Lake Umbagog
GOOD FOR: All Ages
RATING:


Source:Outdoors with Kids Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont (AMC Books)
Address:Umbagog Lake State Park
Hours:No posted hours
Fee: Free for day use, fee for camping and for canoe or kayak rentals
Contact:

Lake Umbagog State Park, 603-482-7795, nhstateparks.org/explore/state-parks/umbagog-lake-state-park.aspx; Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge, 603-482-3415, www.fws.gov/northeast/lakeumbagog/index.html

Bathrooms: At campground
Water/Snacks: At campground
Map:

USGS Umbagog Lake South and Umbagog Lake North quads; nhstateparks.org


Lake Umbagog is a North Country treasure, teeming with wildlife, surrounded by boreal forests, and dotted with islands and beautiful backcountry campsites.

Lake Umbagog (pronounced um-BAY-gog) is a place of immense beauty, solitude, and wilderness. Home to the largest concentration of nesting loons and ospreys in New Hampshire, it is also home to copious numbers of moose, bears, lynxes, coyotes, minks, and bobcats. It sprawls over 7,538 acres in a remote corner of northern New Hampshire, making it logistically difficult to reach, and therefore quiet and peaceful for those who do visit. The relatively shallow lake (average depth is 15 feet) is the second largest in the state and is chock-full of warm- and cold-water fish. Bass, landlocked salmon, brook trout, and perch are prolific here, and it is rare for a fishing trip to go by without at least one catch-of-the-day dinner. On one trip we caught a giant lake trout, saw an eagle soaring overhead, and found a moose in a secluded cove—all within five minutes.

Much of the land surrounding the lake is managed as a national wildlife refuge. Aside from the state park and campground land on the southwest shore and a handful of hunting camps and cottages on the southern end, the lake is wild country that feels larger than its 12 square miles. You will feel as if you could explore this place forever. To truly experience the beauty of Lake Umbagog, plan an overnight canoe or kayak camping trip. There is truly nothing like sitting by a crackling fire on the shoreline, listening only to the calls of the loons echoing across the water. (Note: Dogs are allowed at the base campground area but are prohibited on beaches and many of the remote campsites; contact park for additional information.)

Long lakes can become treacherous in high winds and waves on the lake can swamp a kayak or canoe. Start your paddling early in the morning when the water is glassy smooth and plan to be off the water before the afternoon winds pick up. Mosquitoes and blackflies can be overwhelming here in midsummer, so bring bug spray. Our favorite time to visit is in spring or fall when the bugs are not as plentiful.

The easiest place to start your adventure is from the campground, where you’ll find boat docks, ample parking, water, and food at the campground store. Remote campsites must be reserved in advance at 877-647-2757 or nhstateparks.org. Here are some of our favorite places on Lake Umbagog.

Big Island
Home to many fine secluded campsites, Big Island is a perfect destination for young families who want to get into the backcountry but don’t want to paddle all day to get there. Just a couple miles from the put-in at the campground, this island is permanently protected by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests.

Tyler Cove
Teeming with wildlife, Tyler Cove has many fine west-facing campsites for beautiful sunsets. A couple of nice sandy beaches make excellent day-trip destinations, with picnic spots galore. Campsites 21–23 are especially nice for families with small children as they have nice sandy beaches.

Androscoggin River and Magalloway River
The Magalloway River flows into the lake and the Androscoggin River flows out of the lake at virtually the same place. The maze of wetlands, floating bogs, river channels, and ponds here is a paddler’s paradise, and you can spend hours exploring this prime migratory bird habitat. Be sure to bring a highly detailed USGS map as the many channels and coves can be very confusing.

Sunday Cove and Rapid River
At perhaps the most remote corner of the lake, camping on Sunday Cove and paddling up the remote Rapid River are both very wild experiences.

Plan B:

Milan Hill State Park on NH 16 offers yurt accommodations and some short hikes. You can also trek up Magalloway Mountain (Trip 41) in Pittsburg to enjoy the fire tower with panoramic views of the North Country.

Where to Eat Nearby:

Errol has a diner and a couple convenience stores, and Berlin and Gorham to the south offer many fine options including pizza, delis, Chinese food, and ice cream stands.



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