Mountain climbing in Maine: Outdoor adventures await at Lily Bay State Park


The sand and shingle beach at Lily Bay State Park is a fun place with great views on a summer day. Carey Kish photo

The blinking yellow traffic light on Route 6/15 in central Greenville is the starting point for many great adventures in the Moosehead Lake Region. Guidebooks, tourism brochures, shopkeepers, the visitor center, and locals all point to the place when giving directions to area attractions like Lily Bay State Park.

From the blinking amber light, travel north on Lily Bay Road for 9 miles to reach the entrance to Lily Bay State Park while taking in the big picture of sprawling Moosehead Lake from the slopes of Blair Hill. Follow the park road west to its end at Dunn Point and a large field lined with pine trees, then drive across the grass to the sand and pebble beach for Heckuva views.

The distinctive bulk of Big Moose Mountain rises 9 miles to the west and its curving northeast ridge line culminates in the breezy top of Eagle Rock. Far behind is the rounded dome of Coburn Mountain, which is more than 1,700 meters high. Closer, that’s Deer Island out there and Sugar Island just on the other side of the narrowness.

Dunn Point Beach is a pretty nice place to spread out a camping chair, get a cold soda out of the cooler, open a good book and linger for a few hours, interrupted, of course, by several refreshing baths in the cool lake water. This is a popular place, but it never feels crowded. It seems like there is peace and quiet enough to walk around amid the 92 acre park.

Lily Bay State Park has campgrounds at Dunn Point and Rowell Cove. Carey Kish photo

You could easily spend a full day at Lily Bay State Park, but even better would be to stay for a long weekend, or maybe a week, enough time to really settle in and disconnect from the world. Campsites in Dunn Point and Rowell Cove have space for everything from tents to RVs in 90 campsites, each with a picnic table and fire ring. There are toilets and a central shower house.

Launch a canoe or kayak to explore the shoreline between Dunn Point and Rowell Cove, paddle to Sugar Island, or explore the many islets around Laker Point and Matthews Cove on the north side of the park. For hikers, the beautiful Lily Bay Trail runs 2 miles along the lake, visiting Turtle Point and Journal Beach along the way. Go back down Park Road for a cute 4-mile circular hike.

Lily Bay State Park is an excellent base camp for many other outdoor activities on the east side of Moosehead Lake, from hiking and paddling to sightseeing and wildlife watching.

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife maintains a boat launch at the north end of Prong Pond, 2 miles south of the park. Explore the undeveloped nature of this surprisingly wild 447 acre pond and take in the magnificent views of Elephant Mountain and Blue Ridge.

The Elephant Mountain B-52 Crash Site is 7 miles east of Lily Bay Road, but only a quarter of a mile walk to the scattered wreckage of the large plane that crashed on January 24, 1963. A moving experience you won’t soon forget.

The Lily Bay Trail runs along Moosehead Lake from Dunn Point to Rowell Cove. Carey Kish photo

In Blue Ridge, reached via Katahdin Iron Works Road, the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands has developed a 3-mile hiking loop that visits Rum Pond and leads over the ridge of the same name to tiny Cranberry Pond.

Travel north of the park on Lily Bay Road, then turn east on Frenchtown Road to find the trailhead for Number Four Mountain. Ledges and the steps of the abandoned fire tower at the 2,894-foot summit offer great views of the mountains that surround Moosehead.

A little further is the tiny Kokadjo (population according to the sign in the city “not many”) on First Roach Pond. Stop and say hello at the trading post then continue to Spencer Bay Road for fun paddling and moose spotting on Lazy Tom Bog and for phenomenal views of the Little Spencer and Big Spencer mountains, the latter another good one Hiking option.

The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer and AMC Maine Mountain Guide are always helpful companions for your summer adventures in the Lily Bay area. However, when in doubt, just ask a friendly Greenville local. And remember that important blinking amber light.

Carey Kish from the mountain. Desert Island is the author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast and editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide. Follow Carey’s adventures on Facebook @CareyKish

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