an old-fashioned steamboat that offers affordable daily cruises around the lake. These fun cruises last three to four hours depending on the route and have fantastic wildlife and scenery viewing opportunities. Before your cruise, be sure to visit the Moosehead Marine Museum to learn about the area’s unusual history.
5. Ride a Dog Sled
If you’re visiting the winter months, take advantage of the snowy conditions by going on an unforgettable dog sled ride. Professional mushers let you and your family relax while they handle the steering and handling. Also, you can take lessons to learn how to control the dogs yourself. There’s also an annual 100-mile race, so if you are in the area during the race finale can stop by the finish line and cheer on your favorite teams.
6. Raft Down a River
There are several rivers in the area that offer excellent rapids for beginners or experienced rafters. Guided trips down the Kennebec River are usually the best for younger kids and novices, while the Penobscot River offers more challenging Class V rapids. Most trips do have a minimum age limit and size requirements for safety, so plan ahead if you’re traveling with kids under the age of eight.
7. Travel By Floatplane
The spacious waters of Moosehead Lake make it popular among floatplane pilots. Every year there’s a Seaplane Fly-In festival where pilots show off their skills, compete in races, and offer rides and education to tourists. During the rest of the year, you can charter a private floatplane to take an aerial tour of the North Woods and experience the fun of landing on water.
8. Ski and Snowboard
Winter offers plenty of outdoor recreation in Maine. Big Squaw Mountain, which is on the western side of the lake, is a popular downhill skiing and snowboarding resort with plenty of easy trails for younger kids or inexperienced skiers, as well as equipment rentals and lessons for novices. Older kids may enjoy learning how to cross-country ski, which provides a peaceful way to explore the trails during the winter months.
9. Explore the Ice Caves
If you want to cool down during the summer, head north to the Debsconeag Lakes Wilderness Area and take the Ice Cave Trail. This short one-mile hike leads you to the mouth of caverns that stay iced for most of the year. The trail to get to the caves is fairly easy, although it is rocky and uneven. Be careful once you get to the caves, though, as they are very slippery and can be dangerous. If you have small children with you, skip the ice caves and stroll around the beautiful lakes instead.
10. Go Fish
The Moosehead Lake region offers plenty of year-round fishing opportunities if you’re interested in catching your own dinner to fry up in your vacation rental’s kitchen. Fishing guides are available to help you find the best local spots, or you can find general information at regional visitor centers or from the Moosehead Lake Region Chamber of Commerce. During the winter, ice fishing is a popular pastime. You can rent an ice shack to help you stay warm and dry during the heart of winter, and bring your own gear or rent bait, tackle, and other necessary equipment from one of numerous outfitters. Be sure to get your fishing licenses in order before you head out on the water. You can get those online for a small fee, or purchase them from local tackle shops.
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