The 20 Best Backcountry Lakes: Wassataquoik and Little Wassataquoik Lakes

Baxter State Park, Maine
Baxter State Park

Pass Sandy Stream Pond en route to Wassataquoik Lakes. (Photo by Irwin Barret/Age Fotostock)

Hemmed by the green peaks of the Wassataquoik and South Pogy Mountains and frequented by lumbering moose, this 178-acre lake and its little cousin couldn’t be more Maine. Even better: You can explore their islands by boat without portaging (reserve a canoe before leaving, get a key, and pick it up at the backcountry rental outpost). Find the Wassataquoik duo tucked into the heart of 200,000-acre Baxter State Park, where they’re accessible only by a 9.9-mile hike that passes a number of smaller ponds along the way. The lake’s lean-to (sleeps four) allows for ultralight, tent-free loads, and from it you can explore mossy, multitiered Green Falls on an easy, .1-mile side trip. Back at the lake, have your camera ready to capture the nesting loon that has virtually taken over the island in the middle of Wassataquoik. Cast for arctic char, a fish species dating from the Ice Age, in the 75-foot-deep lake. And, of course, keep an eye out for mega- fauna. “It’s easy to see moose in this part of the park,” says Baxter naturalist Jean Hoekwater. “But seeing them at night is a thrill. At night, there’s a good chance you’ll see moose in the water.”

Trailhead Roaring Brook Campground (45.919491, -68.858376) Season Mid-May to mid-October; fall is the best (when the moose are frisky and the leaves are changing). Permits Park entry is $14 per car; campsites and lean-tos are $20 per night (reserve up to four months in advance) Boat Rentals $8 per day from the park