My Book!!

One opportunity that the blog has brought me is the co-authoring of a guidebook, Paddling Southern Maine! It is something in which I take a lot of pride! My writing partner, Sandy Moore, and I have created a book with 54 amazing trips that are within about an hour of Portland! Out motto as we wrote the book was wanting to 'get people to spend the day on the water and not in their cars!'

If you want more information on our book please visit www.paddlingsouthernmaine.com. Sandy and I are available to attend/present various functions/events. Please email me at mainekayakgirl@gmail.com for more information!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Highland Lake Falmouth/Windham, Maine

Body of Water: Highland Lake, Falmouth/Windham, ME [Maine Gazetteer Map 5, D3 ]

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.

This is 302 West after the light at the intersection of 302 & Pride St.  (Taken from the Subway Sandwich shop across the street.)  Turn Right, follow the arrow! 

The Public Access sign on the corner of Mast Rd. and Lowell Farm Rd. Turn Left here! 

This sign is on Lowell Farm Rd. Turn left to access the launch site.  

You will then drive down a driveway to get to the parking/launch site. 


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.

*There are no bathroom facilities at this launch point.  

Wildlife: While paddling I saw a frog, two loons, an eagle, a blue heron, and some other birds.  Many people were fishing here as well.

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:



It seems like there were parts of the lake that were more like a pond, given the vegetation.  After putting in,  you can go left which takes you towards someone's home and through many lily pads and other water plants.  That is the area where I saw the heron.  To the right, from the launch site, is the more open waters of the main part of the lake.   



I almost didn't notice this guy, but he was watching me closely and flew away, but I caught back up with him.  



As I got to the more open part of the lake the wind was blowing towards me and the water was a bit choppy.  

These Canada geese were swimming, but this was as close as I got.  

One of two Jet Skis I saw today.  They were going very fast and a good reminder to stay safe.  

I loved the many pine trees along the shores.  



This eagle's shadow passed over me and I didn't get my camera ready soon enough to get a better shot.  

Below this tree there was a point of rocks that extended out into the water.  At the end of the point there was a buoy marking the final rock.  There were a lot of buoys on the lake that marked rocks.  


The clouds started moving in again and I decided to turn back...just in case.  

The clouds were beautiful.  





In the pond like areas of the lake there were many lilies just waiting to pop open.  I bet next week at this time the lilies will be everywhere!  

Highland Lake is a very convenient place to paddle if you live in/near Portland.  It is a busy body of water.  
This seems like a place where families could enjoy their time.  A family friend loves Highland Lake for the bass fishing.  

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for your directions and the beautiful photos . . . . I am visiting this lake tomorrow:))

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  2. Awesome write up. I bought, "Paddling Southern Maine" after reading some of your blogs. The book is outstanding and I'm using it as a first time kayaker to determine where to go for my trips. Highland Lake was one of the closest and I figured less to worry about. Yesterday was a bit breezy, but overall I had a blast. Saw a blue heron, a couple big hawks (which I thought were eagles at first), then did see an eagle soaring above the eastern shore pines.

    I took your advice and went south first, which indeed is a hidden gem. You'd think the lake ends when you see that last camp. The dam is pretty tame and there is a nice pool there to turn around before hand. I did like the sign, "Danger - Dam ahead, fast water, keep away."

    Half my battle as a first time, "yaker was getting all my gear and the boat to the water. But, once that was handled, I did about 5-6 miles via GPS, coming back north and hugging the western shore, then crossing over about 1/2 way up the lake. Lots of folks out doing spring camp cleanups and projects. By the time I got back to the launch site about noon, the parking lot was full with more coming down the road.

    Royal River probably my next attempt. Thanks again, I'll keep at it.

    Thanks for your blog and book, I'm going to try and hit many of the destinations this season!

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