The first thing to know about Long Lake Maine in St. Agatha is that you’re probably saying the town’s name wrong. The second thing to know is that this Long Lake is nowhere near the identically named lake near Naples Maine that inspired the Stephen King novella “The Mist.”
St. Agatha (sain-a-GAHT) is the anchor city on the northwest side of Long Lake, which is the largest and deepest of the Fish River Chain of Lakes.
As a four-season destination, Long Lake is as famous for what happens on it as what happens beneath it. Winter brings visitors to several big events each year, like the ice fishing derby.
What’s particularly special about Long Lake in St Agatha Maine, though, isn’t just the surplus of specialized fish but also the people who work the waters and the land while preserving a culture that you can’t find anywhere else in America.
Details of Long Lake Maine in St. Agatha
Long Lake is the deepest of the Fish River Chain of Lakes with a maximum depth of 163 feet. It covers more than 5,000 acres and has almost 36 miles of shoreline.
Pelletier Island sits in the northern section of the lake, still part of St. Agatha. It’s accessible by a half-mile causeway and has a road surrounding the nearly 3-mile perimeter. In the center is the famous potato field that is harvested each year.
The landlocked salmon here is famous, but you’ll have some tough competition to get the biggest one. In February 2023, an angler caught a whopping 7-pound, 28-inch salmon.
“I’ve never caught a salmon that big, not even remotely close. Everybody was looking at the fish, yelling and screaming out the windows. It was a fun time.”Hunter Cote, angler
WATCH: A 26.9-pound muskie being pulled during the Long Lake Ice Fishing Derby in 2020
Lake trout, brown trout, lake trout, and carp are other fishy treasures waiting in the water.
Things to Do in Long Lake Maine of St. Agatha
You’ll find an outdoor adventure park in all seasons at Long Lake. It is bordered by several cities, including St. Agatha, St. David, Sinclair, and Cross Lake Township, so there are tons of things to do.
Ice Fishing Derby
The annual Long Lake Ice Fishing Derby is held the last weekend of January. Across nine lakes, anglers chip through the ice and set up shop to find the biggest and best fish available. Anglers will need a fishing license from the state of Maine to participate.
Of course, you can only ice fish when conditions are right. The lake is usually frozen over by January, and ice out occurs in late April or early May.
As soon as “Ice Out” is declared, the salmon fishing season kicks off. The fish are plentiful until mid-June but slow down after that as the water warms.
There are two public boat ramps in St. Agatha to access the lake. The best option is behind the Town Office at the marina, which was renovated in 2018. Less than 1.5 miles from the heart of St. Agatha is a public picnic area on the water. There’s a boat launch here too.
Birch Point Beach
Head to the east side of the lake in St. David to visit Birch Point Beach, which has easy access to the water, a grassy area, and a playground. It’s not a well-known spot for visitors, but the address is 641 Main Street.
Van Buren Cove
At the far southern end of Long Lake Maine, there’s the remote Van Buren Cove. You can only access it by water or with a rugged vehicle because it’s set back behind miles of logging road. The secluded payoff is worth the effort, especially when the fall foliage is bright.
The Red Arrow Snowmobile Club has more than 80 miles of trails throughout the St. John’s Valley and is connected with the much larger Maine Snowmobile Association trail system. Snowmobile and sled rentals are available at Mike’s & Sons in Fort Kent.
Long Lake Overlook
From the northern end of the lake on Cleveland Road, take a half-mile walk or drive up Guerrete Road to reach the parking area of the Long Lake overlook. There’s a picnic area and a perfectly placed bend to soak in the amazing views.
St. John Valley & Fish River National Scenic Byway
St. Agatha is a great place to explore the St. John Valley & Fish River National Scenic Byway, also known as the Parcours culturel de la Vallee. Once you reach Frenchville, you can go east or west to explore the 129 miles.
More Things to Do Near Long Lake Maine in St. Agatha
If you decide to take the Fish River National Scenic Byway, you have a chance to explore Acadian culture throughout the region.
This historical home in St. Agatha is rare for Acadian attractions in that it hasn’t changed locations since the 1850s. As the house changed hands over the generations, it was turned into a historical society in 1978. The artifacts inside range from agricultural tools to religious documents.
15 miles from St. Agatha
The Acadian Landing marks the very entrance point that brought Acadians seeking refuge to Maine. The cross was erected to bless their new home. The Tante Blanche Museum complex is home to three buildings, one of which showcases home goods and textiles from centuries ago.
15 miles from St. Agatha
The massive collection of the Acadian Archives is located at the University of Maine in Fort Kent. It has documents and media files of Acadian culture in the region. You can even look up your surname or relatives to see if you might be Acadian!
15 miles from St. Agatha
Look for the archangels with trumpets atop twin Baroque towers, and you’ll be at a historic church built in 1909. The museum is in an ongoing state of preservation and renovation. Inside, the domed ceiling is reminiscent of the stars in the sky and is supported by Corinthian columns.
To fully immerse in Acadian culture, plan a visit during the Madawaska Acadian Festival, which doubles as a family reunion for local Acadians.
25 miles from St. Agatha
The Acadian culture is preserved in this collection of 17 buildings, which are on the National Register of Historic Places. You’ll be immersed in the Acadian way of life and see how they found a new home using the natural resources of the St. John’s Valley.
TRAVEL TIP: There is another Acadian Village in Lafayette Louisiana, so don’t get your research confused with this location.
Things to Know When Visiting Long Lake Maine
There are a few things you should know before visiting Long Lake in St Agatha Maine so that you can be prepared.
World Record Ice Carousel
Long Lake (once again) holds the world record for the largest ice carousel in the world. The Northern Maine Ice Busters are quite competitive about this and will carve a giant circle in Long Lake. They then have to make it spin one full rotation to claim victory.
Many people here hold dual citizenship and will cross the border to get a cup of coffee. To make sure you have the right documents to visit, check with the Canada Border Services Agency.
While many people here will be French-speaking, they also know English. In fact, your traditional French might not get you too far. As one expert explained, it would be like an American in Boston speaking in Ye Olde English. Most signs and brochures will be in French and English.
Aroostook County gets an average of 8 feet of snow a year. There are paved roads to get here, but watch out for logging roads because they can be brutal year-round, especially in winter and spring. Use New England 511 to track road conditions before you make the trek.
Restaurants Near Long Lake Maine in St. Agatha
You don’t have many options around Long Lake for dining, but the most popular spots have huge portions and expansive menus.
It lives up to its name and reputation with fantastic views of Long Lake with an extensive menu, including “Dick’s Famous Prime Rib” and poutine (French fries covered in cheese and gravy). This is a four-season feast with plenty of closet space for winter gear and a patio open when the weather cooperates.
On the east side of the lake in St. David, Long Lake Bar & Grill has a more sophisticated menu than you might expect. The restaurant is near the golf course and has a great happy hour. Check out the revolving specials and look for themed nights.
Roy’s Variety looks like a one-pump gas station with not much inside, but wait until you see the hot-and-ready items for a much-needed break. With the included grocery store, you can stock up on campsite or vacation home necessities too.
Check Roy’s Facebook page for specials, and make a special note of the Buffet Warmer Table specials. You pay by the pound, and these sell out fast.
The 10-mile drive from St. Agatha to Dolly’s in Frenchville is well worth it — even by snowmobile — to get some of the best Franco-American food on this side of the Canadian border. Ok, bad reference.
Dolly’s is less than 1,000 feet from the Canadian border. You’ll get to eat like a French Canadian without needing a passport — with poutine, ployes, and cretons on the menu.
If you’re in St. Agatha and you smell barbecue, follow your nose to GG’s Market. This team is dedicated to working alternating overnight shifts to ensure that the meat is cooked perfectly.
You can call ahead to reserve your portion of meat in case they sell out. More food options include tacos and dessert favorites, like Ice Box Cake.
Lodging Near Long Lake Maine in St. Agatha
You won’t find many hotels here, and big resorts aren’t really St. Agatha’s style. What you will find is plenty of lakefront homes.
Two decks make this home a perfect place to watch the sunrise or soak in the afternoon rays. The two-bedroom home sleeps six and has lake access just steps away. The spacious house and yard are also close to hiking and snowmobile trails.
This home sits on Pelletier Island facing the sunrise and has frequent visits from birds overhead. The three-bedroom, one-bathroom home includes bunk beds, a full kitchen, and an outdoor fire pit. Air conditioning and a laundry room come with all overnight stays.
Stay at the south end of Long Lake Maine near the beautiful Van Buren Cove, which is normally reserved only for residents. The home sleeps six with three bedrooms and one bathroom.
Outside, there’s a dock with a canoe and kayak for exploring the lake. The sunset views can’t be beaten from the backyard, deck, or dock.
This rustic lodge is on the Interconnected Trail System with Martin’s General Store across the street. Inside are three large suites available to rent, and all the recreational equipment you could want in any season is available on-site for rent. It’s a one-stop lodge for all your Northern Maine needs.
Soak in sensational views of the sunrise, sunset, and night skies at this remote cabin just 5 miles from St. Agatha’s lakefront but surrounded by trails. Don’t let the one-bedroom size fool you — this home sleeps up to five people. You’ll see why this is called God’s Country with the views from this home.
A popular stop for those on fishing trips, the Long Lake Motor Lodge has lake views and a lounge with continental breakfast served each morning. Each room has a kitchenette, and whirlpool tubs are available in some units. It’s a discount hotel, but no details are skipped for an excellent experience.
More to Know About Long Lake Maine
Long Lake is in Aroostook County, otherwise known as “The County” to the people of Northern Maine. If you look at a map of all the counties in Maine, you’ll see Aroostook sitting on top, its shape earning it the nickname The Crown of Maine.
At the very top of that “crown” is an area called the St. John River Valley, named for the St. John River that cradles this part of the county and forms the international boundary to Canada. While this is a very northern Maine lake, it’s not considered part of the North Maine Woods, which starts 20 miles to the west.
Long Lake Maine is the northernmost in the Fish River Chain of Lakes. Route 162 lines the western boundary, ending at Frenchville to the north. There it meets U.S. Route 1, which is a famous highway that runs from Fort Kent Maine to Key West Florida. Long Lake is just 16 miles from Fort Kent.
History of Long Lake
Prior to European settlement, the area around Long Lake belonged to Native American tribes, primarily the Maliseet and Micmac people. The lake and wildlife proved excellent hunting and fishing grounds.
A land known as Acadia was home to French colonist descendants in the 17th and 18th centuries. The former Acadia is what we now know as Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island.
During the French & Indian War, Acadians were expected to pivot allegiance to the British crown. When they refused, the British started The Great Expulsion, a term we might call ethnic cleansing today.
Acadian Culture Comes to Maine
The Acadians scattered, and some were forcibly deported. One group of Acadians went to Spanish-controlled Louisiana, which evolved into the Cajun culture we enjoy today.
“Yes, we’re cousins to the Cajuns in Louisiana, but we’re still a different people because we’ve been separated by 200 years.”J. Donald Cyr, Acadian culture Expert
Other Acadians settled in Northern Maine, seeking refuge and forming a complex collaboration with the Indigenous People. The fertile land and pastoral surroundings made the Acadians feel closer to their homeland.
It might’ve been the lake that drew people here, but it was the soil that kept them. The first settler came from Canada and set up a homestead on Long Lake in 1847.
Within a few years, dozens of families were on the shores and harvesting the land collaboratively, a hallmark of Acadian culture. In 1899, St. Agatha was incorporated.
Maine’s Acadian Culture in the 20th Century
The Acadian settlers in Northern Maine formed tight-knit communities that preserved their language, customs, and cultural traditions.
French was the first language of most people, an issue that drew ire from those who only wanted English used. The 1919 English Education Bill banned anything but English in schools, seemingly targeting the tight-knit Franco-American culture.
While the law was overturned in 1960, the small communities of St. John’s River Valley still hold onto tradition. But, there’s a genuine concern that Acadian culture is fading.
That’s why we feel it’s important to celebrate and explore this culture during a trip to Long Lake Maine — so that it can live on for generations to come.
We can learn a lot from the Acadian way of life. Considering that the Acadians arrived to land split between two separate countries, where Indigenous People called home, they embraced each other and blended the way of life to create a community spirit that still thrives today.
FAQs About Long Lake Maine in St. Agatha
How do I get to Pelletier Island in Long Lake?
There’s a causeway that’s about 6/10 of a mile long. It’s not elevated, and there are no barriers between the road and the causeway. New causeway lighting was installed recently, so you’ll be able to see the road at night.
Just be careful after a lot of rain or snow melt because the road can become flooded.
Is Long Lake Maine near the Allagash Wilderness Waterway?
You’ll need to drive 45 miles from Long Lake Maine to get to Allagash and the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, which flows down to Telos Lake — 131 miles from St. Agatha.
Can you rent an ice shack for Long Lake Maine?
Absolutely! In fact, the lake looks a lot like a shanty town in the winter with so many ice shacks out there. Morin Boys Ice Shack Rentals is one vendor that provides various options that can sleep up to four people.
Enjoy the Cultural Gem of Long Lake Maine
Long Lake in St Agatha Maine is a treasured fishing spot surrounded by a cultural gem in the Crown of Maine. This is a great place to escape the Maine crowds while experiencing a deeper connection to a community. You have the great option to parlay the trip into an international visit as well.
“Bienvenue dans la Contreè Acadienne de la Rivière Saint-Jean!”
“Welcome to the Heart of St. John Valley”