Favorite Places in Maine: Branch Lake

Posted Aug. 03, 2011, at 4:48 p.m.

To get there

From Bangor or Ellsworth, take Route 1A to Winkumpaugh Corners, follow Winkumpaugh Road to Happytown Road and proceed south a little over 2 miles. Turn left onto Branchview Drive and follow to the end.

Alternate route from Ellsworth: West of Ellsworth on Route 1 turn north onto Happytown Road and drive about 5 miles to Branchview Drive.

Not one to sit around and fry on a beach, I’m one to look for a nice place from which to launch a kayak and enjoy a day on the water. That there happens to be a nice sandy beach at such a locale is a bonus.

Such is the public beach at Branch Lake. Located on the western shore at the Narrows, the beach is well known to many in the area. The property is owned by the State of Maine and eventually will have a public boat launch ramp when plans are worked out with the low bidder and the state on locating and building a new access road.

But until then, you may access the beach and parking area by Happytown Road that runs northwest-southeast, parallel to the western shore of Branch Lake (see DeLorme Map 23, D4,5). Turn onto Branch View Drive and follow it to the end, where you’ll find a parking area, pit toilets and a sandy, north-facing beach bordering Branch’s crystal-clear waters.

If a day at the beach is your thing, pull up a blanket and soak in the sun. You won’t be alone. If a nice paddle is more to your liking, carefully thread your way to the water and set out for some fun. To the south is the lower half of the lake, which has fewer camps than the northern portion. Keep an eye on the weather, the lake can get rough in a stiff breeze.

There are few takeouts around the perimeter, but you’ll find a place or two where you can get out and stretch. Early in the season or after Labor Day will get you around the crowds if solitude is to your liking.