adventures
A pair of Songo River paddlers is passed by a powerboat.

Songo Song: Paddling Maine’s Songo River & The Spit

Text & Photography By Tom Richardson

Sebago Lake serves as the main source of drinking water for the residents of the Great Portland Area, and a lot of that water flows into the lake via the Songo River. The slow-flowing Songo also happens to be a terrific paddling destination suitable for beginners.

The Songo twists and turns for roughly three miles between Brandy Pond and Sebago Lake.

Most paddlers begin their Songo adventure at Sebago Lake State Park, at the northern end Sebago. The park features a big launch ramp and plenty of parking, although it does fill up on busy summer weekends. There is a fee to launch and park, so check the park website for an updated fee schedule.

A long sandbar known as The Spit can be found at the mouth of the Songo.

After launching, you can head over to the popular beach (actually a sand bar) known as The Spit. On the inland (river) side of the Spit are warm, shallow waters perfect for small children to splash around in. On the lake side, the water is cooler and choppier.

If you wish to get away from the crowds, head upstream through the serpentine Songo. After roughly two miles, you will arrive at the mouth of the Crooked River, the Songo’s main tributary and the principal spawning ground for Sebago’s wild run of landlocked salmon and a wonderful padding destination in its own right.

A pontoon boat passes through the hand-operated Songo Lock.

Just a few hundred feet farther upstream is the famous Songo Lock, a remnant of the Cumberland-Oxford Canal that made travel possible from Portland Harbor to Harrison starting in 1830. Today, the lock allows transit between Sebago and Brandy Pond. The massive wooden gates on either end of the cement-walled lock chamber are opened and closed via hand-operated crank system. The cost to pass through the lock is $15 per vessel, round-trip, so make sure to bring your wallet or purse!

A sign shows the lock's hours of operation.

Continue another mile upstream and you’ll arrive at Brandy Pond, where you can either continue north to Long Lake or turn around and head back to the ramp.

 

Songo Lock Info

  • $15 per boat round-trip passage. 
  • Boats requiring both gates open must make special arrangements ahead of time by calling Sebago Lake State Park (207) 693-6231.
  • Operational Dates & Hours:
    • May 1 – June 14: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
    • June 15 – Labor Day: 8:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
    • Day after Labor Day – October 15: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.