In contrast to most getaway destinations, the Moosehead Lake Region is as magical in the winter as it is in warmer seasons. Whether you bring the whole family or set off on a solo expedition, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the weather and endless areas to explore! Here is a list of our favorite things to do during the winter in Moosehead Lake!
Where to Find a Moose in the Moosehead Lake Region
In the Moosehead Lake region, one of the most commonly asked questions that we are asked is “where can I see a moose?” Moose are not only our namesake, they are our pride & joy. Spring brings endless new ways to enjoy the beauty and uniqueness of our region, most notably, it marks the time when moose are most prolific and most visible. Besides being the namesake of our favorite lake, moose are incredibly unique and interesting creatures that become even more fascinating once you catch a glimpse! Have you seen a moose in the Moosehead Lake region? Post about it on your social media channels and tag us! @destinationmooseheadlake or #destinationmooseheadlake
What is the Average Moose Size?
The Maine state mammal’s size is both impressive and intimidating by any measure. A fully grown male moose, called a bull, can reach 6 ft. in height at the shoulder and can weigh upwards of 1400 lbs.
What Do Moose Eat?
They enjoy dining on aquatic plants in the summer months and tree bark, leaves and balsam fir in the cooler seasons. Moose must consume 9770 calories per day to maintain their body weight.
How Fast Are Moose?
While clumsy in appearance, moose are actually able to run at speeds of 35 mph and can swim over 10 miles at a time.
Do all Moose Have Antlers?
Only male moose grow antlers, which they shed in early winter and re-grow during the year. The main function of antlers is for display during the mating season. Shed hunting (searching for antlers that have been shed by their owners) is a popular activity.
How Big Are Moose Antlers?
Moose antlers can grow as big as six feet in length! (Imagine carrying that around on your head!) They can weigh up to 40 lbs.
What Time of Day Are Moose Most Active?
Moose are crepuscular animals, meaning that they are most active at dawn and dusk.
What Do Moose Tracks Look Like?
Moose have hooves! Moose hoof prints will measure about 5-7 inches long. Use your hand or foot for comparison!
Are Moose Dangerous?
Moose are not generally aggressive creatures, but you should always use caution around them. Please keep your distance from these incredible creatures. There are certain times when moose can be more aggressive than others. For example, If you encounter a Momma Moose (called a cow), with a baby moose (called a calf), you might experience her protective behaviors. If a moose feels in danger, it will not tolerate the threat. It will charge and begin stomping with its hooves.
How Can I Tell if a Moose Has Been Here?
Keep a look out for rubbed trees, moose tracks, or moose droppings!
- Bull moose will rub their antlers against trees and other hard objects before they drop their antlers each year. If you see rubbed trees, you can be sure a moose has been there!
- Moose tracks measure 5-7” long, about the size of your hand.
- Moose droppings, or scat, look like round pellets and they are usually in piles. You will very often see them on trails.
Interesting Moose Facts
- The flap of skin under a moose’s throat is called a bell.
- Moose have no top front teeth.
- The first law to protect moose was passed in 1930.
- After their first calf, moose quite often have twins.
- Moose can only see about 25 feet.
- Moose can swim and will often submerge themselves in water.
Places to Look for Moose Around Moosehead Lake
In the Moosehead Lake Region, moose outnumber people 3 to 1. If you’re lucky, you might spot one on the side of the road as you head into town for lunch or on your way to rent a canoe. If not, there are a few local hotspots that are almost guaranteed to offer a sighting!
- Take a scenic drive to Kokadjo, a small community north of Greenville. Stay on Lily Bay Road for approximately 20 miles and keep your eyes open for moose along the way!
- Head to Lazy Tom Bog, just past Kokadjo. This bog is a very popular hangout for local moose!
- Make a day of your moose watching by driving to Rockwood, a town north of Greenville on Route 15, where you can ride over to Mt. Kineo aboard a boat shuttle for some hiking or exploring.
- Turn left on Depot Street from Greenville Junction to Shirley. Go right in Shirley, through town onto the dirt road toward The Forks. Beware this road may not be passable during winter and spring.
Moose Spotting Tips
The best times of day to see moose are early in the morning or at dusk, while the best time of year is from mid-spring through late June.
Moose prefer shady, wet areas such as bogs and marshes.
After dark, moose are very hard to spot standing on the road high above vehicle headlights. Always remain alert when driving at night. A moose encounter can result in great damage to vehicles and passengers.
Moose prefer solitude and deep woods cover in their habitat. Professional guide services offer unsurpassed access to the deepest woods territory to give you the best chance of spotting a moose!
- Enjoy breakfast around Moosehead Lake
Cold-weather activities will kickstart your metabolism, so it’s important to fuel up before your adventure. We recommend Birch Bark Bakery & Breakfast, Moosehead Meat & Deli, or Northwoods Gourmet Girl – and a few mugs of coffee, wherever you go – before hitting the snow.
2. Go ice fishing on Moosehead Lake
Soak in the scenery AND stock your cooler by spending some time ice fishing. Moosehead Lake and the surrounding ponds and smaller lakes are teeming with trout, cusk, salmon and togue all winter long! Salmon love to lurk right under the ice, and cusk are often caught after dark (who wants to make it an “all-nighter”?). One of the best spots to set up on the ice is behind Mt. Kineo, as it offers some of the deepest water on Moosehead Lake as well as offering some protections from the sometimes harsh winter winds. Be sure to bring along smelt and cut bait — these are the best options for ice fishing!
3. Hike, snowshoe or ski the trails
The best way to explore the land around you is to hike it! Insert yourself into picturesque views and stunning snow-dusted settings, no special equipment required. Just be sure to bundle up and bring your best boots! The region offers trails fit for family outings (read: little legs) as well as challenging winter trails that will test your stamina and reward you with phenomenal views. The Moosehead Pinnacle Pursuit Challenge offers a prestigious badge and panoramic views from each corner of the Moosehead Lake Region for those who summit all six peaks. For an even bigger challenge, complete them in a certain time frame or time of year and earn more badges! Find the best fit for your group or mood with the All Trails or Maine Trail Finder apps!
Ready to pick up the speed just a little? Strap on some snowshoes or rent some cross-country skis and strike off on an adventure. If you’re new to exploring on foot this way, it’s a great idea to work with a Registered Maine Guide for tips and tricks to navigating with gear as well as the best places to start your expedition.
5. Snowmobile endless wooded trails
For fast-paced adventurers, the mechanically inclined, or those that just want to cover as much ground as possible, exploring Moosehead from a snowmobile is a great way to take in the winter sights. The Moosehead Trail offers 160 miles of spectacular and scenic riding, with stops for coffee, lunch, and gas along the way. The local trails join the Maine ITS for those avid riders who want to branch out to other parts of Maine and into New Hampshire. Be sure to check conditions first – including lake ice – via the Maine Snowmobile Association, even during the most reliable sledding season (mid-January through mid-March). Not sure where to stop? Stop into a local business (many offer sled rentals!) and ask for tips on trailheads, riding advice and the best places to branch off the beaten path.
6. Book a lakeside cabin with a view
If you’re more of an observer of winter wonderlands than a knee-deep adventurer, we highly recommend a cozy cottage stay during the snowy season. There are plenty of places to snuggle up, sit by the fire and sip a steaming mug of tea or hot chocolate while soaking up the winter peace and quiet. A quaint cabin with a lake view is a wonderful respite from the demands and bustle of everyday life — you’ll sleep better than you have in years! Be sure to check out our lodging options!
7. Stargaze at night
No matter where you wind down after your day by the lake, the appeal of the region doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. Maine’s night sky can’t be beat! With miles of wide-open sky, little interruption and zero light pollution, it’s the perfect place to pause, look up, and remember the feeling of absolute awe. The winter sky in particular offers rare treats such as meteor showers and the Aurora Borealis. Enjoy these stellar sights from a pile of blankets on the snow, on the frozen lake, beside a roaring campfire or through the lens of a telescope at your cozy remote cabin.
Decorated homes & businesses will be lit up until Christmas, so make sure to check out all of the entries this season. Take a festive drive around Moosehead Lake and enjoy the holiday lights from now until Christmas. We can’t wait to welcome you to our Winter Wonderland this holiday season!
Things to do in the Moosehead Lake Region during the Holidays
Celebrate the holiday season in the festively decorated Moosehead Lake Region, starting this weekend, Nov. 28, 2020.
This month-long celebration of the holiday season begins this weekend and features many #ShopLocal promotions. Along with opportunities to snap pictures with Santa and write him letters, the Lights of Life Christmas Tree Lighting, a Deck the Halls Car Parade, and a NEW Christmas Decor Contest. “Light Up the Lake” is sure to delight with beautifully handcrafted wreaths on display throughout the Moosehead Lake Region.
Participants are reminded to be safe, follow social distancing procedures, and wear masks where required by State Mandate.
Deck the Halls Parade – Nov. 28, 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
The parade will start promptly at 3:30 p.m. at Woody’s in Greenville. Participants are requested to arrive early for line up at 3 p.m. The parade will travel through the hospital and end at the Gazebo downtown where the Lights of Life Tree Lighting will begin at 4:30 p.m.
Christmas Decor Contest – Dec. 11 to 13
All businesses and the community are invited to decorate their homes and/or places of business as part of the Christmas Decor Contest. The final judging will take place between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Dec. 11. A photographer will be out taking pictures on the evening of Dec. 12, and three winners from each category will be announced on social media on Dec. 13.
Every year my boyfriend Ryan and I take a trip for our anniversary. Admittedly this year, considering everything that’s been going on in the world, I was gearing up to have a staycation at home. Then we found Tomhegan Wilderness Camps. As far as travel goes during a pandemic, I felt like a camp in the North Woods was a fairly safe and isolated option. If only I knew how isolated it truly was!
So off we went on our 7 and 1/2 hour trek up to the North Maine Woods from our home in the NorthWest corner of Connecticut. I realize a drive like that may sound daunting, but with our stops in Portsmouth, Kittery, and Augusta to buy provisions we hardly even noticed the time passing. Boy was it worth it. I’m not exaggerating when I say Moosehead Lake is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. The water is pristine and since we got there just as the leaves were done peaking, the light was golden and the colors made everything even more magical.
Our first night was spent relaxing by the fire and acclimating to our new surroundings and can I just say, you’ve never felt true relaxation until you light a fire in a cabin in the middle of nowhere as the rain comes pouring down. It was absolute heaven. Tomhegan Camp is located about halfway up the western side of Moosehead Lake, a 45 minute drive from the town of Greenville on the southern tip. Once you reach the road the camp is located on however, it’s another 20 minute drive through woods and a game actuary until you finally reach your destination on a little mile long strip of the waters edge.
Our second day was just full of moments walking around and not believing what we were seeing. Our cabin had its own little slice of shoreline where in the warmer months you could launch your kayak or canoe, with a fire pit and benches nestled right on the rocky shoreline. This was a big selling point when trying to find a cabin to stay in, I loved that we had our own place to go and watch the ducks and feel the cold autumn breeze whip over the water. Although the view from the camps’ marina and dock was stunning as well.
Wildlife at the Cabin
One of the best parts of our stay at Tomhegan was definitely the twice daily visitors. In case you’re not familiar, Tomhegan is situated on the outskirts of Tomhegan Game Sanctuary and surrounded on one side by miles of woodland and the other by Moosehead Lake. This means that even though we saw lots of familiar animals, they were a lot friendlier than we were used to. I’m thinking the fact that travelers staying at the camps feed them every day might have something to do with it…
Unbeknownst to me our camp, Diana, was actually named after one of the deer that would come by to visit people staying at Tomhegan and Diana was actually the first ever cabin they had on the property. I’m not sure if the deer roaming around these days are Diana’s direct descendants but I like to think the knowledge of “if we go up to them, the humans will give us food” was passed down from her.
A visit to Greenville
On the third day of our trip we finally made it down to Greenville, the closest town about 45 minutes away at the southern tip of Moosehead Lake. We honestly weren’t expecting much but were hopeful to find a couple souvenirs and maybe have a meal we didn’t have to cook ourselves. After a lovely lunch at The Stress Free Moose (love that name), we walked maybe a quarter mile to the center of town with all the shops. If you don’t know me very well you might be surprised to know that I really only have 2 main interests in my life and that’s books and rocks. Yes, I said rocks. Not only does Greenville have 2 book stores, but an entire shop dedicated to fossils, rocks, and crystals. I’m a bit ashamed to admit how much I spent…
Another favorite shop of ours in Greenville was Moosehead Lake Indian Store, sort of a cross between a curio shop, antique store, and tourist attraction. We loved everything we saw as we walked around and almost wished we had the car space to bring some of the antique furniture home with us (there was an entire dining set on sale for $95!).
Dinner at The Birches
Our day was rounded out by a lovely dinner right next door to Tomhegan at The Birches Resort. This camp was set up more like how’d you’d expect, with a main lodge containing a restaurant and bar surrounded by cabins on either side. The restaurant was super cozy with lots of fireplaces and their view of the lake was the perfect place to watch the sunset.
I can honestly say that I’ve been to many places in my short 26 years but Moosehead Lake was one of the most life changing and I left with the knowledge that I’d be returning for many years to come. For more about our trip to Moosehead and Tomhegan Camps head over to my website www.stellaeire.com and follow me on Instagram and Facebook @stellaeire.
8:00am Have breakfast at Rockwood Bar and Grill before heading out to explore the North Woods.
9:00am Take a drive down to Moxie Falls and enjoy this easy hike that leads to a 90-foot waterfall surrounded by autumn’s display of color.
1:00pm Stop by Hawk’s Nest Restaurant and Pub for a delicious lunch – their French fries are said to be a standout!
3:00pm Check-in at Gray Ghost Camps and spend the afternoon on the Moose River using the kayaks they have available for guests to use.
6:00pm Enjoy a delicious dinner together as a family lakeside in the Lodge at the Birches.
Laid Back Fun Fall Agenda
8:00am Sit down for a quiet breakfast on the Moose River at Maynards in Maine.
10:00am Head out on a Seaplane Ride with the Birches to experience Moosehead from the sky!
12:00pm Sit down for a burger and fries (or quesadilla!) at the Rockwood Bar and Grill and catch up on the latest games.
3:00pm Meet up with Scott from Wilsons on Moosehead for an afternoon of fly fishing.
7:00pm Grab pizza, ice cream and drinks at Rockwood Convenience for a relaxing dinner in your lakeside cottage.
8:00pm Settle in for the night at Rockwood Cottages which sits at the mouth of the Moose River.
A Weekend in Moosehead Lake
by Justin Smulski
We keep an old wooden wine crate filled with a few just-in-case items in the back of the Subaru; a hatchet, pair of work gloves, foldable saw, a Maine atlas, some flashlights, and first aid gear. My girlfriend Amy jokes at times that we’ve luckily never needed the saw—until we did. On an old dirt logging access road somewhere between Kokadjo and Greenville we snagged a small felled tree under the car and cut it lose while nervously chuckling at our luck. About twenty minutes later, in the early evening mist overlooking a chilly bog, we saw Amy’s first moose. We chuckled, again, at our luck. Amy’s hey-that’s-a-moose-WOW-it’s-HUGE dance got some curious looks from the two other groups observing until I whispered that it was her first sighting and then a quorum of smiles emerged.
I hadn’t been to Moosehead since a childhood trip with my parents somewhere around 25 years ago and Amy had yet to explore this part of the state. We learned, gleefully and covered in sweat, that when the pavement ends and the way ahead gets mucky and bumpy and a bit more wild—that’s where the good stuff starts. When I was eight years old, here the first time, I probably knew that instinctively. Showing someone you love a place like Moosehead—looking for its secrets and hidden beauties—reminds you of intrinsic truths long forgotten.
We stayed in a cabin at Wilsons near Greenville; between hikes and drives and lunches at the Stress Free Moose we sat out on the dock over the lake with a bottle of wine and old vintage wildlife printed glasses from the cabin’s cupboard. One night a member of the Wilson family dropped a bundle of birch wood at our cabin and we built a fire looking out over the lake and let our sore feet rest. We grilled our dinner, planned our next day, and watched a symphony of sunset hues put themselves to bed over the glass-like surface of the lake in the evening calm. When the fire died down the Neowise comet began a slow rise over the North woods and we returned to the dock. Amy and I are both still, sometimes, re-learning how to not live in the city—NYC, Boston, and Washington, DC between us—and the lack of light pollution was striking. The shape and reach of the Milky Way was fully visible and it reminded us both of planetarium field trips and summer family outings.
The best adventures along Maine’s coast and trails and woods and waters all have one feature in common: they remind me of my own wonderment and curiosity as a child. I do my best to lean into that feeling, to share it, to have it be part of every hike and camping trip and beachside fire. Our getaway to Moosehead Lake and our backroad mischief on the lookout for Amy’s first moose made it easy. Anytime we feel detached from that sense of wonder and need to be reminded—we’ll be back at Moosehead.
Photos by Justin Smulski, Tide to Pine Creative
Justin and his girlfriend Amy travel around the state of Maine in search of outdoor adventures. You can follow along on their adventures on their Instagram channels – @tidetopine and @thetipsynewenglander
2020 Kineo Shuttle Schedule
The Kineo Shuttle
May 23, 2020 through October 12, 2020
Months of May and June
From the Rockwood Public Landing to Kineo: 9:00am, 11:00am, 1:00pm, and 3:00pm
From Kineo to Rockwood: 10:45am, 12:45pm, 2:45pm with a final trip back at 4:45pm
Months of July and August
From the Rockwood Public Landing to Kineo: On the hour, every hour from 8:00am until 6:00pm
From Kineo to Rockwood: 9:45am, 10:45am, 11:45am, 12:45pm, 1:45pm, 2:45pm, 3:45pm, 4:45pm, 5:45pm with a final trip back at 6:45pm
Months of September and October
From the Rockwood Public Landing to Kineo: On the hour, every hour from 9:00am until 4:00pm
From Kineo to Rockwood: 9:45am, 10:45am, 11:45am, 12:45pm, 1:45pm, 2:45pm, 3:45pm, with a final trip back at 4:45pm
Round-Trip Shuttle Fares:
Ages 5 and older: $13.00 per person Cash only
Under age 5: FREE
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions:
The crossing from Rockwood to Kineo takes approximately 10 minutes.
The Kineo Shuttle does not have a ticket booth; you will be paying the captain in cash as you board.
In good weather the shuttle will accommodate 10 passengers; the captain may elect to carry fewer passengers in rough weather. If for any reason there are more passengers waiting to board than can be safely ferried across on a scheduled trip, the shuttle will return immediately for those left behind.
When you step off the docks on Kineo you are at the trailhead for the Mt. Kineo State Park hiking trails. To hike to the observation tower at the top of Mt. Kineo and back to the docks via the Bridle Trail and Indian Trails takes approximately 2 – 2.5 hours. If you choose to go down the North trail from the tower, it becomes a 4-5 hour hike.
The golf course does not rent golf carts for sightseeing. They are only rented to golfers, per the request of the Kineo Community Owners Association, and they cannot leave the course.
The golf course and cart paths are not hiking trails.
Want the Trail to Yourself? Try Exploring Easements!
Summer 2020 will be anything but ordinary. With some indoor activities restricted or closed, many landowners and managers across Maine are reporting a higher-than-average number of visitors to their hiking trails, parks, and preserves. Fortunately, the Moosehead Lake region has an abundance of beautiful land, waters, and trails for residents and visitors to spread out on.
The Forest Society of Maine
The Forest Society of Maine (FSM) holds conservation easements all around Moosehead Lake, including the 359,000-acre Moosehead Region Conservation Easement (MRCE). Multiple new trails have been constructed on the MRCE since 2015, which are managed by the state of Maine. For a challenging hike with outstanding views, the new Eagle Rock Trail is an excellent alternative to the uber-popular Big Moose. At 7.4 miles (round-trip), Eagle Rock makes for a full and satisfying day, and the parking lot is never full. For a shorter day, check out the Number 4 Mountain Trail (3.4 miles round-trip), east of Moosehead Lake.
North of the lake, the Big Spencer Mountain Trail is a relatively short but steep ascent to one the region’s tallest peaks (elevation 3,230’; 4 miles round-trip). You don’t even have to get to the top to earn exceptional views: Lobster and Chesuncook lakes and Baxter State Park are visible from a small clearing just one mile from the trail head (a great picnic location). Even on a perfect summer day, it is rare to pass more than one or two other hikers on Big Spencer—perhaps because the drive is long and remote. Remember to always turn your headlights on when travelling private roads, and be sure to pull over to let logging trucks pass. Big Spencer is managed as a Maine State Ecological Reserve, and is conserved by an FSM-held easement.
All three of the above hikes, including trail maps and driving directions, can be found on MaineTrailFinder.com. The local hiking and volunteer group Moosehead Trails will also be hosting socially distant trips to Big Spencer and to the Blue Ridge Trail system in the MRCE, this summer and fall. More information can be found at Facebook.com/MooseheadTrails/.
When exploring easements, please play it safe. Emergency calls to the backcountry puts a burden on local health organizations and emergency responders. Stay within your limits, and always pack plenty of food, water, and a warm non-cotton layer, even if you are only doing a short hike. To everyone enjoying the spectacular woods and waters of the Moosehead Lake region, this summer, the Forest Society of Maine wishes you happy—and healthy—trails!
This article was written by Forest Society of Maine Forestland Steward Erica Cassidy Dubois. It originally appeared in the Piscataquis Observer (June 29) and Moosehead Matters (July 3). Please visit fsmaine.org to learn more about the Forest Society of Maine and lands they have conserved throughout the state.Read More