This Small, Underrated State Park On A Lake In Maine Is Perfect For A Family Day Trip

On a scenic road trip in Maine and looking for a lovely little park to stop and stretch your legs? Swan Lake State Park is an idyllic sanctuary 25 miles southwest of Bangor. The 67-acre park on the shores of peaceful Swan Lake is a perfect place to while away a summer day, with activities for the whole family to enjoy. Furry friends are welcome too, as long as they are leashed and kept away from the main beach.  

On hot days, swimming in the cool waters of Swan Lake is the main draw for visitors. Lifeguards are on duty at the park's main crescent-shaped beach, adding an extra layer of security for families with small children, and restrooms and changing rooms are conveniently located nearby. It's also possible to swim in the eastern part of the park, but these areas are not lifeguard supervised and reportedly have slippery rocks, so bring your water shoes. 

When it's time for lunch, head to a nice shaded picnic table under the tall trees with a beautiful lake view. If you need a heat source, grills are available throughout the park for public use. Larger groups can pay to use the group picnic area, which has accessible restrooms, along with volleyball and horseshoe areas for added entertainment. 

Swan Lake State Park activities

Besides swimming, Swan Lake offers many other water-based activities for active families. Fish such as brook trout, largemouth bass, pickerel, and white perch are abundant in the lake, making it an enticing spot for summer fishing (and winter ice-fishing) for those with a valid Maine fishing license. Anglers are welcome to use the boat launch in the park, but boats with outboard motors cannot exceed 10 horsepower. Forgot your boat at home? No worries. You can also rent canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards in the park for a small fee. If you've never been in a recreational kayak before, venturing out on a lake in one is a great way to explore the shoreline, take in lovely views from the water, and get a good workout all at the same time. 

Not all the things to do at Swan Lake State Park revolve around its lake. Visitors can stroll along footpaths that wind through the trees, and little ones who are tired of swimming can romp around in the shaded jungle gym area. Grassy areas in the park are also ideal for spreading out a blanket and reading a good book or just watching the clouds drift by. 

Getting to the park and exploring the surrounding area

From Memorial Day through Labor Day, visitors can pay a small entrance fee at the entry booth to access the park from 9 a.m. until sunset. People can use the park during the rest of the year too, but it's necessary to park outside the gate and deposit the entrance fee in a self-service container. Don't be afraid to visit the park in winter, especially after snowfall. Just remember to bring your snowshoes!

Getting to the park is easy, as it's located just off Route 141 in Swanville, a small town with around 1,380 full-time residents. While you're exploring the area, one recommended stop is the quaint town of Belfast, a 20-minute drive from Swan Lake, where you'll find the best darn fudge in all the land at Perry's Nut House. The store also sells other edible goodies as well as locally made gifts and souvenirs. 

If it's more nature that you're craving, rather than chocolate, Acadia National Park is a little over an hour's drive away. In this iconic park, you'll find some of Maine's most spectacular scenery. While you're there, don't miss the stunning but spine-tingling Precipice Trail, an experience that's not at all for the faint-hearted