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Only in stoic northern New England would Long Pond be called a pond instead of a lake. The 2557-acre lake, in Maine's Kennebec and Moose River Valleys Region is one of a chain of seven lakes called Belgrade Lakes. The Town of Belgrade Lakes lies only 15 miles northwest of downtown Augusta, so the lakes area has become something of a bedroom community. The easy commute has brought more and more people to the 40 square mile township with its many miles of lakeshore. Originally settled in 1774, the lake was for many years sparsely settled except for summer cottages and resorts. In the early 1900s, a large resort hotel brought hundreds of summer visitors to the lakes. The reason for Long Pond's enduring popularity is its upper New England charm. The writer Ernest Thompson spend much of his early years at neighboring Great Pond. He later went on to write the award-winning "On Golden Pond". Although filmed in New Hampshire, the movie captured the essence and spirit of seasonal, multi-generational cottage life at a New England pond. The many coves, wooded shore and abundant wildlife allow the visitor to lose themselves in nature's beauty and solitude. And many soon long for a cottage here to call their own.
The area around the lake is networked with streams and ponds. Before Belgrade Stream gets to Long Pond, it flows across the old Great Pond dam then on into the lake. Upon leaving the Long Pond, it meanders south, then east until it flows across the Wings Mil Dam and eventually ends up in Messalonskee Lake before continuing on to join the Kennebec River. At the dam where the Belgrade Stream joins Long Pond, the tiny village of Belgrade Lakes acts as grocery and mail drop for the people around both lakes. Little industry remains in Belgrade Lakes except a couple of lumber mills and small town stores. Belgrade Lakes has transformed itself into home base for lake people and visitors, with festivals, cottage and boat services and a very active lakes preservation association dedicated to improving water quality and recreation opportunities for residents and visitors alike. One of their current projects is to restore the village docks and mail boat to their former glory. The Great Pond Mail Boat is the last inland water mail route in Maine.If the fundraising project is successful, the mail boat will likely continue and cottagers will once again be able to come to the stores by boat for their donuts and the latest newspapers.
Residents and visitors alike on Long Pond find plenty to keep them busy. The lake is popular for swimming for the youngsters, including from the swimming beach at Belgrade Village. All sorts of water craft are used, including power boating, sailboats, personal water craft and pontoon boats. These lake lubbers engage in water skiing, tubing, sailing, wake boarding, canoeing and kayaking. Paddle boats can be rented in town and at commercial marinas located along the chain of lakes. Away from the shore, there are plenty of trails for hiking to local 'Blueberry Hill', French's Mountain and Mt Phillip. The nearby Kennebec Highlands' 6,000 acres contain the highest peaks in Kennebec County, miles of pristine streams, several wetlands, and five undeveloped ponds. Miles of trails in the highlands provide access for hiking, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, mountain biking, horseback riding, hunting, fishing and other outdoor pursuits. An 18-hole golf course is located at Belgrade Lakes. Many local eating establishments can be found both in town and in the surrounding countryside. And, nearby Augusta offers all types of shopping, cultural activities and nightlife.
Long Pond is noted for its excellent fishing. Anglers try for black crappie, brook trout (stocked regularly), brown trout, chain pickerel, landlocked salmon (also stocked), largemouth bass, northern pike, pumpkinseed, smallmouth bass, walleye, yellow and white perch. There are ice fishing derbies, bass tournaments and other angler challenges every year. Belgrade Stream on both sides of the lake is also productive fishing waters. Boat launch facilities are available at Peninsula park in Belgrade Lakes. Most of the other lakes in the chain can be reached from the connecting streams with no more than a short portage. I winter, ice fishing is king, with locals knowing the best spot to jig for pan fish or nab a pike or walleye. Guide service is available. As always, check fish consumption guidelines before eating locally caught fish.
Vacation Rentals are usually available along the Long Pond lakefront. The entire Belgrade Lakes area is well-supplied with all types of lodging choices, with guest cottages, private homes, hotels and bed-and-breakfast located around the villages of Belgrade Lakes, Rome and Mount Vernon in the lakes. Some real estate is available and the discerning property buyer will be able to find lakefront property with a bit of perseverance. So, plan a trip to Maine's golden ponds. You wont regret it. you'll only regret it took you so long to come here!
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