Umbagog Lake is a quiet peaceful place. Pronounced Um-Bay-Gog as per the locals here in the Great North Woods. This may be due to the bays and coves that completely surround the lake or it may be because that is how the Abenaki Indian tribe pronounced it when they named the lake Umbagog meaning shallow water. When looking at the lake or at the State Park campground information you see that it is 12 miles to the furthest campsite so how could the lake be so shallow. Well the southern end is man made and came from the creation of the Errol dam that is located a couple miles down river on the Androscoggin. This made the average depth of the lake 12-14 feet. When venturing to the northern end you can find the “deep hole” where the lake gets up to 40-60 feet. Up here is where you find the Rapid river and Magalloway river entering the lake and the Androscoggin exiting the lake.
Unbeknownst to some, Umbagog is one of the few lakes that has remote camp sites, sites that offer no water spigot, no electricity, and a pit toilet which we here call the “Blue Loo.” To some this is a major deterrent to others this is exactly what they are looking for. This is the only place in the state where you can rent your own personal island for $30 dollars a night, and island where you can see both the sunrise and the sunset on any given day. All of these sites are inaccessible by car so you either have to pack light and paddle to the site or make use of the transportation service offered by the state park.
Those of you that are deterred by these great remote sites have the other option of staying on base camp. This is where I spend all my time as the interpreter here as I am camping out the entire summer meeting as many campers as I can. From base camp one can see 3 different Osprey nests, 1/3 of the lake, sometimes eagles and loons, and of course a beautiful sunset over Dixville Notch every evening. During this sunset the 9 pairs of loons on the lake often serenade you as they call out to each other singing the sun down and the stars out. For those of you that enjoy staying up late can enjoy the beautiful night sky where one can even see the Milky Way streak across the constellations.
To pick one thing about Umbagog to be my favorite is impossible. Being on the water, or at a remote site provides great opportunities for peace and relaxation, the base camp offers similar scenic views and a sandy beach to go swimming on, the mornings are full of all sorts of unique bird sounds, and the nights have their loons, owls and stars.
Want to learn more these unique sights and sounds? Visit me at Umbagog Lake State Park and attend a program. Throughout the week I have programs that focus on loons, moose, and birds of prey. I also have a program where we investigate the trees of the campground and even one that focuses on the night sky and the stories behind the constellations.