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Downeast Lakes Water Trail

The Downeast Lakes offer exceptional opportunities for multi-day paddling trips, which rival any in the northeast for solitude, beauty, and adventure.
Trail Activity
55.0 miles, Network
Grand Lake Stream Plt, Sakom Twp, T42 MD BPP, T43 MD BPP, T6 ND BPP
Water - Lake/Pond, Water - River/Stream


The Downeast Lakes region around Grand Lake Stream is the connection for traditional canoe travel between the Saint Croix, Machias, and Penobscot River watersheds. Nine water-access tent sites provided by Downeast Lakes Land Trust 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 Tribe.

With canoes or kayaks, 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 moose. The large lakes can quickly develop challenging or hazardous paddling conditions in strong winds, so paddlers must remain alert. 

Not looking to camp? Day trip options abound. Choose an island or one of the Water Trail campsites for a picnic destination. The quiet Wabassus Lake is surrounded by the Downeast Lakes Community Forest, and has a convenient boat access available off the Fourth Lake Road.

Other Information

The Downeast Lakes Land Trust oversees nine primitive tent sites accessible by water only. Each site has a picnic table and fire ring, but no outhouse. Tent site use is free, on a first-come, first-served basis. Permits required for campfires are available from the Maine Forest Service. 

For more information about the tent sites, including their coordinates and maximum capacity, please refer to the map and guide available on the Downeast Lakes Land Trust website.

Trail Manager

Visit Downeast Lakes Land Trust online for more information and a printable map or contact:

Downeast Lakes Land Trust

Downeast Lakes Land Trust
4 Water Street
Grand Lake Stream, ME 04668
Phone: (207) 796-2100
View website

Nearby Events


Trail Tips

Minimize Campfire Impacts
Consider using a cooking stove and alternative light source (flashlight, candle, lantern) instead of building a campfire.
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Trailhead Information

To launch into West Grand Lake, take Milford Road into Grand Lake Stream and turn right onto Shaw Street to launch above the dam.

To access the other three hand-carry boat launch sites, continue west on Milford Road until it turns to gravel, then bear right onto Fourth Lake Road. After 5.4 miles, turn left to launch on Wabassus Lake. After 6.1 miles turn right onto Elsemore's Landing Road to launch in Pocumcus Lake. To access Fourth Machias Lake, bear left at 11.2 miles, continue 0.9 miles, and turn left to Fourth Lake Landing. 

Click on a parking icon to get custom directions
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Trail Alerts

Be a Safe and Respectful Paddler
Paddling conditions will vary according to the weather and season, so always exercise caution and always wear a lifejacket. With good judgment and proper equipment, the risk associated with paddling can be minimized. Respect the natural world and the rights of landowners, and be considerate of other outdoor enthusiasts. Paddlers should seek to avoid causing erosion, trampling vegetation, disturbing wildlife, and harming water quality.

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