Difficulty: Easy. The 1.7-mile walking trail is mostly smooth and wide, making it great for families with small children. However, there is one section of the trail where the forest floor has not been smoothed out, and this section contains many rocks and tangles of exposed tree roots, making footing trickier. This more difficult section is about 0.4 mile and spans from the east trailhead at Rowell Cove to the first side trail to the shore.
How to get there: From the traffic light at the center of downtown Greenville (at the intersection of Moosehead Lake Road, Pritham Avenue and Lily Bay Road), take Lily Bay Road, which travels along the east side of Moosehead Lake. Follow Lily Bay Road for 13 miles and turn left onto State Park Road at the sign for Lily Bay State Park. A short way down the road, you’ll pass through an entrance booth where you’ll need to pay a small entrance fee. You can collect a park map there. Past the entrance booth, you’ll come to a fork in the road. Bear left and follow the signs to the day parking area near the beach and boat landing on Dunn Point.
Information: Created in 1961 primarily from woodland donated by Scott Paper Company, Lily Bay State Park encompasses 925 acres on the eastern shore of Moosehead Lake, the largest lake in New England. The park is a family-friendly spot for camping, fishing, boating, paddling, picnicking and wildlife watching. It also features a well-maintained easy walking trail that winds through a beautiful mixed forest to several viewpoints along the shore of the lake.
One of the most popular spots in the park is an open area on Dunn Point that includes a sandy beach, a playground, benches and picnic tables scattered through a stand of pines. Nearby is a large boat launch with several wooden docks, a day parking area and the western trailhead for the park’s hiking trail, which stretches 1.7 miles from Dunn Point to Rowell Cove.
Starting from Dunn Point, the hiking trail is wide and smooth, traveling through a forest that contains large white birch and northern cedar trees, as well as balsam fir, yellow birch, hemlock and sugar maples. Along the trail, old wooden signs identify some of these tree species.
The first part of the trail passes by a few campsites and travels along a section of park road to re-enter the forest and trace the lakeshore to Dunn Point, where there’s another cluster of campsites, as well as a parking area and boat launch. A few side trails lead to viewpoints and swimming spots. These side trails are marked on the park trail map and are easy to identify because they are worn into the forest floor, but they aren’t marked with signs.
As the trail nears Dunn Point, it becomes narrower and more rugged, with large exposed tree roots and rocky areas, as well as a couple narrow bog bridges. The trail ends at a park road near the parking area at Dunn Point.
Moosehead Lake fills a basin formed by a glacier and covers an area of 117 square miles, according to the Lily Bay State Park brochure offered at the park entrance station. The lake is filled with togue, brook trout and landlocked salmon.
The Moosehead Region is abundant in wildlife, including some of the state’s most iconic mammals — black bear, moose and deer. Be careful while driving in the area, as moose- and deer-vehicle collisions are common.
On the edge of the North Maine Woods, the Moosehead Region has served as a special, seemingly remote spot for vacationers and outdoor enthusiasts since the mid-1800s. In addition to the scenic Moosehead Lake, the region contains a number of impressive mountains that are popular for hiking, and the famous Appalachian Trail runs through the forest just east of the lake.
Dogs are permitted in the Lily Bay State Park if on a leash no longer than 6 feet at all times. Dogs are not permitted on the beach or inside the “comfort station,” which is a wheelchair accessible building in the park that includes toilets, showers, baby changing stations and outdoor sinks for washing dishes.
For daytime users, the park is open 9 a.m. to sunset daily from Memorial Day through Columbus Day. In the winter, park gates are closed, but visitors are welcome to park outside the gate and engage in park activities. About 5 miles of trails and park roads are groomed for cross-country skiing, and Moosehead Lake is a popular spot for ice fishing.
Park admission varies from free to $6 depending on the visitor’s age and residency. For more information, visit maine.gov/lilybay or call the park at 695-2700.
Personal note: At the entrance booth of Lily Bay State Park, a woman stepped out to collect admission — $4 for my husband and I each — and handed us a park brochure, which included a simple map of campgrounds and the park’s hiking trail. We were exploring the park for the day, we told her. She directed us to park at Dunn Point, then reminded us that our dog needed to be kept on leash, and kindly advised that he might want to go swimming at the boat landing. We thanked her and continued on our way.
I’d heard Lily Bay State Park was a beautiful place to camp, but I was still surprised by the quality and seclusion of the campsites, many of which were separated by forest and located close to the shore of the lake. I was also taken aback by the scenic view from the beach — the lake, dotted with tiny isles, and beyond, layers of mountains.
The park’s trail — which is the epitome of family friendly — was infested with cute, red squirrels, which pestered our dog, Oreo, to no end as they chased each other through the trees. At a particularly beautiful viewpoint along the trail, we sat down on the damp earth and ate lunch while listening to a loon’s eerie call.
We’d prepared to be assaulted by black flies that day, but to our surprise, we didn’t even need to put on insect repellent. Perhaps it was too early in the year for them. Or maybe the fresh breeze off the lake was enough to keep them at bay. Whatever the reason, we were happy to enjoy the warm, sunny day without being bitten by what’s been referred to as “Maine’s state bird” on many a T-shirt and bumper sticker.
We almost went the entire hike without seeing another soul, but near the end of our walk, we came across a family of five from Ellsworth. Laura and Kevin DiDonato were exploring the park with their sons, Noah, 9, Owen, 6, and Caleb, 3. All three boys appeared to be in high spirits and told me they’d just seen two white-tailed deer. The DiDonato family was on a mission to fill their Maine State Parks Passport, which includes 48 state parks and historic sites.
At each location the DiDonatos visit, they locate the “passport station” where they find a special stamp to stamp their passport with, proving that they’ve visited. Lily Bay State Park was their eleventh stamp on the passport.
The Maine State Passport Program, run by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Public Lands, includes small prizes for collecting different amounts of stamps, with the grand prize for 48 stamps being a season pass to Maine state parks and historic sites. For more information, visit maine.gov/dacf/parks/.
More photos of the park: