Wild Logo v4

9 Best Recreational Lakes near Portland, ME

Plenty of lakes and ponds surround Portland, but not many offer public access. Here's a list of the best lakes with public-friendly facilities and plenty of recreational opportunities.
ItIsWild.com: Best Lakes near Portland, ME

Portland isn’t short on water recreation, but it’s not all about the Atlantic here – there are plenty of fantastic lakes and ponds less than an hour’s drive away.

Although dozens surround the city, public access can be problematic. Here’s a list of the most visitor-friendly lakes with public access and fantastic recreational opportunities.

Whether you’re into wakeboarding, lakeside camping, or fishing, there are options here. Check out what Portland has to offer!

Lakes near Portland:

  1. Highland Lake
  2. Sebago Lake
  3. Little Sebago Lake
  4. Long Lake
  5. Crescent Lake
  6. Crystal Lake
  7. Thomas Pond
  8. Moose Pond
  9. Trickey Pond
Lakes near Portland Maine Comparison Table
Comparison Table

1. Highland Lake

Lake in Maine during fall
Source: depositphotos
  • Website: Highland Lake
  • Distance from Portland: 11 miles (30 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics

A short 11-mile drive from downtown, the 634-acre Highland Lake offers a quick escape for those lucky enough to get there early to find a parking space. 

Residences and other tracts of private property surround most of the lakefront. A small public access area exists on the southeast corner of the lake in Falmouth. 

Those planning to take a large motorboat on a trailer should either bring a smaller canoe or kayak, or choose another lake. 

No facilities exist for launching larger vessels into Highland Lake. No facilities exist at the lakefront access point, though those who bring their small boats brag about the fishing along the lake. 

Those wishing to fish in deeper waters should set a course to the lake’s northern end to try to catch Atlantic salmon, splake, or alewife herring. Smallmouth and largemouth bass and trout are other top fish in Highland Lake. 

2. Sebago Lake

Sebago Lake
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Sebago Lake
  • Distance from Portland: 25 miles (50 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing

The deepest and second largest lake in the state, the 28,700-acre Sebago Lake, has nearly 105 miles of shoreline encircling it. 

Located 25 miles northwest of Portland, the best access point for recreational activities is Sebago Lake State Park, one of the original Maine state parks when it opened in 1938. 

In addition to the lake, this 1,400-acre park has bogs, ponds, beaches, and woodlands to enjoy, along with a large campground. 

The historic Songo Lock within the park controls water access along the short Songo River, a narrow meandering 3.1-mile-long waterway that connects Sebago Lake to Brandy Pond and Long Lake. 

Popular park activities include canoeing, paddleboarding, motor boating, hiking, and swimming. The park’s hiking trails have become great places for wintertime snowshoeing, and anglers put on their winter clothes to come here for ice fishing. 

Serious and amateur anglers enjoy these waters. Common catches include white and yellow perch, chain pickerel, pumpkinseed sunfish, landlocked Atlantic salmon, and multiple varieties of trout. 

Water in the lake ultimately flows into the Presumpscot River, a nearly 26-mile-long waterway that drains into Casco Bay – an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean – a little north of Portland. 

3. Little Sebago Lake

Little Sebago Lake
Source: flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0
  • Website: Little Sebago Lake
  • Distance from Portland: 24 miles (45 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing

A couple of miles east of Sebago Lake and approximately 20 miles north of downtown Portland, Little Sebago Lake offers great fishing possibilities similar to its larger lake neighbor. 

The biggest challenge anglers have in getting their boat into Little Sebago Lake is the limited access available. The town of Windham maintains a public boat launch along the central western point of the lake along Mt. Hunger Shore Road. 

Aside from that spot, most of the remaining shoreline around Little Sebago Lake – including all of the islands within the approximately 2,000-acre lake – is private property. 

Residents of the area support the nonprofit Little Sebago Lake Association, which advocates on behalf of balancing recreation and conservation in the lake. 

They hope to keep the lake’s greatest treasure – its abundant fish population – in great shape for future generations to enjoy. Top catches include smallmouth and largemouth bass, chain pickerel, and brown trout. 

4. Long Lake

Long Lake Maine
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Long Lake
  • Distance from Portland: 31 miles (55 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing

Long Lake is located north of Brandy Pond and Sebago Lake. Over 4,850 acres in size, this long-and-narrow lake stretches from Harrison at the north end to Naples at the south end. 

From downtown Portland, it is slightly more than a 30-mile drive to the Long Lake Marina at Naples and approximately 41 miles to the boat launch in Harrison. 

South of Naples, the lake drains into the 320-meter-long Chute River – sometimes touted to be the world’s shortest, though shorter ones exist – before continuing in Brandy Pond. 

Long Lake, down through Sebago Lake, was connected to Portland by the Cumberland and Oxford Canal that opened in 1832. This led to greater access to the forests and natural resources in the region.

Popular recreation activities include tubing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, kayaking, boating, and fishing. 

A commercial riverboat cruise attracts tourists and locals alike. 

Anglers come to Long Lake for brook and lake trout, burbot, bullhead, rainbow smelt, and white sucker. 

5. Crescent Lake

Kayaker on a lake in Maine
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Crescent Lake
  • Distance from Portland: 29 miles (45 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing

Approximately 715 acres in size, Crescent Lake offers one of the quietest lake destinations in Cumberland County. 

Heavily forested areas and privately owned land border nearly all of the lake. Boating, kayaking, paddleboarding, and fishing are popular activities on this body of water.

At the south end of the lake, a one-mile-long navigable stream known as the Tenny River connects Crescent Lake with Panther Pond. A smaller stream drains water from these sources into Lake Sebago. 

Fish caught in this lake include cusk, white perch, landlocked salmon, and bass. 

6. Crystal Lake

Crystal Lake in Maine
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Crystal Lake
  • Distance from Portland: 22 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics

Located 20 miles north of downtown, Crystal Lake is a 189-acre body of water in the town of Gray. This municipality established Wilkies Beach on the southern shore of the lake as a public recreation site. However, the town limits access to this site to town residents. 

Enforcement is spotty but certainly increases during the peak of summer. The beach area remains open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, though winter ice fishing is permitted. 

Adjacent to the beach is a paved boat ramp for launching kayaks, canoes, and larger craft.

The lake’s close proximity to Interstate 95 helps to make it a location known by people throughout Maine. The top fish in this lake are chain pickerel, brook trout, brown trout, and largemouth bass.

Those unfamiliar with the area should confirm that they wish to visit this Crystal Lake rather than the identically-named one in Harrison just north of Long Lake. 

Originally named Anonymous Pond, this other Crystal Lake covers 446 acres and is surrounded by Harrison. The driving distance between these two distinct Crystal Lakes is 26 miles. 

7. Thomas Pond

  • Website: Thomas Pond
  • Distance from Portland: 26 miles (50 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing

Thomas Pond sits between the northeast corner of Sebago Lake and Panther Pond. Forest land and some dwellings separate this 442-acre pond from these other bodies of water, though a narrow channel connects the pond to Sebago Lake.

Deemed small enough that many tourists never think of visiting it, locals consider this pond a great place to sail, swim, or kayak. 

Although the best facilities are a short distance away at Sebago Lake, there is an unpaved boat ramp suitable for launching kayaks, canoes, and smaller motorboats. It’s located just off Roosevelt Tail (Route 302).

While it does not get the attention or traffic found in the much larger Sebago Lake, those who visit this pond will find white perch, rainbow smelt, redbreast and pumpkinseed sunfish, landlocked salmon, as well as largemouth and smallmouth bass. 

8. Moose Pond

Moose Pond in Maine
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Moose Pond
  • Distance from Portland: 44 miles (1h 15min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing

A narrow, elongated 1,617-acre lake, Moose Pond has three distinct basins, each with its favorite fishing areas. 

The Sabatis Island Day Use Area offers the best access to the lake along US Highway 302. A 45-mile drive from Portland, this spot near the northern portion of the pond is a great starting place for an adventure on the lake. 

An important part of this area’s scenery is the tallest mountain in southern Maine, Pleasant Mountain. Located west of the pond, this 2,006-foot-high peak and adjacent lands are managed by the Loon Echo Land Trust, an entity that maintains a number of trails that are popular for birdwatching, hiking, and winter snowshoe adventures. 

On the water, anglers will enjoy fishing for lake trout, landlocked salmon, golden shiners, rainbow smelt, and pumpkinseed sunfish. Watching the sun disappear behind Pleasant Mountain is an added bonus. 

9. Trickey Pond

Pond in fall in Maine
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Trickey Pond
  • Distance from Portland: 33 miles (1 h)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing

A 33-mile drive from downtown, Trickey Pond is a 315-acre body of water near the northern edge of Sebago Lake. 

This pond is located between Sebago Cove and Brandy Pond, in a region north of Portland with other nearby recreation destinations. 

Guests may access Trickey Pond at a parking area and ramp on the south end of this waterway. Although this is a very basic site, it does provide a location to get a boat into the water.

On the north end, a family-run campground provides beaches, cafes, and boat rentals, making it the most visitor-friendly spot on the lake.

Trickey Pond is highly regarded for the clarity of its water. Top fish catches include bass, white perch, lake trout, and landlocked salmon. Locals come here when other lakes get crowded with tourists.

Beaches in Maine:

Parks in Maine:

You Might Also Like: