Park Rangers on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW) are reporting hazardous ice conditions on the Allagash headwater lakes. Rangers advise ice fishermen and snowmobilers to use extreme caution when heading out to fish this weekend.

AWW Superintendent Matthew LaRoche warned that Eagle Lake appeared to be especially dangerous, with only about two or three inches of ice across the lake. When rangers were out checking the ice on Eagle Lake last weekend they found two layers of ice separated by a layer of water. The top layer of ice was white ice that was not strong enough to support a snowmobile. There is open water in all thoroughfares that connect the lakes.

“Three inches of ice isn’t very much, and that thickness may vary from location to location,” LaRoche said. He urged those heading out on the ice to play it safe and check the ice in the area in which they are traveling before venturing out onto the ice.

The AWW superintendent warned all visitors to stay away from thoroughfares and avoid tributary streams when traveling on the ice.

AWW rangers went out on Sunday and measured the ice on the Allagash headwater lakes, LaRoche said. The following ice thickness was reported:

  • Telos/Round Pond:  two to five inches, with slush and open water.
  • Chamberlain:  three to eight inches depending on location. There is only 2-3 inches on the north end of the lake with slush and open water.
  • Eagle:  two to three inches, with slush and open water.
  • Churchill:  five inches, with some open water and slush.

“We are expecting a couple hundred people to be out ice fishing on the first weekend of the season,” LaRoche said, referring to the upcoming ice fishing season which starts Tuesday, Jan. 1. “The native brook trout fishing is usually excellent when the season first opens.”

For specific advice on ice conditions and areas to avoid, visitors should check with the AWW ranger at Chamberlain Bridge or call the dispatch center in Ashland between 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 207-435-7963, ext.1

The AWW provides:  winter campgrounds at the Chamberlain Bridge and Kellogg Brook, public drinking water, vault toilets and snow plowing. A groomed snowmobile trail is marked from the Chamberlain Bridge parking lot to the south end of Chamberlain Lake and to Round Pond/Telos lakes.

The AWW is a 92-mile-long ribbon of lakes, ponds, streams, and river that wind through the heart of northern Maine’s vast commercial forest. The waterway became the first state-administered river to be designated by the United States Department of Interior as a component of the federal Wild and Scenic River Program. This designation was the culmination of an effort began in the early 1960s, to protect the outstanding natural character, unique recreational opportunities, and historical significance of the Allagash River and its associated lakes and ponds.

For more information about the AWW or Maine state parks, go to: www.maine.gov/doc/parks/

Image courtesy Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry

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