Maine has over 6000 lakes and ponds and is one reason Vacationland is a very popular destination.

But what is the difference between a Maine lake, a pond? Well it is more than size. Because lots of farm ponds have been dug out where the soil is slow to drain and springs help them stay filled with natural water.

maine mountain ash winter ice
Mountain Ash Berries Wrapped In Ice On A Maine Lake.

During the late 1960’s, 1970’s the US Soil Conservation Service helped with a 75/25% cost share with the property owner coughing up the small portion of the funding. These ponds range in size, were stocked with fish and also considered a water source for a rural country fire. During times of farming drought dryness, these ponds were tapped for moisture to help thirsty Maine crops.

A pond has an inlet, no outlet and can be spring fed like a Maine lake.

Pond are usually considered more shallow and sunlight is able to penetrate to allow vegetation to grow where lakes are often deeper and darker the further toward the bottom you go. A pond could conceivably have vegetation across the top. We have all seen the lily pads, the yellow flowers and heard the croaking frogs next to a pond.

Can you have a private lake and hog it all to yourself or just for personal family use? And what about public landings, how do those work? Here is more on open land approach to using private land for public use which is a huge component of Maine tourism. Here is extra information on park rules and public land use.

I had a Maine farm listing for sale that surrounded a nine acre lake. The owner had a nine year old daughter fighting a battle with cancer who they wanted to change the name the Gazateer Atlas and other maps had already names for a previous land owner. And to change the name to the name of their dying daughter ended up becoming a legislative fight. The news brought attention to just how big a lake has to be to no longer be termed a private one.

A great pond in Maine is considered larger than ten acres.

And I had been told any Maine lake over twenty acres has to have a public landing access for use. Now finding out where exactly that public access can be tricky. Especially if the camp owners that border the so call access strip just raise havoc and don’t want the public traipsing in and out to enjoy their waterfront resource investment.
But back to what is the difference between a Maine lake, a pond.

Baxter State Park
No Areas Prettier Than Baxter State Park! Hike, Climb Mt Katahdin, Other Peaks.

There are other distinctions that make each a horse of a different color. (Cue the song “one of these things is not like the other”. One of these things just doesn’t belong.) A Maine pond, how big does it have to be to graduate to a lake status? Some waterfront definitions say a pond has to be 5 acres or larger to be dubbed a lake. Other experts say over 8 acres, at least twenty acres.

But even when a Maine lake is called a lake.

The quality differs greatly and size does matter. A 20 acre lake is pretty challenging to water ski, to enjoy a power boat. It gets a little boring circling round and round. And if the lake is only a few feet deep, with a frog bottom muddy footing, swimming in warm water with the goop between your feet is not pleasurable.

Gravel bottom, going out gradually is preferred when folks look for a lake front property and without lots of just below hidden rocks to rip off your motor’s lower unit if you decide to take a spin. A big steep incline to slide down a hillside to get to the waterfront is not a popular attraction for most folks, even the most athletic in the audience.

maine lake loons
Maine Lake Loons, Many Other Birds Too On The Waterfront!

As we all get older or when elder members of our family visit a lake or pond setting in Maine, everyone worries about how to get the going shore party back to camp. A reverse zip line, a winch with a motor to haul the camper back up the hill sounds like someone could get hurt as they get dragged brutally across the hilly terrain landscape.

A large lake can cause the northwest winds to pick up speed and cause more than a comfortable breeze to keep your property bug free. Black flies would have to be on steroids to handle the jet stream to tap in to a fresh camper vein of O2 positive or AB negative.

A small sheltered Maine pond is not so wild and safer when a storm picks up just because getting to shore is an easier, shorter task. The waves are not white caps. Landing a private float plane on a dinky pond could test your aviation skills or end up making you front page and again mentioned in the obituary of the same Maine newspaper in the venue where the fatal accident takes place.

Maine Lake Herons.
Herons On Maine Lakes. They Show Up To Entertain The Happy Campers.

View if any or of what. The power lines or wind generators sharing the big screen of the waterfront setting in your lap are not what more lake or pond real estate buyers are seeking. The red light that blinks on the giant wind beater turbines to warn aircraft getting too close that they are ahead shines across the water like an eerie tentacle. Making the giant structures closer than they really are and a reminder of what new man make device is in the scenic view of what was just Mt Katahdin, a mountain or foot hill range view.

A lake without milfoil or pollution trumps one even larger in size that is a mess that has the pressure of man, over development, lack of education to protect the waterfront and a lack of self preservation obvious to all who visit the lagoon you call “Uptah Camp Ayuh”.

A lake in Maine I am on refreshes, or turns over every one year, one month.

As long as safe, well planned timber harvesting is done in the watershed of the lake or pond, and if area crop or critter farmers go easy does it on the nitrite, nitrates put on the fields with care to keep it from leaching into the natural resource, things can stay static. Or if you practice good stewardship where you pass on the lake or pond property in better shape than you received it, it means a waterfront investment could actually improve. The condition of a rickety dam at the outlet can be a concern and how strong is the lake or pond waterfront association if there is one? Same with the road association where most of the access trails and pathways are private, not much like a public transportation set up.

You don’t need to own a piece of Maine waterfront. You just need a kayak, canoe and to sample the buffet of them dotting the map around whichever part of Maine you are lucky to find yourself visiting on vacation or living in part or full time!

I’m Maine REALTOR Andrew Mooers, ME Broker

207.532.6573 | |

MOOERS REALTY 69 North ST Houlton ME 04730 USA