In 2010, the City of Ellsworth, the Trust for Public Land, the Forest Society of Maine, and the Frenchman Bay Conservancy all worked together to purchase conservation easements on two parcels of land in the Branch Lake area. The success of this conservation project was due in part to financial support provided by the Land for Maine’s Future program. The parcel on the lake’s east shore is about 450 acres large and houses the 239-acre Branch Lake Public Forest. This property is home to a splendid network of hiking paths, including a couple of moderately difficult trails that lead right down to the water. Branch Lake Public Forest also presents visitors with fishing, hunting, birdwatching, and snowshoeing opportunities. The parcel on the lake’s west shore is around 750 acres large and is intersected by the aptly named Boat Launch Road, from which a lovely paddling session can begin.
Branch Lake is the focus of conservation efforts due in large part to its status as the lone source of drinking water for Ellsworth, a city of more than 8,000 people. It also drains into Blue Hill Bay, which is located just west of Mount Desert Island, one of Maine’s most visited destinations. Additionally, Branch Lake is home to populations of brown trout and landlocked salmon, and its surrounding woodlands are suitable for timber harvesting. Efforts to preserve the Branch Lake area’s woods and waters have therefore been greatly beneficial to local fishermen and loggers.
Closest Town: Ellsworth
Activities: Hiking, Fishing, Wildlife Watching, Hunting, Birdwatching, Paddling, Kayaking, & Canoeing
Region: Downeast Maine – Hancock & Washington
Directions: To Branch Lake Public Forest from Ellsworth, head southwest on Oak Street and keep following it as it becomes State Street and Bangor Road. The forest will be on your left.
Banner photo: Branch Lake by Gail Thompson