Savor world class fly fishing surrounded by the mystical beauty of Maine’s great North Woods at Chewonki’s Big Eddy Cabins and Campgrounds. This is the country Henry David Thoreau traveled and chronicled in the “The Maine Wood,” and it’s still luring natural lovers, adventurers and fishermen with its untamed beauty and bountiful outdoor activities.
Chewonki’s Big Eddy Cabins and Campgrounds are about four hours north of Portland, Me., a few miles west of Baxter State Park, in the heart of Maine’s spectacular North Woods. The campground is nestled on the shores of the Big Eddy, where the wild and roaring West Branch of the Penobscot River finally slows down after tearing through the Ripogenus Gorge. The pool the river creates is home to wild Atlantic landlocked salmon that have challenged and delighted fishermen for over 100 years. Today the Big Eddy is considered one of the top 100 fly fishing locations in the U.S.
The Big Eddy Cabins and Campgrounds
Owned by the non-profit educational Chewonki Foundation, the Big Eddy Cabins and Campground puts the focus on the forest and stays off the grid. It offers tent and pop-up sites as well as sites for trailers and RVs up to 28 feet – all without onsite water and electric hook ups. The campsite has facilities to fill water tanks and limited electricity for battery charging. To maintain the tranquil environment and preserve the wilderness experience, the campsite limits the use of small, personal generators to a few sites, for a few hours a day. There is no landline phone service.
The campground also offers three rustic camping cabins with outhouses, propane lights and outdoor cooking facilities that are perfect for families or fishing buddy trips.
Many of the sites are right on the river, offering views and access by day and the soothing sounds of the river by night. The campground also has unisex composting toilets, outlets for potable water, and a bath house.
The West Branch of the Penobscot River has been hooking fly fishing enthusiasts with its wild landlocked salmon and brook trout for generations. The season officially opens April 1, but doesn’t really pick up till the last ice melt in May, and it continues to the beginning of fall colors at the end of September. From rapids to the Big Eddy, the river offers a variety of conditions to keep experts engaged, but beginners can also enjoy the best the sport offers. Local fly fishing guides familiar with the powerful falls, pools, and fast water can arrange drift boat trips or scout out productive locations on foot.
Chewonki also offers full-day and half-day clinics by Maine Guides. Clinics are designed for newcomers to fly-fishing as well as experienced anglers who want to brush up or improve their skills.
Attractions in the Area
When the fish aren’t taking the bait and it’s time to take a break, visit nearby Baxter State Park. Explore over 209,000 acres of wilderness on more than 215 miles of trails. Picnic, paddle, bike, and even do more fishing inside the vast wilderness. For extreme fun, try technical rock climbing and white-water canoeing.
Schedule an expedition to summit Mt. Katahdin, Maine’s highest peak at 5,267 feet above sea level and the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. The peak is considered one of the top summits for beginners, offering a mix of technical challenges – including Knife Edge Trail with its thousand-foot drop off on either side — and breath-taking views.
Take a tamer hike to pick Maine blueberries, cool off in a favorite swimming hole, or, for more adventure, book a whitewater rafting, canoe or kayak trip.
For a taste of local history visit the Ambajejus Boom House that chronicles the area’s logging industry. The house is at the final collection point for lumber that was floated down the West Branch and for most of the year the museum is surrounded by water and only accessible by boat.
From the breathtaking drive to the campground on Golden Road, where you may see more moose and deer than other drivers, to the timeless beauty of the North Woods, to the challenge of world-class fly fishing, Chewonki’s Big Eddy Cabins and Campground are sure to reel you in year after year. The campground is open mid-May to mid-October, but takes reservations year around.