This story was originally published in July 2019.
A gentle breeze stirred the surface of the lake, carving sparkling patterns on its surface. As the sun rose, the day quickly warmed, pushing away the chill of the night.
Along the shore of the lake the tall grass swayed and murmured. A kingfisher lit from a branch, and with a rattling cry, dove into the water with a splash. The bird then rose in the sky, a fish seized by its pointed beak.
At the public landing, two paddlers settled into their canoe, buckling life jackets and arranging fishing rods. In the center of their boat, a cooler contained drinks and lunch. They had planned to make a day out of it.
Just offshore, a loon surfaced. Water streamed over his smooth, dark head. A red eye caught the sun. And the next moment he was gone, swimming underwater looking for fish.
Once ready, the paddlers left the dock. With each dip of their paddles, they were propelled further out into the open water, headed for a distant island. The day was young and they had a lot of exploring to do.
Fields Pond at Orrington
Located just south of Bangor, Fields Pond is a popular place to fish, paddle and swim. It features a small island that is engulfed on one side by a wetland that attracts a wide variety of wildlife, including some famous snapping turtles.
Although springs vary greatly depending on the size of the pond, the Maine Audubon and Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife agree that it covers just under 200 acres. The majority of the shore of the pond is undeveloped except for a few houses and camps at the northern end.
At the northeast end of the pond is the 212-acre Fields Pond Audubon Center, which includes a network of trails that explores the fields, wetlands, and rolling forests east of the pond. This trail network connects to the boat launch, making it easy to combine a quick hike with your paddling.
Directions: The public boat launch is located on Fields Pond Road in Orrington, just 0.2 mile west of the entrance to the Fields Pond Audubon Center, located at 216 Fields Pond Road. If you are coming from the east, the boat launch is 2.4 miles from the intersection of Fields Pond Road with Wiswell Road in Holden, and will be on your left. If coming from the west, the boat launch is 2.9 miles from the intersection of Fields Pond Road with Brewer Lake Road in Orrington.
The driveway to the boat launch and parking lot is approximately 400 feet long.
Silver Lake to Bucksport
Easy to moderate
Bucksport’s largest body of water, Silver Lake covers approximately 680 acres and includes several small islands. With a public wharf on its western shore, it’s a popular spot for paddling and bass fishing.
Most of the lake’s shoreline is undeveloped due to resource protection zoning, making it a great place to enjoy nature and view wildlife. Bald eagles, ospreys, muskrats and loons all live in Silver Lake.
Although the lake may look natural, it is actually man-made. It was dammed and flooded in 1930 to provide water for industrial processes at the nearby paper mill. The lake also serves as a water source for the town, so swimming is not permitted. Also, about halfway up the east side of the lake is a city-owned park that includes over 2 miles of hiking trails and a handboat launch. It’s a great place for paddlers to stop and stretch their legs.
For more information, call the Bucksport Municipal Office at 207-469-7368.
Directions: The public boat launch for Silver Lake is located on Silver Lake Road in Bucksport, approximately 1.6 miles south of the intersection of Silver Lake Road with Town Farm Road. If coming from the south, from Main Street in downtown Bucksport, turn onto McDonald Street (across from Sawyer Auto Sales) and travel 2.1 miles to the boat launch. Along the way, McDonald Street becomes Silver Lake Road. The boat launch includes a concrete ramp and a long wooden dock. Parking is not permitted at the launch. Unloading and loading of boats is limited to 10 minutes. A parking lot is located 200 feet down the road, to the south.
Pushaw Lake in Orono
Easy to hard
Sprawling over 5,000 acres just north of Bangor, Lake Pushaw has long been a place where residents of the Bangor area can enjoy a variety of water sports, including kayaking and canoeing. It can get a bit crowded on scorching summer days, but if you arrive early in the morning or on a weekday, you might avoid the hubbub.
Several islands dot the southern end of the lake, where Gould Landing is located. From smallest to largest, these are Mouse, Ram, Hardwood, Dollar and Moose Islands. These can serve as paddling goals, destinations to visit, or paddling during your trip.
Although there are many homes and camps located along the shore of this lake, there is also plenty of wilderness, including the Caribou Bog Wilderness Area located on the southeast side of the lake. Common wildlife sightings by paddlers at the lake include beavers, herons, loons, eagles, kingfishers, ducks and geese.
For more information, contact the Orono Land Trust, which manages Gould Landing for the Maine Department of Transportation. The land trust can be reached by email at [email protected]
Directions: Gould Landing is located at the north end of Essex Street in Orono, approximately 6 miles north of the intersection of Essex Street with Stillwater Avenue in Bangor.
This story originally appeared in the August 2019 issue of Bangor Metro.