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She rented her kayak from one of the outfitters near Cross Lake, the same one that handles some of the lake's vacation rentals. As the mist rises off the 2,470-acre lake, she slides the boat into the water. It has been a long wait, but she is finally here on the water in northern Maine. The trees ring the shore, colors glowing red, gold and amber in the early morning light. A pair of loons wearing their best black and white glide beside the kayak. The only thing missing from the perfect morning on Cross Lake is a moose. The day is young, however, with almost 14 miles of tree-lined shoreline and thousands of acres of water before her. Who knows, the moose may be out there just waiting for her to turn the corner.
Cross Lake is part of a chain of lakes in Aroostoock County, Maine. The chain starts to the north with Long Lake which feeds into Mud Lake and on into Cross Lake. The outlet of Cross Lake flows into Square Lake and from there to Eagle Lake. The lakes are connected with thoroughfares that are navigable by small boats. Kayaks are a fantastic way to explore the chain, giving access to all the lakes. During the 1940's and 50's, two salmon dams between Mud Lake and Cross Lake were used to catch salmon to breed for stocking the area's lakes. The dams resulted in the death of some fish and were made inoperable, but they still threaten navigation. Boaters should be aware.
Salmon are still prevalent in the chain of lakes, and the Maine Department of Game and Inland Fisheries periodically stocks Cross Lake with landlocked salmon. The trout fishing is also exceptional with abundant populations of brook trout, and there are healthy populations of golden shiner and yellow perch. In addition to the area's moose, hunters can take deer and bear in season.
Cross Lake has a long history as an outdoorsman's vacation destination. As early as the 1800's sporting camps were springing up along the shores of the lake, and in 1890 a bridge across Mud Lake and the Cross Lake thoroughfare became the main route between Fort Kent and Caribou. Lakefront cabins and cottages are still tucked in the trees along the lake's shore, and visitors can find a variety of vacation rentals. Cross Lake is also the name of a village with a store, outfitter and access to a few amenities. The lake and village are 30 minutes north of Caribou, making anything a visitor might need a short drive away.
The chain of lakes including Cross Lake is in Aroostook County. Known for its winter sports, the county has miles of trails for snowshoeing and alpine and cross country skiing. Over 1,600 miles of groomed snowmobile trails cross the county, with direct access from Cross Lake. In the spring and summer some of the trails are available for hiking, biking and ATV use. Falls brings the spectacular changing colors of the leaves worthy of its own trip.
Regardless of the season, Cross Lake will delight anyone seeking peace, quiet and an authentic experience with nature. Days spent meandering through the trees, exploring by boat or fishing are sure to reenergize visitors. A lucky few may even see the moose that share the woods around Cross Lake.
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