Monday, September 1, 2014

Crooked River , Casco Maine


Body of Water: Crooked River, Casco Maine  [Maine Gazetteer, Map 5 B1]

Directions: From Portland take Rt. 302 into Windham.  Stay on 302 through Raymond and watch for the sign for Sebago State Park.   Turn left onto the State Park Road, pass the State Park entrance and go over a bridge (which is the Crooked River) Turn left at Watkins Road and the picnic area will be on the left.  There are not signs for the picnic area.  If you cross a second bridge, you missed the picnic area, but if you turn around the picnic area will be obvious hen you turn around. 
(Coordinates of this location: 43.932395, -70.577519       I have begun using google maps on my phone to 'star' places I kayak and it has been very helpful.  If you enter the coordinates into google maps or enter Songo Locks Maine, you will be able to see the area quite well from the satellite images. Please let me know if the coordinates are helpful.  I will try to use them more if people like them.)

Boat Launch:  There is no official ramp here, but there is a gradual slope down to the water from the picnic area and launching is relatively easy.  You will need to carry your kayak (canoe, paddleboard, etc.)  a short distance to get to the place where it is easiest to put in.)  

 This is the picnic area looking at the dam at the Locks. I forgot to take pictures of this part on this trip, so these are pictures from a trip I did last fall with a friend and my step sister to help give you an idea of the area.  (So nice, even if you don't paddle, a picnic lunch would be perfect here!) 


 This stone wall goes along the part you would walk down to get to the water.

This is where you can launch from. 
 

Parking: Free. Dirt parking lot, with a decent amount of parking spaces. I expect this area to be busier on summer weekends than other times. (I did not think to take pictures of the parking area, I will do so next time and post!) 
This is looking at the dam from the water.  The parking area is behind the dam on the right.



Wildlife: Heron, ducks, kingfishers, and other birds, turtles, and fish

Notes: From this launch site, Crooked River goes to the left, the Songo River would be straight ahead, and to get to Brandy Pond you would go to the right (thought the locks) There are no fees  to park or launch here, but if you wanted to spend more time on the water and go through the Songo Locks up to Brandy Pond, there is a fee.  The sign said $6.00 per boat, but when I have gone before they have given kayakers a deal, but that may not be the case now.  It is a cool experience to go through the locks.  I have posted about that before on my Songo River/Brandy Pond trip.  From here you can also paddle down the Songo River and out to Sebago Lake. I was reminded that bringing a garbage bag with me is a good idea.  There was one area of the river where some floating bottles had collected as well as a couple of children's toys.  I definitely see this river as clean, but I think that there is a lot of boat traffic in the Songo River area and people are careless.  Please make sure you take out any trash/bottles you bring in.  Because the river is narrow and well protected it is a great place to go when it is too windy to go other places. I cannot wait to return here this fall as the foliage begins to change!

Crooked River is appropriately named.  It winds back and forth as it takes you away from the Songo Locks and up to Rt. 302.  (Some people launch from 'Old Rt. 302' where there is an old bridge, but I felt that the hill there was too steep and launching from the picnic area at Songo Locks was safer. If you want to check out the other launch site the coordinates are: 43.958997, -70.565660.  I have not launched from there, but I know people who have.)  You can spend a lot of time paddling up this river.  I did not make it all the way to 302, but it looks like you could not only make it to 302, but go beyond it, making for a great paddle.  It would also be a great place to start early in the morning paddle up the Crooked River, return to the picnic area for lunch and then spend the afternoon paddling down the Songo to Sebago Lake (great sand bar for swimming) or take time to go up through the locks and into Brandy Pond.  This could be a place to go if you want to spend the whole day on the water. On the other hand, this could be a place where you put in, paddle for a little while and return for a quicker paddle.  

This place is quiet and much less busy than the Songo River, especially during tourist season.  It is quiet and there are places along this river where a calmness comes over you and there is an automatic connection to nature.  There are a few homes/camps along the river, but it is very peaceful.   There are a couple of places that a kayak can enter that boats cannot and in those places I was lucky to see some wildlife. 

These are pictures taken this weekend.   Early on I spotted this guy.  I love the feathers!



This is the bridge you cross when coming down the State Park Road right before the picnic area parking area.


The river is pretty narrow.  We did paddle out towards Sebago Lake and there were huge waves out there, looked like the ocean.  As you can see the water on the river was nice and calm. 





I am pretty sure this was a young beaver, but am not 100% sure.  It could be a muskrat, but seemed a little big to me to be a muskrat. 







I am not sure what this bird is, but I enjoy watching them.  They are dainty and purposeful in their movements.



Another Heron!


This is heading down the Songo River, after we had paddled the Crooked River, but thought I would include the pictures. 

This Heron was actually in one of the ponds only accessible by kayak (or canoe) off the Songo River.  He flew over our heads, I swear only about three feet above my friend and into this pond area.  He seemed to want us to follow him.  Once in the pond area we stayed fairly still and he kept walking towards us and by us, very unphased by our presence.  Usually these birds are more private, but this one seemed to want our company.  It was an incredible heron encounter.



This was cute!  Just like cats and dogs do, this heron was scratching itself (its ear maybe?!). 

It posed for many pictures and I took full advantage. 











Here is a video of the heron as it walked by my friend in her kayak: 



The Crooked River is a great place to paddle.  For families with young kids, it would be a safe adventure.  For people who want to spend the day on the water, this is the perfect spot.  It is also a place where paddling out to Sebago Lake would offer a great swimming opportunity.  

As always, take plenty of water for you and your paddling friends, wear sunscreen, and take out any/all trash you bring with you.  (And take trash others have left if you can!)

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