Rangeley Lakes, Maine, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - New England - Maine - Lakes & Mountains -

Also known as:  Umbagog Lake, Aziscohos Lake, Mooselookmeguntic Lake,Rangeley Lake, Upper Richardson Lake, Lower Richardson Lake, Cupsuptic Lake, Aziscoos Lake (historic), Sawyer Lake (historic)

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Nothing represents the outdoor largesse of Maine’s Lakes and Mountains region better than the six pristine Rangeley Lakes. These natural lakes sprawl beneath famed 4,120-foot Saddleback Mountain along the Androscoggin River drainage. Several dams, built between 1850 and 1920, have enlarged and stabilized the original lakes in order to generate hydroelectric power.

Contained by the Rangeley Dam, Rangeley Lake covers more than 6,300 acres and is the farthest east along the water route. Upper Dam raised the water level of Mooselookmeguntic Lake so that it joined with Cupsuptic Lake to form a reservoir of 16,300 acres. Richardson Lake, often called Upper Richardson Lake and Lower Richardson Lake, is long and relatively narrow with 5,100 acres behind Middle Dam. After a meandering course containing several great fishing pools, the Androscoggin flows into 8,500-acre Umbagog Lake along an 11-mile stretch of the New Hampshire-Maine State Line. Umbagog Lake also receives the flow of the Maggalloway River after it travels past the dam that encloses 6,872-acre Aziscohos Lake.

(Statistics listed on the sidebar are for Aziscohos Lake only. Data for Umbagog Lake, Mooselookmeguntic Lake and Rangeley Lake are listed on their respective Lakelubbers pages-see links on sidebar.)

The vast wetlands and ‘floating Islands’ at the north end of Umbagog Lake are listed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks. Downstream in New Hampshire, several more dams along the Androscoggin River also generate hydro-power to provide clean, renewable energy to homes and businesses in the Northeast. The waters of the Androscoggin and its tributaries generate electricity and provide thousands of acres of water-based recreation to lucky visitors.

Few private homes dot the shorelines of the Rangeley Lakes. The only city of any size is the Village of Rangeley at the east end of Rangeley Lake. Most activities in the region are organized out of Rangeley, a well-known resort town. In years gone by when the area was served by passenger trains, the era of big resort hotels held sway, with thousands of visitors arriving each summer. The large hotels have been replaced with motels, bed & breakfasts, guest cottages and camping resorts providing all types of lodgings.

Rangeley Lake State Park on the southern shore of Rangeley Lake is a popular family vacation destination for camping, fishing and nature observation. Umbagog State Park just over the state line in New Hampshire offers camping trails and plenty of lake access. The 6,000-acre Stephen Phillips Memorial Preserve offers primitive camping on both the mainland of Mooselookmeguntic Lake and on Student Island and Toothaker Island for a nominal fee to maintain the property. Numerous small commercial campgrounds can be found along the lakeshores.

Boating is popular, with several launch sites available on each lake. A small marina in Rangeley can handle most daily boating needs and repairs, while numerous fishing camps and cottage resorts rent boats and small watercraft. A modern version of the historic steamboat cruises are chartered lake cruises on Rangeley, Mooselookmeguntic, Cupsuptic, and Richardson Lake. One of the cruise operators also arranges boat transportation to distant locations for paddle sports fans.

All of the lakes are popular for fishing, with landlocked salmon and brook trout the most sought-after species. Lake trout can be found in Richardson Lake. Many of the lakes and nearby ponds and rivers are fly-fishing only, so a current copy of fishing regulations should be consulted while planning for a fishing trip. Fishing guides are available and very helpful in finding the hottest fishing holes on the large lakes. Resorts catering to fishermen usually also sell fishing licenses, rent boats, and arrange guides. Upper and Lower Richardson Lake have sandy shorelines and several good swimming spots, but other lakes are primarily rocky shores.

Umbagog Lake, Aziscohos Lake, Mooselookmeguntic Lake and Rangeley Lake all have islands large and small to explore, making paddling particularly enjoyable. The lakes are utilized for canoe and kayak day-trips and for camping, with campsites located along the shorelines of most of the lakes. The lakes can get very rough quickly when the winds increase, so paddlers should be prepared for rough water. The entire region is surrounded by some of Maine’s highest peaks, and hiking in the area is always a popular activity. Non-climbers will still appreciate the breathtaking views of many 4000+-foot peaks.

The fun doesn’t cease at Rangeley Lakes with the end of summer. Fall colors paint the landscape in brilliant hues, adding a colorful new dimension to the surrounding landscape. Wildlife is plentiful year-round, with a variety of birds, waterfowl and mammals approaching the lakeshores to drink and bathe. Loons and great blue herons are always common here, as are eagles and ospreys. Many of the resort cabins remain open to serve hunters and fall color observers. In winter, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing draw many outdoor enthusiasts to the Rangeley Lakes area. Over 250 miles of groomed snowmobile trails and nearly 50 miles of cross-country ski trails beckon visitors for a weekend respite. The ski areas on Saddleback Mountain are some of the most famous in Maine, with excellent resort facilities.

Activities on Saddleback Mountain are not limited to the snow season. Trails, guided nature hikes, moose tours, easy hikes to Angel Falls and Smalls Falls, festivals and special events keep visitors coming year round. And visits to The Wilhelm Reich Museum, with its exhibits and nature studies programs, will interest every budding scientist in the family. A feel for the logging heritage of the Rangeley Lakes is the result of a visit to the Rangeley Lakes Logging Museum. The Rangeley Lakes Chamber of Commerce can provide maps and information on all of these activities.

The Rangeley Lakes area is the perfect year-round getaway, accessible within an afternoon’s drive of Rumford (36 miles) and Portland (111 miles). Don’t plan on a lightning-fast highway trip, however. The roads wind through scenic mountains and past lovely lakes, making the trip slower and more enjoyable than most weekend getaways. The trip is half the fun. Take your time and bring the camera.

Things to do at Rangeley Lakes

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

Fish species found at Rangeley Lakes

  • Brook Trout
  • Lake Trout
  • Salmon
  • Trout

Rangeley Lakes Photo Gallery

Rangeley Lakes Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Androscoggin Reservoir Co. and the Union Water Power Co.

Surface Area: 6,872 acres

Shoreline Length: 63 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,520 feet

Average Depth: 11 feet

Maximum Depth: 60 feet

Completion Year: 1912

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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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