Belgrade Lakes, Maine, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - New England - Maine - Kennebec & Moose River Valleys -

Also known as:  Long Pond, East Pond, Great Pond, Messalonskee Lake, McGrath Pond, North Pond, Salmon Lake

American writer E.B. White put the Belgrade Lakes Chain on the map with his piece “Once More to the Lake”: “Summertime, oh, summertime, pattern of life indelible with fade-proof lake, the wood unshatterable, the pasture with the sweetfern and the juniper forever and ever, summer without end.” This is the world that he remembers through nostalgic eyes, from the perspective of his childhood self.

The Belgrade Lakes are a series of seven bodies of water in Maine’s Kennebec & Moose River Valleys tourism region: East Pond, North Pond, Great Pond, Long Pond, McGrath Pond, Salmon Lake, and Messalonskee Lake. The Belgrade Lakes are part of the Messalonskee Stream drainage basin, which feeds the Kennebec River. East Pond empties into North Pond, which is connected to Great Pond. Great Pond empties into Long Pond, which flows into Messalonskee Lake. McGrath Pond flows into Salmon Lake, which is also coupled with Great Pond. Together, these lakes make up a combined surface area of 20,311 acres.

Fishing reigns supreme at the Belgrade Lakes, particularly for brown trout, brook trout, northern pike, landlocked salmon, largemouth bass, white perch and smallmouth bass. Twenty species of fish inhabit these seven lakes.

Messalonskee Lake is the deepest of the Belgrade Lakes, with a maximum depth of 113 feet. It is also the second largest lake, with a surface area of 3,510 acres. Smallmouth bass and largemouth bass, white perch, trout, pickerel, splake, and rainbow smelt are the most common catches. The Messalonskee Lake Dam is controlled by Central Maine Power.

North Pond is the shallowest of the Belgrade Lakes, with a maximum depth of 20 feet. White perch, chain pickerel, and bass are prevalent throughout its 2,873 acres of surface area, and ice fishing is extremely popular during the winter. North Pond holds Maine’s northern pike state record. A dam controlled by the North Pond Association exists at Great Meadow Stream, a brook that brings waters from both North Pond and East Pond into Great Pond.

East Pond boasts a surface area of 1,823 acres and a maximum depth of 27 feet. Due to large numbers of illegally stocked crappie, its brown trout population has been drastically reduced. Its dam is controlled by the East Pond Association.

McGrath Pond has the smallest surface area of the lakes, featuring 486 acres. It has a maximum depth of 27 feet. Crappie, a species that feeds on smelt, has also been illegally introduced into McGrath Pond. With fewer smelt to eat, brown trout are fewer in number than in the past.

Long Pond has the best visibility of all of the Belgrade Lakes, with 2,714 acres and a maximum depth of 106 feet. Salmon and smelt are the predominate fish at Long Pond. The Wings Mill Dam is controlled by the Belgrade Lakes Committee.

Salmon Lake has a surface area of 667 acres and a maximum depth of 57 feet. The Salmon Lake Dam is located where Hatchery Brook exits Kozy Cove, and is controlled by the Belgrade Dams Committee.

Great Pond is the largest of all seven lakes, with an impressive 8,239 acres. It features a mean depth of 21 feet, and is a rewarding place to fish for northern pike, but there are few salmon and smelts here. Writer Ernest Thompson made Great Pond famous in his descriptive work “On Golden Pond.” The Mill Dam is controlled by the Belgrade Lakes Dam Committee.

The Belgrade Lakes are home to intense beauty. Numerous real estate properties and vacation rentals are available. As much as three quarters of lake shoreline is already developed.

Recreation at Belgrade Lakes is truly unbeatable. For some heart thumping adventure, try jet skiing or wake boarding. More relaxing water activities include canoeing and kayaking through the peaceful canals and waterways connecting these bodies of water. Paddle boating, sailing, and tubing are also popular. Wildlife lovers should keep their eyes peeled for majestic creatures like moose, bear, deer and waterfowl.

Hiking is incredible at Belgrade Lakes. Numerous trails to panoramic look-out points are available, including to French’s Mountain and Mount Philip, the later of which boasts 755 feet in elevation. The Mountain Trail offers views of Great Pond and Long Pond from 663 feet elevation. Blueberry Hill has some great scenic spots right from the highway, and the Kennebec Highlands features pathways throughout its 6,000 acres of wetlands, rivers and ponds. The Round Top Trail and the Sanders Hill Loop are the most frequently traveled. These trails are perfect for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and – during the winter – cross country skiing and snowmobiling.

For some off-water fun, visit some of Belgrade Lake’s nearby towns. Shopping malls, 18-hole golf courses, and bowling alleys are available in Belgrade. Established back in 1796, Belgrade today boasts a number of historic attractions. The town was primarily agriculture-based then, with factories making shovels, spools, rakes, shingles and boxes. With the construction of a nearby railroad in 1886, the town’s focus switched to tourism and has remained so ever since. Augusta, the state capital, is 15 miles southeast of Belgrade.

Belgrade Lakes truly offers a dizzying array of things to do and places to see. Families, friends, couples and solo-travelers alike have a hard time leaving when their vacations are over. Grab a book and read by any one of Belgrade Lake Chain’s seven tranquil shores – and see for yourself if you agree with E.B. White’s or Ernest Thompson’s wistful and accurate descriptions of the area.

Things to do at Belgrade Lakes

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Tubing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Belgrade Lakes

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Brook Trout
  • Brown Trout
  • Chain Pickerel
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pickerel
  • Pike
  • Salmon
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Smelt
  • Splake Trout
  • Trout
  • White Perch

Belgrade Lakes Photo Gallery

    Belgrade Lakes Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

    Surface Area: 20,311 acres

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 250 feet

    Maximum Depth: 113 feet

    Drainage Area: 177 sq. miles

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    Trophic State | LakeLubbers

    Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

    An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

    A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

    A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

    The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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    Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

    Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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    Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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    Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

    Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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    Completion Year | LakeLubbers

    This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

    The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

    You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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    Water Volume | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

    You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

    Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

    1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

    The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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    Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

    You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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    Average Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

    Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

    Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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    Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

    At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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    Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

    Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

    When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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    Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

    You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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    Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

    This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

    A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

    When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

    You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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    Surface Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

    The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

    You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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    Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

    This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

    Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

    "Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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    Lake Type | LakeLubbers

    There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

    - A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

    - A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

    - A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

    "Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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