Lake Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge

A Blackburnian warbler
A Blackburnian warbler

Lake Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge is a 20,500-acre property that wraps around Lake Umbagog and straddles the New Hampshire-Maine state line. If you are interested in getting dangerously close to a bull moose, this is the place to go!

Lake Umbagog covers more than 7,000 acres. The lake is more than seven miles long but has an average depth of only 15 feet. Property around the lake that is not protected by Lake Umbagog NWR is protected as state land by either Maine or New Hampshire. The property is located in the ecological transition zone between the northern range of deciduous forests and the southern range of boreal forests. More than 220 species of birds have been documented as being on the property, 137 species of those are known to breed here. There are 24 varieties of warblers and many different species of songbirds. The lake and rivers make an excellent fishery, and that attracts bald eagles, osprey, northern harriers and great blue herons. In the water areas you might also see beaver, mink, muskrat and river otter. In the drier upland areas you might come across fishers, bobcats, marten, black bear, white-tailed deer and the magnificent moose.

Fishing and hunting, in the appropriate seasons and with the appropriate state licenses, is allowed. Kayaking and canoeing are allowed but no motorized boating. And when kayaking or canoeing: be aware of any disturbance you might cause to nesting/breeding/feeding birds. Lake Umbagog hosts a huge number of waterfowl in season and any type of disturbance can cause parents to abandon their young and their eggs. Camping is not allowed at Lake Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge but the New Hampshire State Park right next door has several camping options available, including sites right on the shoreline.

The best way to get around at Lake Umbagog NWR is by boat because you can go almost anywhere on the property. However, the Magalloway River Trail offers a universally accessible 1/3 mile trail through the woods to an overlook on the backwaters of the Magalloway River. This is a good place to stop and look for moose, waterfowl and boreal birds. The trailhead is on Route 16, about 1.5 miles north of the refuge headquarters.

Fog in the morning at Lake Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge
A foggy morning at Lake Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge
Upper photo of Lake Umbagog NWR courtesy of John & Karen Hollingsworth, US Fish & Wildlife Service
Photo of the Blackburnian warbler courtesy of Bob Steele, US Fish & Wildlife Service
Lower photo of Lake Umbagog NWR courtesy of Lauren Gore, US Fish & Wildlife Service