Finding a bull moose this majestic requires research, time and patience. But professional photographer Gerald Monteux and other wildlife experts helped us out and shared several wildlife viewing hot spots in Maine worth trying. Photo by Gerald Monteux

Wildlife photographers don’t easily give up their secret hot spots for locating moose, eagle, deer or osprey. In order to find more productive places, photographer Gerry Monteux often barters.

“I do a lot of trade-offs. In exchange for the location of, say, a fox den, I might tell someone where to get a moose. I think there are very few photographers who try to do it all on their own,” said Monteux, who lives in Hancock.

For you, good readers, we made it easy. We asked guides, biologists and professional photographers like Monteux about hot spots for viewing wildlife that are commonly known among locals but may be overlooked by the general public.

As you wander across the state this spring and summer, try these sure-shot spots – and remember to respect wildlife by giving it a wide berth.

This time of year, the Damariscotta Mills fish ladder is a sure bet to find osprey fishing for alewife, like this one grabbing a fish meal out of the Sebasticook River in Benton. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

DAMARISCOTTA Mills fish ladder: Every spring, wildlife photographers are chasing the alewife runs, because the eagles, ospreys and herons are chasing alewives. One of the best spots is the Damariscotta Mills fish ladder, built by the towns of Newcastle and Nobleboro 200 years ago. As the alewives congregate at the bottom of the fish ladder waiting to run up the Damariscotta River to spawn, bald eagles and ospreys often fight for the same fish, Monteux said. The elaborately built stone ladder is also the site of an alewife festival held by the nonprofit that maintains the ladder. There’s no festival this year, but a road run and concert are planned. Check the nonprofit’s website for details.

Directions: Drive north on Route 1 to Damariscotta and take a left on Route 215. Follow it up along the Damariscotta River to the fish ladder, on the left, just past Austin Road.


KATAHDIN REGION, Golden Road: Looking for wildlife along the Golden Road is a Maine tradition that goes way back, because it’s a great place to spy moose, Canada lynx, otter and grouse. Just be sure to yield to the logging trucks that travel the nearly 100-mile dirt road in the working forestland here. Stephen Bailey, who guides backcountry trips in the region, recommends the spot along the Golden Road just past Baxter State Park around Mile 14. There, a trail loop beside Compass and River ponds offers a nearly 5-mile hike and winds past the West Branch of the Penobscot River. “You’re also likely to see eagles. And there’s almost always a moose,” Bailey said.

Directions: From Route 11 in downtown Millinocket, take the Golden Road roughly 14 miles out. A dirt road on the left leads to the trail just before the Golden Road cuts between Compass Pond on the right and River Pond on the left.

MANCHESTER, Jamie’s Pond: Just a few miles from downtown Augusta lies the 840-acre Jamie’s Pond Wildlife Management Area in the towns of Manchester, Hallowell and Farmingdale. Unlike most of the state’s wildlife areas, this one has a well-developed trail system that runs near the pond and through the woods. Hit it early in the morning or in the evening – always the best time to see wildlife on the move. It’s a great place to find deer, beaver and even moose, said Keel Kemper, a regional wildlife biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife.

Directions: At Exit 109A of I-95 in Augusta, take Route 202 toward Manchester to Pond Road on the left; take Pond Road to Meadow Hill Road and turn left. The parking area is a short way down on the right. A trail map can be found on the Hallowell town website. 

Swan Island in the Kennebec River, shown above, almost guarantees views of white-tailed deer. But other good spots to find them include Jamie’s Pond in Manchester. Courtesy of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife

MILLINOCKET, Jerry Pond: The 66-acre pond is part of a recreation area with a picnic area, a playground, sandy beach and boat launch. It’s located behind Hannaford a short drive from I-95, but it’s also a shady spot that welcomes all manner of wildlife. Bailey, who owns a home nearby, frequently runs his dog or kayaks here and frequently sees otters, bald eagles and loons. And since this is Millinocket, there’s every chance you’ll find a moose strolling through. “Last year there was an otter family and the little baby was riding on top of momma’s belly. It’s a little slice of heaven,” Bailey said. Find out more on the town’s website.

Directions: Heading west on Route 157, take a right on Massachusetts Avenue, then turn right onto New Jersey Street. The entrance to the park is at the end of New Jersey Street.


PHIPPSBURG, Popham Beach: Most people go to Popham Beach State Park to enjoy the beach and the waves. Laura Minich Zitske, who directs the piping plover project that Maine Audubon runs for the state, recommends going directly to the left toward Fort Popham near the outlet of the Kennebec River. This is a choice place to enjoy views of ospreys, eagles, the endangered piping plovers, other shorebirds, and harbor seals. It’s another spot where the spring alewife run results in a flurry of feeding birds. “Last week I saw an osprey there catch a fish that looked about the size of the osprey,” said Zitske. To learn more, see the state’s website.

Directions: Take Route 209 south from Bath about 14 miles to Phippsburg and the state park.

Who doesn’t love seeing a harbor seal pup? Professional photographer Gerald Monteux enjoys finding them via his kayak in Taunton Bay near his home in Hancock. Another good spot is near Fort Popham at the mouth of the Kennebec River. Photo by Gerald Monteux

RICHMOND, Swan Island: The state-owned Wildlife Management Area in the Kennebec River used to be accessible via a ferry the state ran from the boat launch in Richmond. But since last summer, visitors are now required to ferry themselves via canoe or kayak. It’s a short paddle, roughly 5 minutes. On the plus side, there’s now no fee to visit the island. While hiking along the 7 miles of trails or the nearly 5 miles of dirt roads, you are likely to see deer, wild turkey and bald eagles. “If you want to see deer and bald eagle, Swan Island is your place,” Kemper said.

Directions: Take Exit 43 off I-295 and follow Route 193 into Richmond.

SOUTH THOMASTON, Weskeag Marsh: Known as one of the top birding spots in Maine, the 1,300-acre marsh is home to deer and small mammals, and is a regular hangout of peregrine falcons in the fall, said Kemper. From the parking lot, a path leads to a viewing platform that’s ideal for birding. Another trail leads farther into the forest that borders the marsh and is a good bet to see deer. In 2018, the Maine Coast Heritage Trust preserved 132 acres in the marsh. Considered by many the best coastal birding spot in Maine north of the Scarborough Marsh, Weskeag can offer views of greater and lesser yellowlegs, egrets and herons, and possibly even the Nelson’s sparrow or saltmarsh sparrow.

Directions: From Route 1 in Thomaston, turn onto Buttermilk Lane and go about a mile to the parking area. For a hiking map, see the trust’s website.

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