Tunk Lake, Maine, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - New England - Maine - Down East & Acadia -

Also known as:  Tunk Pond

Nothing says Downeast Maine like Tunk Lake. This beautiful 2000-acre natural lake is wild, pristine and entirely accessible to all comers. Considered the third deepest lake in the state, Tunk Lake is exceedingly clear and scenically beautiful. Only a couple dozen private cottages share the 16 miles of wooded shoreline. Located about seven miles from the nearest village, Tunk Lake lies in the heart of near-coast country along the lovely Blackwoods Scenic Byway. State route 182 meanders through low mountains alongside several ponds and lakes, and is the starting point for many a hike or afternoon climb up Tunk Mountain or Black Mountain.

Known as one of the top three lake trout (togue) lakes in Maine, its value as a natural resource was recognized early. Famed Naval explorer Admiral Richard Byrd long had an expansive cottage here called Wickyup. His descendants now own Wickyup II, built to replace the original cottage which burned. It’s that kind of lake, one where people jealously guard their piece of paradise and protect it from damage and over-development. Nearly the entire lakeshore is now either in Public Lands status or conservation easement. Properties are nearly impossible to purchase here-and likely will be long into the future.

There are no commercial ventures at Tunk Lake-only a few property owners who occasionally rent out their cottages by the week to lucky vacationing visitors. Even with a public boat ramp located off SR 182, the lake is seldom crowded. Canoes and kayaks glide silently through the waves, taking care to avoid submerged rocks near the shore. The lake is often choppy, with winds arriving suddenly and blowing strongly. Tunk Lake lies at the base of 1,140-foot Tunk Mountain, in the shadow of Black Mountain; both are popular uphill climbing locations, with spectacular views from the summits. A few remote primitive campsites lie along Partridge Peninsula on the south end of the lake and can be reached by water.

The boat ramp is suitable for small motor boats, many of which arrive outfitted for fishermen. Jet skis are not permitted, keeping the lake quiet and serene for nesting loons and waterfowl. The shoreline is mostly rocky, with surprise sandy beaches appearing irregularly along the shore. There is no public swim beach as there is at nearby Donnell Pond, but a few hardy souls are always prepared to slip into the cold yet inviting water. Because the water is so transparent, the bottom is often much deeper than it appears, leaving many surprisingly wet at a first wading attempt. Water clarity makes snorkeling at Tunk Lake particularly rewarding.

The outlet stream near the boat ramp leads to Spring River Lake a short distance away. The stream is a natural nursery for the few landlocked salmon that manage to spawn in the lake and for the many lake trout fry. The salmon are stocked each year by Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the agency that also maintains the boat ramp. The lake trout are naturally reproducing in the cold waters and are joined by brook trout, rainbow smelt, American eel, alewife, red-breasted sunfish and pumpkinseed sunfish. To protect the lake trout population, fishing limits of a minimum length of 23 inches is imposed to allow for spawning once they reach maturity. Ice fishing is also quite popular and is permitted after January 1st each year. Locals recommend snowshoes for getting around on the ice.

Trails in the area have long invited adventurous hikers. A number of small unofficial trails lead toward the top of Tunk Mountain. Hikers are advised to carry a compass as the many trails and heavy growths of birch, pine and spruce make it easy to get lost. More trail signage is under construction. Other trails lead to the interior of the large expanse of public lands hidden behind the mountains. Rocky granite ledges and outcroppings support growths of low-growing native plants. In autumn, hikers reaching mountaintop vistas look down at the many lakes with their shorelines turning a flaming red as the blueberry bogs change color. And the best part is that this pristine wilderness is still close to civilization.

The town of Ellsworth is about 15 miles down Blackwoods Byway. This old town holds the home of the namesake of Blackwoods Byway and also Black Mountain. Colonel John Black was the agent for the absentee owner of a great deal of property in the area, managing it for timber harvesting. He also married another large landowner’s daughter, thus becoming a large property owner himself. The Blackwoods Byway meanders through the wooded tracts he managed. Col. Black built a mansion in Ellsworth along with a carriage house and formal gardens which is now managed as a museum. The house, outbuildings, gardens and attached park are open for visitors, including those who walk the many trails in the park. Ellsworth has the usual supply of commercial lodgings, along with many quaint inns, bed & breakfasts and plenty of restaurants. Not far east of Ellsworth, the little town of Franklin (named after Ben) holds one of the two remaining Galamanders in Maine, an ox-drawn contraption expressly intended for lifting and carrying large blocks of granite. The contraption ranks its own roadside park where it resides under a pavilion in testament to the area’s past as a granite quarrying area pre-1900.

About seven miles east of Tunk Lake is Cherryfield. The town’s fields hold blueberries, not cherries. Cherryfield has thousands of acres of acidic bog land under cultivation for blueberries, providing the largest employment in the area. Known as the blueberry capital of the world, Cherryfield is a don’t-miss stop for anyone interested in historic buildings. Over 40 homes in the town center are listed on the National Historic Register, with many over 200 years old. A self-guided walking tour is a picturesque way to spend a pleasant afternoon and take photos. The town has grown up on both sides of the Narraguagus River, which early townsmen dammed for water power. Not far away, the 1,450-acre Narraguagus Wildlife Management Area protects much of the area between the two main branches of the river and includes critical spawning habitat for Atlantic salmon.

Nothing tells us where Tunk Lake got its name. Originally it was called Tunk Pond and ‘-tunk’ is a suffix to several Native American words which refer to bodies of water. However, there may have been an early settler who went by the name of Tunk and if so, his most visible trace appears to be left in beautiful Tunk Lake. Even without knowing its origins, Tunk Lake is a delight no Downeast visitor will want to miss.

Things to do at Tunk Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Snorkeling
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Snowshoeing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Museum

Fish species found at Tunk Lake

  • Brook Trout
  • Eel
  • Lake Trout
  • Pumpkinseed
  • Salmon
  • Smelt
  • Sunfish
  • Trout

Tunk Lake Photo Gallery

Tunk Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 2,010 acres

Shoreline Length: 16 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 207 feet

Average Depth: 71 feet

Maximum Depth: 222 feet

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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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