Allagash Lake arguably can be called the gem of the Allagash headwater lakes. The scenery alone is worth the trip into this remote and beautiful lake. The spring fishing can be nothing short of fantastic for native brook trout, togue and whitefish.
Allagash Lake is a large lake at 4,210 acres. It has an average depth of 35 feet and at the deepest point is 89 feet. The lake’s waters are cold and well oxygenated, favoring coldwater fish.
The lake is designated by Allagash Wilderness Waterway rules as the most remote and quiet lake in the waterway. The operation of motor vehicles within one mile of the lake is prohibited between May 1 and Sept. 30. No power equipment of any kind is allowed to be used on Allagash Lake or Allagash Stream. Watercraft use is restricted to canoes and kayaks without motors. See http://www.state.me.us/doc/parks/programs/aww/awwrules.htm for rules and regulations that apply to the AWW and the waterway definition of a canoe and kayak.
Access to Allagash Lake is restricted to three primary locations:
1. Upper Allagash Stream — it is about four miles upstream from the lake to the vehicle access location.
2. Johnson Pond — then down Johnson Stream to Allagash Stream, then down the stream to the lake; this is about 4 miles.
3. The carry trail — it is one mile from the gate on the old road-trail to the Carry Trail campsite or the ranger station.
The first two locations reach Allagash Lake at the northwest corner of the lake where Upper Allagash Stream enters the lake. The carry trail gives access to the lake at the southwest corner. See Page 55 of DeLorme’s Maine Atlas and Gazetteer for a good map of the road network used to reach Allagash Lake.
I favor the carry trail access location; if you get rigged up with one of those bicycle-wheel canoe carriers, you can easily tote your canoe to the lake along the well-maintained gravel trail.
The spring fishing “hot spots” are where Upper Allagash Stream enters the lake, the outlet, and around the islands in the southeast corner of the lake. Brook trout that are 18 inches long, weighing 2.5 pounds, are not uncommon, and togue in the 5-pound class are regularly caught by anglers at Allagash Lake.
When I was a ranger on the waterway, I used to jump at the chance to go to Allagash Lake on some type of work detail. After work we would usually go fishing. I don’t remember many evenings when I didn’t get a brookie at least 16 inches long.
My brother Mark came up to go fishing one spring, and I took a few days off to tour him around. We went to Allagash Lake, where I caught a nice, fat 16-inch brookie. I cleaned the trout and tied it off to the dock to keep it fresh. While we were out fishing, we noticed a mink hopping along the shore near the camp. I remember thinking to myself, “I hope that mink doesn’t find my trout.”
Sure enough, when we got back to the camp, my fish was gone. That little mink had eaten a trout that weighed more than he did!
While at Allagash Lake, take some time to climb the trail up to the abandoned fire tower on Allagash Mountain. The 1-mile maintained trail to the summit starts at the ranger station in the southwest corner of the lake.
The ice caves behind the Ice Caves campsite are a unique, natural feature that can be explored when you are not out fishing or paddling. Ice remains in the caves year-round. Serious cave explorers should bring a hard hat, flashlight and rope for safety.
You will notice that the campsites, trails and facilities at Allagash Lake are well taken care of. This is because Allagash Ranger Jay Young takes his job seriously. Jay is there to help make your experience safe and enjoyable. He is knowledgeable about the area and willing to assist you in any way he can. Jay told me that he considers it a privilege to be the ranger assigned to Allagash Lake. He said, “I have to pinch myself every day to make sure I’m not dreaming.”
Allagash Lake is a special place within the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. It provides an opportunity for visitors to experience the peace, quiet and solitude of the natural world. It is a little hard to get to, but well worth the extra effort required to reach this remote lake. Like most things, the rewards are greater when we have to work a little harder to get there.
Waterway notes: The AWW has started a three-phase plan to restore a section of the tramway between Chamberlain and Eagle lakes, which is a National Historic Site. Last winter, 88 cubic yards of gravel and stone were hauled into the tramway location. This will be used to stabilize the muddy portage trail that runs alongside the tramway. During the summer and fall of 2012, a 25-foot section of the tramway will be restored. The long-range plan is to restore as much of the drive mechanism as possible. If you would like to help with donations of money, time, or expertise, call or email me at: 695-3721, ext. 4, or firstname.lastname@example.org