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! Our 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 Sandy and I are available to attend/present various functions/events. Please email me at for more information!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Great Pond, Cape Elizabeth

Body of Water: Great Pond, Cape Elizabeth, ME [Maine Gazetteer Map , between A & B and 4 & 5]

Directions (from Portland, ME): Follow Rt. 77 into South Portland.  Once in South Portland Rt. 77 merges with Broadway. Stay in the right lane and turn Right to stay on Rt. 77. (Across from Mill Creek Park)   Stay on Rt. 77 until you pass by Cape Elizabeth High School then turn right onto Fowler Road. Drive down Fowler Road until Fenway Road, on the left.  (About a mile down.)  Follow Fenway to its end and park in the cal de sac.  Look for the trail to get to the launch site. 

Boat Launch: To get to the place to put in your kayak, you are going to have to walk a bit.  Of the places I have kayaked this is the longest walk.  I would HIGHLY recommend having a cart of some kind to move your kayak if you are doing this spot solo.  (I was with a friend and we walked into the pond first to see how far we had to walk.  I am terrible at estimating distances I walk, but it probably was a 5-10 minute walk, depending on how many times you stop to rest your arms!) Once you get to the place to put in the kayaks, the launch site is great.  Sandy and gradual slope into the pond.  Here are some pictures of the walk and launch site:

Again, I recommend a cart of some kind if you are doing this solo! 

From the cul de sac, head straight into the woods...

This is a small decline. Once you see the boat racks, you are close! 

People from the town participate in some kind of lottery/rental system to be able to keep their boats here.  

After the boat racks the trail splits, to the left is a nature trail, to the right is the launch site! 

And, there it is! 

It was a bit of a walk, especially compared to other places I have kayaked, but the seclusion truly makes this a hidden gem.  

Parking: There is not a parking area specific for using this area.  I read online that people are expected to park on the sides of the street, respecting the homeowners, and walk into the pond.  (There was only one other vehicle parked on the street when I was there.)

Wildlife: blue heron, painted turtles, cormorant, hawk, many other birds, probably frogs, and I was told this is a great bass fishing spot.

Notes: I had heard about Great Pond.  I had heard that only Cape Elizabeth residents were supposed to access it, but I did not find any such signs and figured as long as we were respectful we would be fine.  (And I was right!) To be honest,  I underestimated this pond.  I had chosen it because a friend of mine, who I have taken kayaking a couple of times, has decided to buy a kayak.  One of her friends was selling one and my friend wanted to try it out.  She asked if I could help her transport the kayak and go with her for safety sake and it was close to where her friend lived.  Since I had to work during the day I figured it would be a quick test paddle and would call it good.  Even when we arrived I was pretty neutral about it.  After seeing we had to walk in a ways and I was doing most of the heavy lifting on both kayaks (my friend's back was bothering her) I was not sure it would be worth the effort.  But it was! (I do love sharing my love of kayaking with people, so I am happy to help people, just like a good payoff of great kayaking for the hard work!)  Where we put in I could tell that the pond was a decent size, but as we paddled we found lots of nooks and crannies to explore.  I like places where you paddle around a corner and you can't tell if it is a dead end, so you paddle in and sometimes, if you get lucky, you find a whole other area to explore. The scenery here is unique, compared to other places I have been.  The pond is surrounded by cattails and reeds.  (At first I thought it would bore me, but it was pretty!) It was a great place, especially if you want a place to go after work!  I also think this would be a great place for beginners and for families.   One unique feature was being able to hear the foghorn from the Fort Williams lighthouse nearby.  As we were paddling we could hear its tone and it was cool.  Here are some pictures:

This was taken shortly after we launched, looking across the pond.  It was a little breezy, but still an easy paddle.  

After putting in we decided to go left and keep the shore to our left, again making sure we knew how to get back to the launch site.  The cattails were sooo tall!  

There were also many lily pads and lilies.  Some areas were so full of lilies it made paddling a bit of a challenge.  (I bet in early spring, with higher water levels and less vegetation,  there are more places that are accessible.)

There were of course some dragonflies! 

In one of the 'hidden' areas I came across this beaver house.  We did not see a beaver, but this seems to be proof they live here.  

Very peaceful! 

As always, a toe shot! 

As we paddled I kept hearing turtles plopping into the water, but didn't see them...until this guy.  He was a bit brave, but also plopped in the water not long after taking this pic! 

Then I saw this... at first I thought the turtle's shell was shedding, but then I realized it was a dragonfly! I hoped to have a chance to get a better angle... 

And I did!  I was so excited they stayed like that long enough for a couple of pictures.  I love this picture, one of my favorites! 
I didn't notice it at the time, but there is a leach on his back leg... not as cool as the dragonfly!

The way the sun was shining it was hard to tell exactly what kind of bird this was... but I believe it was a cormorant... a small one, but it was duck like, and had some of the same features.  I do like the silhouette that I got because of the angle of the sun.  

This is the one where I think it looks like a cormorant.  

It kept making weird motions with its neck.  I think it was trying to swallow a fish.  

The clouds moved in.  (It had rained all morning but cleared up.) 

It was pretty.  

There were a few houses on one side of the pond.  but the feeling on the pond was that of seclusion and tranquility.  

As we approached the take out site a heron was there, but flew away before I could get a good picture.  

Again, this was a place I underestimated. Because I prefer to paddle in places with limited boat traffic I really enjoyed this location.  The walk in felt a bit inconvenient, until I was out paddling.  It did not take me long to decide this was well worth the extra effort.  
A side note... If you are looking for a kayak, if you are just getting into the sport or looking to change your kayak model, try them out.  My friend did not like the kayak she used yesterday.  She liked how easily it turned and maneuvered, but she is fairly tall and the cockpit was too small for her to be able to move around much.  By the time we got out she was hurting.  Kayaking is so relaxing, or should be.  Worrying about your level of comfort should not be part of the experience.  The lesson here is before investing in a kayak, try them out.  Go to a place that will allow you to get in and paddle, paddle for a while to see if it fits your body and needs.  If you are going to buy one used, ask the owner if you can try it out.  The worst they can say is no.  Another option is to go to places that sell kayaks and provide opportunities to test out different kayaks.  A good retailer is going to provide that opportunity.  If you have friends who are kayakers, try a paddle in their boat and see what you think. 
I am very tall and not a beanpole, so I need a boat that is long and I want one that is stable.  I love a big cockpit.  I have had knee surgery and need to reposition myself as I paddle. I would not like kayaking if I had a kayak that did not allow me to do that.  Know yourself and your body and know where you will be kayaking most in order to get the right yak! 

Keep Paddling! 

Oh... by the way... Got this sticker in the mail the other day... had seen it on someone's boat on facebook and tracked down the source.  Someone designed them and is selling them in Michigan.  

THIS is my kind of church!  
Photo: A new sticker for my truck...figured since I am a minister and all...I should have a religion!!!


  1. This is probably the place I kayak the most often because I live nearby and it's good even if I only have a short time before there's not enough light in the evening after work. I had always seen Great Pond on maps but I wasn't sure about going there to kayak until I saw your blog. I've been an avid reader for about a year now. This is such a valuable resource. Thanks for taking the time to make it so useful as well as entertaining.

    1. Thank you! I was skeptical of Great Pond as well because it appears so small, but really enjoy it! Definitely worth the walk into the pond!