Exploring Flagstaff Lake by Kayak with a Rental from the Outpost Adventure Center

By Gabrielle Martin

July 6, 2021

For water-seeking Sugarloafers, kayak rentals are available from the Outpost Adventure Center; located in the heart of Sugarloaf Village, the Outpost is the hub of Sugarloaf's summer activity scene. Guest service specialist Sarah Holman greeted us with a warm welcome upon our arrival at the Outpost for our 9:00am kayak rental, and within minutes we putting pen-to-paper while signing our waivers with life jackets in-hand.

Water sport rentals include pads and straps for your vehicle; however, please note that you would do well to be prepared with a roof rack on your car. I did not have a roof rack, and so Sarah kindly borrowed Tom Butler, of Skier Service's, truck to bring our rentals to the public launch on Flagstaff Lake (approximately seven miles from Sugarloaf), a service they have previously provided for equally unequipped guests.  To their credit, they were not only accommodating but incredibly kind despite my rookie faux pas, serving as yet another example of the unbelievable generosity and hospitality–and not just Sugarloaf staffers, but Mainers in general. And I'm not just saying that as a relocatee from Boston, though I assume that is a contributing factor to my constant surprise at the friendliness of the townspeople and tourists in  the Valley. 

We went ahead as Sarah strapped our rentals to the roof of Tom's truck, taking a left as we approached the end of the Access Road, bound for Flagstaff Lake, an idyllic location used for boating, canoeing, camping, fishing (both in summer and winter seasons under general law), island exploring, paddleboarding, swimming, and, of course, kayaking!

Kayaking on scenic Flagstaff Lake

Did You Know? Flagstaff Lake, named for the flagstaff planted there by founder Benedict Arnold upon discovering the area while marching through the wilderness in search of Quebec, is the fourth largest in the state of Maine. It's also part of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, a historic 740-mile water-trail that winds through New York, Vermont, Quebec, New Hampshire, and Maine.

Something that amazed me was that Flagstaff Lake's scenic shoreline is, for the most part, undeveloped, offering locals and visitors alike an authentic and immersive nature experience in Western Maine's mountains; in addition, because Flagstaff Lake is relatively shallow (with a maximum depth of 50 feet), its waters are quite warm, especially compared to my upbringing in the frigid waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Fun Fact: Flagstaff Lake was once–er, is?–the site of Flagstaff Village, a town that was flooded to create the man-made lake. The residents of Flagstaff Village threw a two-day party for the 300 townspeople in July of 1949 to celebrate the community of their humble hamlet and to say a final farewell to the place that was their home for the past 100 years. After the area was flooded, many residents relocated to nearby Eustis or Stratton, where their descendants still live today.

The day we ventured out onto this watery alpine oasis, the waters of Flagstaff Lake were choppy and the color of slate; overhead, the skies were cloud-covered and ranging shades of gray. Temperatures were settled in the mid- to upper-fifties, paired with the occasional bouts of drizzle. In an attempt to stay warm, I was unironically rocking socks and sandals with a large Patagonia pullover, a sweatshirt I had to dig out of a bag of the winter clothes tucked away in my closet from ski season. Despite it not feeling especially seasonal to early July, it was still an enjoyable adventure to kayak across Flagstaff's warm waters and explore the area's lush shores–and, in warmer weather, you could take advantage of the assortment of sandy beaches or stop to explore several small, shore-adjacent islands.

Kayak rental from the Outpost Adventure Center on Flagstaff Lake

Getting out on the lake with the wind in your hair, exploring the area and appreciating the abundance of natural resources accessible within driving distance, only enforces why Maine's motto is "the way life should be." It was such a picturesque, peaceful experience that I'd suggest anybody visiting the area should do this during their stay.

Did I mention that the current made for an excellent arm work out? Kayaking exercises your abdomen and arms as well as your back, chest, hands, heart, and shoulders. In fact, spending just one hour kayaking would produce more work for these muscles than achieved in your standard single gym session. Your upper body will be treated to one heck of a workout after a few hours kayaking with the currents on Flagstaff. 

Pro Tip: If you're opting to swap leg day for this Sugarloaf hike, round out your adventure workout routine by planning a water sports rental for the next day. It's truly an act of self-care! 

Kayak rental from the Outpost Adventure Center on Flagstaff Lake

At the end of our kayaking journey, we left our rentals in a designated location, where Sarah would collect them at the end of the day. At this time, I'd like to take a moment to give a special shoutout to the incredible Outpost staff for making this experience easy and enjoyable.

For the food-oriented folks out there,who like to have an idea of where to eat after an activity (and hey, I hear ya), I suggest stopped by the Looney Moose Cafe on your way out of town. Located at 9 Main Street in the scenic town of Stratton, the Looney Moose was voted one of eleven Mom & Pop Restaurants In Maine That Serve The Best Food for a reason: if you're seeking an authentic small-town atmosphere with quality house-made fare, look no further! I especially recommend ordering the onion rings, which you will have earned after a morning (or afternoon!) of kayaking around Flagstaff Lake.


4 Hours

8 Hours

Stand-up Paddleboards



Single Kayak



Double Kayak




Yearning to get out on the water? You can book your kayak rental with the Outpost Adventure Center online here or by calling (207) 237-6875.