On the Allagash Wilderness Waterway: High Bank Campsite
There is a campsite located on the northern shore of Telos Lake called High Bank. It is one the nicest sites on the entire Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW). It has a commanding view of the Katahdin range, a beautiful gravel beach that is protected from the prevailing northwest wind and plenty of level spots to pitch tents.
In general, Telos Lake doesn’t get as much use as other sections of the waterway, because most parties put their watercraft in at Chamberlain Bridge and head north on the Allagash canoe trip or go fishing for big togue and brook trout on Chamberlain Lake. Telos Lake is one of the hidden gems of the waterway. Even though Telos and Chamberlain do not have the same watercraft restrictions as the rest of the waterway- boats with unrestricted motor size are allowed on these lakes, Telos is really a quiet section of the AWW.
One of the nice things about High Bank Campsite is that you can be pulling your boat ashore in front of the campsite in about two hours of travel time from Millinocket. From Millinocket- just head up the Golden Road and take a right onto the Telos Road after Big Eddy Campsite on the West Branch of the Penobscot. It is 24- miles up the Telos Road to Chamberlain Bridge and the boat launch in the thoroughfare. The campsite is only about a mile from the boat launch.
I had a call this winter from an older gentleman who had gone to Eagle Lake when he was a young man and wanted to return with one of his buddies for a spring fishing trip. Eagle Lake is restricted to canoes only with or without motors and motors may not be over 10-horse power. They didn’t have the right watercraft for Eagle Lake or a vehicle with good clearance, the roads to access Eagle Lake at Indian Stream or Churchill Dam can be rough in the spring.
After we talked for a while I suggested that High Bank Campsite on Telos Lake might be a better fit for them. They had a 16-foot aluminum boat that was legal on that section of the waterway and it was good road all the way into the waterway from Millinocket. I also let him know that it was good togue fishing in the deep water in front of the campsite and that some nice brookies could be caught trolling along the shoreline of the lake. I also suggested that if they wanted to go stream fishing, it was only about four miles down the lake to Webster Stream. When we got off the phone he was excited about the prospect of a trip to the Allagash without the some of the restrictions and difficulties of a trip to other sections of the AWW.
I have a 1941 edition of “In the Maine Woods”, a publication of the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad. There is a story in the magazine titled, “Canoe Cruise De Luxe”, by Harold L. Nason. The story is of a 125-mile canoe trip from Northeast Carry on the West Branch of the Penobscot to Grindstone on the East Branch of the Penobscot. The 15-day excursion travels down the Upper West Branch, across the north end of Chesuncook Lake, over Mud Pond Carry, down Chamberlain and Telos Lakes, through Telos Cut, across Webster Lake, Webster Stream, Matagamon Lake and finally down the East Branch to Grindstone.
On this adventure the author writes about High Bank Campsite, “At Telos Lake we had one of the best campsites of the entire trip, taking out on a projecting point on the left shore. The ground here was high and level, with the underbrush cleared away by other campers and a cook crane already in place.”
It was a grand adventure that touted the physical and mental benefits of an extended canoe trip in the Maine Woods. I believe the benefits of a canoe trip through the Maine Woods are even more relevant today than they were 70 years ago!
Waterway Notes: The boarding house and storehouse at Churchill Depot were recently approved by the National Park Service for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.
Matthew LaRoche is superintendent of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. The waterway is managed by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Bureau of Parks and Lands. For information go to: www.maine.gov/allagash or call (207) 941-4014 for an information packet.