Hello again camping friends, today we are excited to bring you the Canal Bridge Campground, located in the town of Fryeburg in the great state of Maine. A state popular for the abundance of lobster, beautiful mountains, and home of Joshua L. Chamberlain; civil war hero, pastor, college professor, and Governor.
Yes, we dropped a name, Spencer has blood ties to Joshua Chamberlain and we felt it was an interesting point since our next stop is Gettysburg Pennsylvania, a place Spencer has been looking forward to visiting for many years. That said lets talk about the campground since that’s why we are really here. To start, this campground is owned, and run, by their respective town but unlike other “town run” campgrounds we have been to they seem to be a lot more lenient when it comes to certain things on the managerial level, and they actually seem to allow the campground manager to run the place with little to no interference. That said this isn’t a real big campground so this post will be relatively brief but we will still be as detailed as we can without getting boring.
Upon arrival we have to say, that we have never, ever, seen so many tent worm nests in our lives. It looked like Halloween, they are everywhere, multiple nests in just about every tree, you’re ducking under them, and sometimes squeezing around them in bushes, its incredible. They don’t, however, really bother anybody it’s just a shocking observation, well shocking to us. But, it’s not like they are falling on you, or your gear, or anything like that so we don’t think it’s that big of a deal. Most of the campground is beach sand mixed with some organics like dead leaves and grass. The campground is also nestled in a loop, a kind of peninsula, created by the Sacco river which eventually empties out into the Atlantic ocean.
You can tell the water levels get very high in the spring making the river wide, and deep, in some places. Later in the summer, when we were there, the river was still pretty good size but it was only deep in a few locations, typically on the bends where the water is flowing a bit harder. With that you can probably imagine the river is pretty slow flowing in the summer months so during this time it turns it into a massive natural lazy river. All day long, every day, you can hear people talking, having fun, laying on tubes, or rafts, and just floating for miles down stream. With all of this activity Spencer thought the fishing would be very poor, so he wasn’t really going to bother, but that could not have been farther from the truth. Standing in knee deep water, dodging tubes, kayaks, and the occasional floating bar, he would venture to these random deep spots and one after another pull relatively large fish out of the water. He didn’t keep any, he just wanted to see what it was like, and it was an experience he will not forget anytime soon. The fishing is just out of this world, even with all of the activity it’s pretty amazing.
The campsites themselves are medium size with little to no barriers, like trees or shrubs, in between. A few sites are pretty well hidden but the campground itself remains fairly peaceful due to the campground manager keeping a careful eye on his sites. Drinking here is not prohibited, but being obnoxious is and will get you escorted out very quickly. Most of the visitors here were from other states but roughly 11 cars, all from Rhode island, were asked to leave day one, of their week long reservation, due to their behavior. One guy drank too much and went wandering into the woods behind other peoples camp sites, he actually fell off a bank around midnight and Spencer rushed over to see if he was injured. Another got drunk and decided to serenade the nearby campers, until 4am, taking down bird houses, along with some other shenanigans going on, but the campground manager gave them a single warning, just 1, and the next morning it was like a convoy leaving.
The manager station, as usual, is perched right out at the front entrance but here the manager’s camper is also parked not far behind. This means he is there all day long, every day, so the campground speed limit is strictly enforced and you can feel safe letting your children run around exploring the campground, or riding their bike. Even outside visitors, who wander in from their float down the Sacco river, are quickly asked to depart to ensure the safety of the campground and its guests. What’s refreshing is that unlike some other town owned campgrounds, that we have been to, the campground manager seems to have the full support of the town council, overseeing the daily business of the grounds, which helps alleviate any frustration, and miscommunication, between the manager and the guests. Speaking of the manager, this guy works very hard to keep the peace, and to keep the grounds clean. Originally from Chicago he happened to answer a help wanted ad years ago for this campground and he has been here ever since. He treats the campground like it’s his home, he plants gardens, updates the sites, keeps the trespassers out, and the town allows him to rent tubes, and sell supplies, on the side in addition to the ice, and firewood, the campground itself sells. That said, he is also one of the most polite people you will ever meet, “Yes sir”, “yes Ma’am” and he has a great sense of humor along with an excellent work ethic so we were very impressed.
The campsites are all marked off by numbered bird houses in the trees, which we thought was a unique touch. We have been to a lot of campgrounds and for a lot of them, that have sites close together like this, they kind of lose the feel of being in the wild. Not here, with these bird houses on every site nature is reintroduced back into the camping element, and with the abundance of tent worms there is plenty for them to eat. The only downfall to this campground is that it has but one bath house with a single shower stall in each bathroom. We recommend bringing a bicycle if you are staying on one of the outer sites but it really isn’t that far if you intend to just walk. At night the shower/bathrooms gather a line outside of the door but we are sure some of this, at least, has to do with the pandemic and people trying to social distance. Outside of the bathroom there is a utility sink, if you need to do your dishes, but the immediate area has plenty of water faucets so we didn’t see it get a lot of use. These faucets, however, are all in close proximity to the bath house so they are a bit inconvenient if you are on one of the outskirt sites.
Speaking of walking, the grounds do have a hiking trail but it’s little more than a path on the parameter of the campground so it’s a bit lame. For most campers, though, the river is the main feature here and being on it makes you think of little else. Its laid-back, slow moving, current and beautiful scenery make it the place to be on those hot summer days when you just want to relax and stay cool. Near the bath house there is also a long rope, with a white curtain hanging from it. Now, we don’t know if this was a camper, or if it was the manager, but at night they were showing movies on this curtain which we think is fabulous. While we were there the children, meaning Spencer and Jadyn, were treated to Disney’s Moana and they watched while waiting for Kimberly to get out of the shower. It was a lot like being at a drive in movie, other campers had popcorn, or some treat, as they sat on a log, or a lawn chair, watching the movie. The great thing was that we were not kept up by generators, or traffic, all hours of the night it was just a pleasant experience and everyone had a lot of good, quiet, old fashioned fun the entire time…. well once the convoy left.
Now, lets get to the individual sites but before we do we need to point out an issue regarding the link above. This link leads to the Reserve America interactive map which is nothing new but we bring it up because the page the map is found on is a bit misleading, and a good reason why we write these articles.
To start, the Reserve America page is titled “Canal Bridge Campground, Maine – Campsites, Cabins & Lodging“, at least it was at the time of this article. There are no cabins or any type of lodging here, not that we saw. These are basic tent, and RV, sites with no hookups so we wanted to point that out right off the bat. This list was also difficult to put together since some of the sites are mapped on the wrong side of the road, or are backwards, which is a bit frustrating to us especially as we are trying to put these together for you.
Anyway, looking at the map, you can see that the campground is relatively small , that much is accurate, however we think the map stretches the campsites out a bit further than they actually are. Try and avoid sites 11 – 16, 19, 22, and 35. All of these sites, except for 22, are in the same general area as the bath house, and dumping station, so we don’t feel like its an ideal spot to be. This area will get the most traffic, will have the most amount of late night noise from people trying to shower and use the restrooms, and although we didn’t notice a smell while we were there, we are sure that changes whenever that dumping station is being accessed. Site 22 is not listed and sits on the corner where site 23 is mapped so you have traffic on two sides of you with a campsite just behind so we feel this isn’t a good spot either.
Starting at the beginning of the map, sites 1 and 2 are pretty decent since they are perched up on a hill surrounded by trees. When we were here, however, the designated parking area was set up with a fire ring and a picnic table so we had initially thought it was another campsite. This spot had no bird house marking it as a campsite so we speculate it could have just been an overflow space since the campground was pretty full. One thing is obvious, though, and that is you do not want this spot that we are going to dub site 1A. We believe it would make for a bad time if you constantly had foot traffic from sites 1 and 2, on the hill just behind, and you had to share your site with everyone else’s vehicles.
We would also recommend staying away from sites 3 and 4, at least in the Spring, since this is a low point on the property and is subject to squishy, swampy, ground. Not that it couldn’t be a great spot if you got both sites, and it remained dry, but it’s a risky campsite to have. In the picture you can see that the back portion of these two sites is roped off. Just beyond that rope is a marsh and although it appears dry on the site itself there were indications of mud being an issue in recent history. Other than that there is nobody behind you, brush all around, and the sites occupy the same space so if you got both of these sites, and it remained dry, then yes these could be great spots to have.
We would recommend staying away from site 5 for a few reasons. Firstly, where this site is listed on the map is actually where the “hiking trail” exists. The campsite itself is located much closer to the main road, on a hill, just on the other side of site 2. The people who occupied this spot didn’t spend a whole lot of time on the grounds itself but they had foot traffic on all 4 sides of their site. Between the hiking trail behind them, the beach access on one side, campsite 2 on the other side, and the main road directly in front there was absolutely no privacy here. You are also perched up on a hill where everyone can see everything you do, and everything you have, with no barriers so we don’t think this is an ideal location. Just on the other side of that beach access you’re going to have sites 6 and 7. These two are going to follow the same complaint minus the hill and this theme pretty much follows the rest of the sites on this strip up to about site 16 where they start to spread out. These sites are mostly sand, they have no brush, and they feel very close together since its all open space. To top it off the closer to the bathrooms, and showers, you get the more noisier it gets, for obvious reasons, so we didn’t like the majority of these sites.
Our next cluster has some issues, firstly Site 22 isn’t even listed on the map and sits where site 23 is mapped. In turn site 23 is 24 on the map, and Site 24 is Site 26 on the map so please keep that in mind when making your reservation. Site 22 sits on the corner so it has vehicle traffic on two sides, plus site 30A beyond a thick layer of brush in the back, so we would not recommend that spot. If you are looking for the most privacy then site 30a is the way to go. This site is much closer to site 22, where site 23 is mapped, but this is probably going to be your best bet in terms of hiding out. This site is surrounded by a thick layer of brush and is almost like a little path carved into the forest but the major downfall is there is no direct access to the river unless you go all the way back to the beginning of the campground. That said, site 22 doesn’t look like it will ever have anyone on it since it is not even listed on the reservation map, at the time of this article, so site 30A going to be a nice little spot to relax if you choose it.
Sites 23, 24 and 26 are all relatively the same, they are a lot more private, the thick brush adds quite a bit of privacy, but you are now reaching the farthest parts from any river, or facility, access unless you go through another campsite, which we find to be rude unless there is nobody camping there. These sites are, again, mostly sand, and are covered in pine needles so you may want to bring a little hand broom with you to help keep your tent clean.
We think sites 16 through 20 will be your best bet in this campground. They have direct river access, they are far enough away from the bathrooms that it really doesn’t bother you, and although this strip is basically a big field with trees, it’s relatively flat, and if everyone positions their vehicles, and/or tents, just right then you can create your own barriers. We were set up in site 20 which we fount to be the best spot out of the group since there was a little bush between us and site 21 and then more between us and the river. With our tents set up against the brush, and our vehicle parked on the other side, we found it to be a pretty peaceful spot. That along with direct river access and a reasonable distance from the facilities you can’t go wrong with site 20.
Here’s another spot on the map that’s a bit out of place. Sites 28 and 29 are backwards on the reservation map so you will want to flip those when making a reservation. Realistically, sites 27, 28, and 29 aren’t really that great since they are so close together. On the map it looks like they are evenly distributed around the circle when in fact they are all bunched together on the upper part of the circle where the river access is. The two closest sites in this area are sites 27 and mapped site 29 (actual site 28) so if you are thinking about reserving anything in this area we would recommend avoiding those two in particular since they are practically on top of one another.
Moving down the loop we didn’t really like the sites on the inner circle since they are in close proximity of the showers, restrooms, and dumping station. These sites do have a thin brush line separating the area but we imagine it could get a tad smelly in the hot summer months if those facilities are being accessed on a regular basis. That said, they might not be to awful bad if you are camping in an RV, but we wouldn’t recommend it for tent camping. We liked 31 and 32 but only if you got both sites together since they both occupy the same space. They are close to the restrooms, but not too close, they’ve got a good amount of brush in the surrounding area, and there is nothing behind you which is great.
Finally we have site 36, and this is one of those sites mapped on the wrong side of the road. Site 36 actually sits next to site 34 on the map, and it’s relatively small. This site, however, has got a lot of brush surrounding it so it makes for a pretty good spot if you’re looking for something close to the bathrooms. In fact the spot marked on the map as site 36 looks more like a parking area, almost like the make shift spot in front of sites 1 and 2 that we dubbed site 1A. This spot had a tent set up on it but it wasn’t a marked site so we aren’t really sure what’s going on with it. Again, the campground was full when we came so this could just be a overflow spot of some kind. This site also has decent grass coverage, then along with the brush, and parking your vehicle at the entrance, this could really be a great spot to camp if you don’t mind a little noise. Remember you are still in close proximity to the facilities, horse shoe court, and movie area, so just keep that in mind. You will also get all of the main traffic through this loop, if someone drives to the restroom, goes to the store, or anything since everyone uses this loop for a turnaround.
Well friends, that’s it, that’s all we’ve got, ultimately we would both come back so this campground so it gets two thumbs up from both of us. Kimberly has her showers, and there is no pit toilets, Spencer is happy being in the woods, at peace, fishing and eating. As usual we will place the preferred spots in the list below, please feel free to tell us what you think in the comments since we love to hear from other campers and answer any question they may have. As always, dance to the beat of your own drum, always keep smiling, and happy camping.
|River Access||No River Access|
|– Sites 1 and 2 Together|
– Site 20 (Honey Pot)
– Site 25
– Sites 27 and 28 together
– Site 29
|– Site 16|
– Site 30A (Honey Pot)
– Sites 31 and 32 Together