Sandy Stream Pond, Baxter State Park

Sandy Stream Pond #1

Photo Spot Summary

Country: United States

Category: Landscape

State: Maine

City: Millinocket

GPS Latitude: 45.925816

GPS Longitude: -68.856323


From the southern entrance to the Baxter State Park, drive 15 miles towards the Roaring Brook Campground day use parking. From the parking lot, walk 0.3 miles to the Sandy Stream Pond wildlife viewing area. Baxter State Park is about 300 miles north of Boston and reached via I-95, ME-157 and Baxter State Park Road (5-6 hours of driving time).

Photo Spot Details

Sandy Stream Pond is a prime area to watch and photograph Moose and landscapes. I recently had an opportunity to spend 3 days in Baxter State Park and during that time, I spend one evening and the next morning photographing around Sandy Stream Pond. In the evening, scattered backlit clouds added some color in the sky. We also saw a cow Moose with two calves but the light was already too low to make any good photographs. The next morning, however was amazing. First, I photographed the lit peaks and reflections at sunrise. There was low lying mist over the pond, which got beautiful back light when the sun peaked over the horizon. It was a light show, I will remember for quite some time. Then the cow Moose came out of the woods with her two calves. I was busy observing and photographing them when another cow Moose appeared and there was a little standoff and some action; which made for some interesting wildlife shots.

It is important to point that we camped at the Roaring Brook campground, which in my opinion is the only easy way to access the pond at dawn during the summer months. This is because the park entrance opens at 6 am and by the time you reach the pond, it is already past 7 in the morning (2 hours after sunrise) making the light flat for landscapes (Moose may still photograph well, though the activity may be low). However in fall, it might be possible to get to the pond just after sunrise even if you are not staying within the park.


1. Best light is usually at early morning and late evening. Since the pond is surrounded by mountains towards the west, it is in shade well before sunset. In contrast, the sun is behind you in the morning and paints the peaks with warm light at dawn.
2. Best season: Summer and Fall. Baxter State Park is famed for its fall foliage and I intend to make a visit in fall. An overcast day should also work very well in the Fall season.
3. Lens recommendations: I carried a 18-35 mm, 24-120 f/4 VR and a 80-400mm lens along with TC 1.4x. I also had a 24 mm, 50mm 85 mm primes. A longer lens e.g. 500/600mm f/4 will let give you more reach more shooting wildlife.
4. Polarizer and a sturdy tripod are essential. This is a place for long lenses as there is a well made wildlife viewing platform.
5. Baxter State Park has plenty more to offer for nature, landscape and wildlife photographers. Check with the rangers for other Moose viewing areas, scenic hikes etc. For avid hikers, climbing Mt. Kathadin is an opportunity not to be missed.

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About Vaibhav Tripathi

Vaibhav Tripathi obtained his PhD in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in 2014. He started pursuing photography as a hobby around 2008. Experimenting for about 2 years to find his niche, Vaibhav stumbled upon a few photos made by the late Galen Rowell. Inspired by Galen’s phenomenal work, he became a student of outdoor lighting and natural atmospheric phenomenon and began the quest for finding quality light. This never ending pursuit has resulted in numerous trips and hikes both close to home and in the wilderness. Having witnessed Nature’s grandeur from up close, Vaibhav strives to keep his photos look as natural as possible, thus reflecting his direct experience. You can visit his portfolio and purchase prints at Lyrical Outdoors and you can also see Vaibhav's work on his Facebook page.


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Thank you very much for the article. My wife and I are heading up to east Millinocket Friday August 28th 2020 in Hope’s of photographing some moose my wife calls it moose peeping ) your article was most informative and sounds like a good spot for use to hit

Marta and Peter