OQUOSSOC – Five big, interconnected lakes; at least four historic trout rivers; and a boat launch at every turn.

Rangeley waterways are more than famous.

Go to the top of Bald Mountain in Oquossoc with that far-reaching, easy-to-get-to view and look out on the rivers and lakes in every direction, and it becomes clear: This land is a pristine water world.

No wonder there are public put-ins all along the town of Rangeley and its villages to the west in Oquossoc and Haines Landing.

Driving through Rangeley, there’s one boat launch at the town park, then roughly 10 minutes up the road on Route 4 there’s another near River’s Edge Sports marina in Oquossoc. And when you bang a right onto Route 16 toward Cupsuptic Lake, another boat launch sneaks up on the right. This is the one we picked to put in at the Cupsuptic River.

Here, the pristine river was quiet and seemingly undisturbed, with a few mallards floating near the dock. Despite a few camps close by, it was blessed with that remote Maine feel like so much of the region.

The pine-tree shoreline, big-sky clouds and little else surrounds the stark quiet here on a weekday in May.

And while the Cupsuptic is the top paddle trip recommended by the local Chamber of Commerce, it’s not even the one local guides sell first. They prefer to ferry customers down the Kennebago River, which is famous for views of wildlife, as well as wild brook trout.

“The Kennebago is just nice,” said Paul Noyes at Lakeside Convenience and Marina. “It’s a twisty, slow and meandering river. And usually you can see moose right along shore.”

Each summer, locals hope more Mainers and out-of-state tourists discover Rangeley’s unending paddle opportunities.

“Rangeley is one of those places in the Northeast where recreation has always involved use of the land,” said Bill Pierce, development director at the Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust. “It all started with the big brook trout in the 1800s. But Maine has always been Vacationland, and the interior of the state has always felt the second cousin to the lobster boats and L.L. Bean and lighthouses.”

Still, if you’re drawn to big lakes, small rivers and waterfalls, this is the place.

Rangeley is less than three hours from Portland and two from Augusta, but never gets as busy as the Sebago Lakes region or the Belgrade Lakes. Certainly, it’s farther away, but with so much water mixed in with so much undeveloped land, the paddle trips here promise solitary journeys.

“There is a huge tapestry of conservation land here,” said Pierce. “When you look at the Stephen Phillips (Memorial Trust) preserve land, the state land, the Rangeley Lakes (Heritage Trust) lands, it’s sort of breathtaking. And you get a better sense of nature itself. It truly is restful and restorative, and rejuvenates you.”

Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at:

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