Thursday, February 25, 2016

Lamoine State Park, Downeast Maine

With winter starting to lose some of its punch and vacation season not too far over the horizon, it seems like a good time to post another review of one of Maine’s state parks.  I visited eight of the state’s 12 state parks with campgrounds last year, a number of which were return visits to places I had visited before on several occasions.  Lamoine State Park, located in Downeast Maine between Ellsworth and Mount Desert Island was one of them. Last year marked my fourth trip there. It has become one of the parks I have to visit at least once every year.  

Shoreline activity at Lamoine State Park

Lamoine State Park is relatively small at 55 acres.  It is located on the site of an old coaling station for naval ships, which is actually a lot more picturesque than it may sound.  There is scant evidence of the old coaling station now aside from a few historical markers, since it closed in 1912.  The University of Maine was responsible for the facility until 1949, when it was offered to the state of Maine.  I was interested to learn that some of the concrete that comprised part of the old station was reportedly hauled across the bay to be used in construction of the municipal pier in the town of Bar Harbor, which is a world-famous tourist spot just a few miles away as the crow flies.

A view of Frenchmen's Bay from Lamoine State Park, with Mount Desert Island in the background.

The bay, Frenchmen’s Bay, looms large at Lamoine State Park. The park sits on the edge, with stunning views of Mount Desert Island and the area coastline.  A number of fisherman moor their boats at Lamoine State Park, and the boat ramp is busy during the warm weather months with both commercial and recreational users.  It is a very popular spot for ocean kayakers, since the bay is sheltered from the high wind and waves of the open ocean.  There are picnic sites and open areas right along the edge of the bay, and lots of places to sit at the water’s edge and enjoy the view.  The shoreline is very accessible, and many people take advantage of it to explore and take photos.  I personally haven’t seen a lot of wildlife while exploring Lamoine State Park, aside from an elderly porcupine who waddled through my campsite one Saturday evening and proceeded to climb up a tree, completely oblivious to me.  There are a great number of birds however, particularly sea birds.  Eagles are native to the area, and it would not be surprising at all to see one there.

Old Man Porcupine, my 2014 camping buddy at Lamoine State Park

The campground itself is right on the water’s edge, and none of the park’s 62 campsites is more than a few minutes walk from the bay.  Only about ten of them have direct water views however, and they are often reserved well in advance.  As a matter of fact, Lamoine State Park is often close to fully booked during the peak camping months of June, July and August.  It’s beautiful, affordable, and just a short drive from Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, so reserve your site early if you are planning to stay.  May and September are the easiest months to get your choice of campsites on short notice, though there are really no bad campsites at Lamoine State Park.  It just depends on what you prefer.  The campground is wooded and many sites offer a good deal of privacy.  There are some sites that are not separated, so several parties can camp together if they like, and two large-group camping sites are available as well.  As with most Maine state park campgrounds, there is no electricity or water hookups on the campsites at Lamoine State Park.  A bathroom and shower facility, always well-maintained I’ve found, is located in the center of the campground, though there are also outhouses located near some of the sites that are a bit further away from the center.  The park offers a playground and volleyball court, as well as a large treehouse for children, a picnic area with numerous picnic tables, and a few walking trails.  Bring warm clothing, since the breezes off the water can be quite chilly at night, especially early and late in the camping season, I’ve found.  While there’s lots to do at Lamoine State Park, swimming is not one of those things.  The bay is really too cold and rocky for swimming unless you are a penguin.

A sculpture on site at Lamoine State Park

Lamoine State Park, like all the Maine state parks I have visited, is run by a friendly and professional staff who are very friendly and always willing to help out or answer questions.  The grounds are exceptionally well-kept and they do a great job of making sure all visitors have a safe and enjoyable stay.
A remnant of the old coaling station at Lamoine State Park

One of the best things for a camper like me who is only into semi-roughing it is that the city of Ellsworth is only eight miles away.  If I find I’ve forgotten to pack something or have a craving for a lobster roll, it’s just a short drive to civilization.  Even though you can literally see Mount Desert Island from the park, you have to drive around an inlet and across the bridge to get there, which takes about a half hour.  Mount Desert Island offered endless opportunities for visitors, not the least of which are Acadia National Park and the town of Bar Harbor.  I frequently take day trips to the island when I am staying at Lamoine State Park.

If you want to know more about Lamoine State Park, there is a link to their official web page.  It really is a beautiful spot that captures the essence of coastal Maine, and I highly recommend it for anyone making a trip Downeast.

All photographs in this posting were taken by the author.


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