September’s popularity grows at State Park

People cool off in the water at Sebago State Park’s day use area recently. The busiest times for Day Use were: July 14 when 4,056 people hit the beach and Aug. 24 when 3,202 people spent time at the site. (De Busk Photo)

People cool off in the water at Sebago State Park’s day use area recently. The busiest times for Day Use were: July 14 when 4,056 people hit the beach and Aug. 24 when 3,202 people spent time at the site. (De Busk Photo)

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — It’s September. It’s time to pitch the tent or fuel up the RV and head to Sebago Lake State Campground.

Over the years, September has become a more popular time to camp than it has been in the past, according to Park Director Matt McGuire.

“Each year, September is busier,” he said.

“It will definitely quiet down after Labor Day. But, we get campers who are retired and people who have extended their vacations in Maine staying at the campground,” McGuire said.

This Labor Day weekend’s weather caused campers to head home a little earlier than planned.

On that three-day holiday in early September, many campers stake claim to their sites on Friday night and stay through the weekend, often remaining at the state park and not heading home until Sunday evening or early Monday morning, McGuire said.

“That was down. Because of the rain, people left a day early. Generally, people have a reservation, and leave late on Sunday. We had the rainstorm Saturday night. It really lowered our numbers,” McGuire said.

“A lot of people left early Sunday morning,” he said.

On Labor Day, 96 boats were launched from the day area as people spent the holiday on Big Sebago Lake and its connective bodies of water.

For the three-day period, Saturday through Monday, on Labor Day weekend, 2,472 people visited the day use area and 3,411 people camped in the park.

That compared to the three-day timeframe on Memorial Day weekend when day use saw 1,111 visitors and the camping spaces accommodated 1,248 people.

“That was at half capacity. That was a slower weekend for us,” McGuire said.

“It seemed like Memorial Day was down from previous years,” he said.

“I think we are finding that people are doing other activities during that holiday. Kids are still in school,” he said.

The numbers of folks enjoying Sebago Lake State Park pick up in late June and early July. The campground boasts 250 camp sites; and in addition, there are 14 group camping spots on the east end of the park.

“We always have use, but when school is out, that is when we are the busiest,” he said.

So, the summer months of July and August really draw the crowds to the 1,400-acre park, located on Maine’s second largest lake.

From after Independence Day through late August, before school restarts, is traditionally the most favorable time to camp and swim at the beach or launch a boat from the lagoon that connects to Songo River. That continues to be the norm.

For the month of July, the busiest day for camping was July 4 with 1,374 people staying the night. Meanwhile, July 14 was when the most people, 4,056, recreated at the day use area.

For the following month, the camping population peaked on Aug. 17 with 1,300 claiming overnight spots. Then, 3,202 people packed into the day use area on Aug. 24 — the day before local schools were back in session.

“August was nice. But, July is always our busiest month,” McGuire said.

“July was busy. People were excited to be out boating and swimming,” he said.

In addition to a lake with water temperatures in the upper 70s and sandy beaches, the state park offers some educational and public events.

“We have people who come in and do interpretive programs. We are trying to bring more of those into the campground experience for people,” he said.

By mid-month, the Naples Beach will close to the public, but Witch’s Cove and the Amphitheater sites remain open through Oct. 15.

So, there are still opportunities to sleep under the stars near Sebago Lake. The campground does not officially close until Oct. 15.

Also, Sebago State Park will participate in the Great Maine Outdoors Weekend on Sept. 28, according to McGuire.

“We are going to offer two different programs that day at the park. Probably one will be a walk along the Songo River,” he said.

“Another one will be along our bog in the camping area. There is an active beaver lodge, nice fall foliage, and deer,” he said, adding that a black bear has been sighted as well.

For more information, contact the park headquarters, 693-6231.

 

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