Few lakes can put you in the center of things while also giving you feeling of getting away from it all. But Sebago does all of this and more. Maine’s deepest (300 feet) and second largest lake (45 square miles) is just 30 minutes from the state’s biggest city, and has remained astoundingly pristine through more than 100 years of hard use. There are lots of ramps around the lake, although most are privately owned and charge a fee. An exception is the state ramp at Sebago State Park, at the northern end of the lake. The ramp puts trailerboaters and paddlers in the clear, lazy waters of the winding Songo River, which in itself is a neat place to explore in a kayak or canoe.
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Once you clear the Songo inlet, you’ll most likely see a cluster of boats anchored off a long sandy beach just east of the river mouth. According to the Sebago Lake Fishing & Boating Guide chart, the beach is officially known as “The Spit”, and features nearly a half-mile of soft sand and clear water. The Spit features wading waters on both its north and south sides, with the north side being safe even for toddlers. It’s a popular spot on hot summer days.
At 305 feet deep, Sebago boasts water so clean it has been the sole source of drinking water for the City of Portland and environs since 1869. Because Sebago supplies the drinking water for 15 percent of Maine’s citizens, the extreme southeast end of the lake is off-limits to boats. But that still leaves one with a lot of water to investigate.
Sebago offers wonderful views of New Hampshire’s White Mountains to the west. To see the Northeast’s highest peak, Mount Washington, from a small boat on a large lake is truly awe-inspiring.
The heart of Sebago is Jordan Bay. Protected to the west by Raymond Neck and Frye Island, Jordan is where you’ll find the most boating activity on any given weekend. It’s home to several marinas, including Richardson’s Boat Yard, tucked inside the Sebago Lake Basin and dating back to the 1920s. Other marinas on Jordan Bay include Port Harbor Marine-Jordan Bay and Panther Run Marina.
Frye Island is the largest island on the lake, but there really isn’t any place to keep your boat for long periods unless you’re an island resident. But don’t let that stop you from grabbing a bite at the lake’s best-known eatery, Frye’s Leap Cafe, located next to the ferry terminal on the northeast side of the island. It’s a popular spot for lunch or dinner.
If you’re looking for a resort-type family atmosphere, you’ll find it at the 775-acre Point Sebago Resort. Located just east of the 1,400-acre Sebago Lake State Park, the resort offers rentals of kayaks, canoes, sailboats, pontoon boats and transient slips. It also has an 18-hole golf course and a big sandy beach.
Sebago is of course a wonderful spot for exploring on one’s own in a kayak or canoe. Many paddlers head for the series of islands in the northeast part of the lake, as they offer good protection in any winds and good places to take a dip. West of the Songo River, Witch Cove, which connects to long, narrow Sebago Cove, is another good, protected paddling venue. Only experienced paddlers should consider crossing the lake’s open waters.
Sebago boaters should note that fair summer weather can change quickly and dramatically on this big lake. Strong winds can quickly stack up a stiff chop, making the run back to the ramp or marina wet and difficult for those in small-boats. Mid-afternoon thunderstorms can barrel out of the west with surprising speed, so pay attention to the weather reports and an eye on the sky, especially when crossing open water.