Munsungan Lake, Maine, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - New England - Maine - Aroostook County -

At Munsungan Lake, visitors return to an environment not seen in the past hundred years. Located in the Maine North Woods, a wilderness crisscrossed only by logging roads, 1600-acre Munsungan Lake invites arrivals to experience a 19th-century ‘fish camp’ set among rugged hills, endless forests and clear, deep pools. The air is crisp and fresh, the water cold and the fishing, photographic opportunities and nature trails inviting. The shoreline is deserted except for the single 1890s lodge and eight log cabins. Other than the sounds of the birds, or native animals in the underbrush and nearby woods, the sound of the camp’s generator or the occasional float plane are the only things to break the stillness. For the float plane brings the guests, from Ashland or Presque Isle, and the generator provides a modicum of comfort for cooking and daytime activities.

At night with the generator switched off and no planes flying, the silence is complete, pierced only by the sound of an owl or nocturnal animal. Guests sit on the porch enjoying a drink in a tall glass filled with ice cut from the lake the previous winter and talk of the day’s activities, often in hushed tones. Soon, guests drift off to their cabins, lit by kerosene lights and warmed by wood stoves. Dawn is greeted by the eerie cry of a loon on Munsungan Lake. Breakfast is at 7:00 am, and the late sleeper may find all they are left with is cold cereal! Tomorrow will be another nature-filled day of fishing for landlocked salmon or trout, hiking the nearby ridge, or exploring nearby trails. Life is good at Munsungan Lake.

Located in Piscataquis County, Munsungan Lake is about 50 miles from the nearest town of any size. The lake forms the headwaters of Aroostook River as the outflow drains through Little Munsungan Lake. The stream eventually joins with the St. John River across the border in New Brunswick, Canada. Two rustic campsites are located on Little Munsungan Lake. Munsungan Lake connects to nearby Chase Lake via a small stream. Although the lakes can be reached by road, it is a long, difficult trek across poorly marked logging roads that twist and turn in unsuspected ways. Located about 15 miles north of Baxter State Park, Munsungan Lake is noted for the landlocked salmon which use the Aroostook stream as their spawning beds; lake trout, brook trout, lake whitefish, rainbow smelt, yellow perch, burbot, dace, American eel and a number of other species are also caught. The lake reaches 123 feet in depth and offers an excellent, naturally reproducing coldwater fishery. Many fly fishermen schedule an annual trip to the lodge for their sporting vacation.

Guide service is available for fishing or for trekkng in the nearby woods, learning to handle a canoe in whitewater, or simply locating native wildlife to photograph. The lodge also handles side trips to a couple of outpost camps on nearby small lakes. Some swimming is available, although the water is seldom warm. Real estate is found for sale in the area; many are small cottages on leased land, but there are none available at Munsungan Lake. Some lodgings are available on other lakes in the area, often with excellent fishing and road access. Lodgings can be found at Ashland and Presque Isle, along with a few bed-and-breakfasts and small motels near the main roads. The majority of the Maine North Woods is empty of year-round homes; providing utilities and good road access is too difficult and too expensive for the isolated residence.

Hunting is available in some areas near Munsungan Lake during the season. Along with small game such as grouse, woodcock and snowshoe hare, bigger game is often sought such as deer, black bear and the occasional moose. Visitors to the lake sometimes arrange to paddle parts of the 92-mile Allagash Wilderness Waterway a few miles to the west, to which they are often delivered by float plane. To the south, Baxter State Park hosts campgrounds, miles of hiking trails and several peaks worth climbing such as Mount Katahdin. Katahdin, at 5268 feet, is the highest point in Maine and the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. Some of Baxter’s campgrounds are accessible by road, offer rustic cabins and are family-friendly. Others are remote and can only be reached by backpacking. In winter, some areas of the park are open for winter camping, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Snowmobiling is allowed on certain main roads within the park, but trail maps should be followed. There are no fuel or facilities available for snowmobiles in the park.

The North Maine Woods is a loose confederation of over 3.5 million acres of second-growth forest owned by a coalition of private owners, mostly paper companies and conservation groups. The sole lodge at Munsungan Lake is on land leased from a forestry company. The lodge proprietor provides occasional float plane services to the managers of the nearby forest and the Maine Dept. of Inland Fisheries. North Maine Woods, Inc. manages the three million acres of wilderness under their control much like a park, with minimal fees for entry and camping permits. The area they control receives over 100,000 visitors a year, yet many areas are actively being used for timber harvest and reforestation. Visitors remark on how well the sense of wilderness and solitude has been preserved. Often the only other human activity seen for days is the occasional logging truck. As roads in the area must be maintained to provide access for logging vehicles, the group is able to provide numerous recreational activities to large numbers of visitors at a minimal cost of about a million dollars a year, far less than the cost of operations for a formal national park of comparable size.

There are concerns that as timber and paper companies are forced to sell their holdings due to an increasingly global market, those currently well-managed lands will fall into the hands of developers. Conservation trusts have taken up conservation easements on some of the land and will likely try to consolidate it into the long-envisioned national park. Local residents are concerned that jobs and family businesses could be lost if leased holdings cease to exist. Certainly losing such leased lodge holdings as exist on Munsungan Lake would leave a hole in the history of the region. So, bring the family now to lovely Munsungan Lake, learn to survive without cells phones and internet, and discover the joys of nature.

Things to do at Munsungan Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • National Park

Fish species found at Munsungan Lake

  • Brook Trout
  • Burbot
  • Carp
  • Eel
  • Lake Trout
  • Perch
  • Salmon
  • Smelt
  • Trout
  • Whitefish
  • Yellow Perch

Munsungan Lake Photo Gallery

Munsungan Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 1,620 acres

Shoreline Length: 13 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 811 feet

Maximum Depth: 123 feet

Trophic State: Oligotrophic

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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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