Directions (from Portland, ME): Take 302 west from Portland towards Windham. After crossing Riverside Street stay on 302 for just over a mile. Rt. 302 widens to two lanes just after the traffic light at Brook/Pride St. There is a right turning arrow in the right lane, follow this arrow and turn right onto Elmwood Avenue, which turns into Duck Pond Road. (I am not sure at what point it changes as there is no road sign or marker.) COntinue following Elmwood/uck Pond Rd. for about 2.2 miles then take Mast Rd. which will be on your right. Stay on Mast Road for about 0.6 miles and on the left you will see a sign for the public access point as well as a sign for Lowell Farm Rd. The access point is down Lowell Farm Rd. Follow the signs for the access point. You will turn left off Lowell Farm Rd to the parking area.
Boat Launch: The boat launch is sand and gravel. Where you put in is quite shallow. Easy to put in. As you can see from the picture there are rocks that prevent boat trailers from using this access point.
Parking: There was parking spaces for 6-8 vehicles in parking spots and the road was wide enough for other vehicles to park along it if needed. (There was one truck parked along the road when I was there because it had hauled a trailer with multiple canoes.) There is no fee for parking here.
Notes: Highland Lake is very close to Portland. It is easy to find and is perhaps one of the most accessible places to paddle if you want to stay close to Portland. This is a lake where you could spend an hour on the water or make a day of it and really take your time exploring the entire lake. When I first arrived I unloaded my kayak and there were two canoes and two kayaks coming off the lake. The sky darkened and I heard a loud clap of thunder. I asked the people coming off the water how it looked and they said they had paddled quickly to get back to the launch site to get off the water. I decided to stay put for a while. I reloaded the kayak, to get it out of the way in case other people showed up... and waited. The storm was pretty loud and the rain came down pretty hard, but I was determined to get out on the water so I waited. After about 40 minutes the sky lightened up and the sun was once again shining. I decided to go ahead and get out on the water while keeping an eye to the sky. I was not the only person on the water. While I was out I saw two other kayakers, two canoes, a couple of fishing boats, a lot of party boats (pontoon boats), a sailboat, and a couple of jet skis. There was more sound pollution than I am used to when I kayak due to the motorized vessels on the water. One important note when kayaking on busy lakes, be smart about where you are in comparison to boats. I was paddling and even though my red kayak usually stands out, one man in a party/pontoon boat did not see me as he was backing out of his dock. I had to back paddle quite a bit to stay out of his way as he kept turning in my direction. Eventually he saw me and apologized. Be aware of what other traffic is around and whether or not they can see you!
There are many camps/houses along the lake. I liked seeing so many people using the lake because many places that I kayak have unused summer homes, but I admit I prefer places that have less boat traffic than I saw today on Highland Lake. That being said, I know some people prefer to be on a body of water where there are other people around. Some people feel safer with more people around. I prefer the quieter locations, but this is a place I will return to on those days where I need to get on the water and don't have as much time to go a bit further from home. In many places I could easily see the bottom of the lake. The water was shallow in many places and very clear. There were many buoys on the lake, marking rocks. The main part of the lake seemed pretty open and bigger boats were going fairly fast, but closer to the edges and more pond like areas the boats, if they went there, were going much more slowly. Here are some pictures of my paddle today: