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Portage Lake, Maine: A Gem in Aroostook


Location and Overview


Located in the heart of Aroostook County, Portage Lake is a quaint town located in the northern region of Maine. Aroostook County, known for its vast forests and friendly community, provides a charming backdrop for Portage Lake. With a modest population and covering 34 square miles, the town is an inviting haven for those seeking a peaceful and close-knit community. The geography is characterized by the pristine beauty of woodlands, offering residents and visitors alike a taste of Maine's natural wonders. The architectural style mirrors the town's rustic charm, with traditional New England federal and colonial stylings. The general feel is a harmonious blend of woodland tranquility and a warm, close community, making Portage Lake a captivating destination for exploration.


History and Notable Figures


Portage Lake boasts a rich history, marked by the resilience and contributions of its residents. Settled in the 1840s by Mathew Stevens, this rural farming community has benefited from trade and cultural exchange with Canada. Lucy Ellen Hayward Baker, the noted American painter who has work featured in the Met museum, was born in Portage Lake. 


5 Fast Facts on Portage Lake, Maine:


1. Natural Beauty: Portage Lake is a stunning glacial lake located in Aroostook County, Maine. It's known for its crystal-clear waters, surrounded by lush forests and towering mountains. The lake is a popular destination for swimming, boating, fishing, and camping. 

2. Rich History: The name "Portage Lake" comes from the French word "portage," which means "to carry." This refers to the historical use of the lake as a transportation route for Native Americans and early settlers. They would portage their canoes and goods between the lake and the nearby Presumpscot River.

3. Home to Unique Wildlife: Portage Lake is a haven for a variety of wildlife, including loons, bald eagles, beavers, and moose. The lake is also home to a rare fish called the Arctic char, which is only found in a few other places in Maine.

4. Four Seasons of Fun: Portage Lake is a year-round destination. In the summer, visitors can enjoy swimming, boating, and fishing. In the fall, the leaves change color, creating a spectacular backdrop for hiking and camping. In the winter, the lake is a popular spot for ice fishing and snowmobiling.

5. Easily Accessible: Portage Lake is located just off Route 117, about an hour's drive from Bangor, Maine. There are several campgrounds and resorts located on the lake, making it easy to find a place to stay and enjoy all that it has to offer.


Weather and Climate


The weather in Portage Lake offers a true New England experience, with distinct seasons and a cold winter. From vibrant fall foliage to snowy winter landscapes, residents enjoy a diverse range of weather conditions. The Koppen climate classification defines Portage Lake as a Humid Continental Climate.


Accommodations and Dining Experiences


For those looking to stay in Portage Lake, the Dean's Motor Lodge offers rooms and meals just a stone's throw away from the lake.


Recreational Activities


The town of Portage Lake offers an array of activities for individuals and families alike. From scenic trails and nature walks to relaxing days at nearby beaches, there is something for everyone. The Portage Lake Historical Society allows one to delve into the past the Portage Market offers fresh goods from the local farms.




Getting to Portage Lake is a straightforward journey, with well-connected interstates and reliable transportation options. Whether arriving by car, train, or plane, the town is just a 35 mile drive by car from Caribou. 


Real Estate Overview


For those considering making Portage Lake their home, the real estate landscape is very affordable with amenable taxes as well.


Education Opportunities


Education in Portage Lake is facilitated by a single public school. There are several private schools in Aroostook County.


Local Amenities


Portage Lake provides residents with essential amenities, including supermarkets like Coffin's General Store. While the town may not boast expansive shopping districts, the local amenities cater to daily needs, fostering a sense of community and convenience.




In conclusion, Portage Lake, Maine, stands as a hidden gem within Aroostook County. With its rich history, diverse recreational opportunities, and welcoming community, this town offers a unique and inviting experience for both residents and visitors. From the charming architecture to the captivating natural landscapes, Portage Lake is a testament to the beauty of small-town living in the heart of Maine.


What makes Portage Lake unique?

Portage Lake's uniqueness lies in its blend of rich history, natural beauty, and a close-knit community. The town offers a tranquil escape with diverse recreational activities for residents and visitors.

Where is Portage Lake?

Portage Lake is a town in Aroostook County, Maine, nestled in the northern part of the state. It's about an hour drive from Bangor.

What's the lake like?

The lake is the lifeblood of the town, offering crystal-clear waters for swimming, boating, and fishing. It's surrounded by breathtaking forests and mountains, making it a nature lover's paradise.

What are some fun things to do there?

In warmer months, enjoy lake activities, hiking trails, and camping under starry skies. In winter, ice fishing and snowmobiling are popular. The annual Chub Fishing Tournament is a unique springtime event.

What's the atmosphere like in Portage Lake?

It's a small, tight-knit community with a charming rural atmosphere. Expect friendly locals, quiet streets, and a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle.

Is there anything unique about Portage Lake?

Besides the stunning scenery, the lake is home to rare Arctic char, a fish not found in many other Maine locations. The town also has a rich history connected to Native American use of the lake as a transportation route.