Body of Water: Trues Pond, Liberty/Montville Township Maine Map 14 B1
There are TWO launches for this pond. I used the Southern Launch, from the dam off Chaote Road because the pond was inaccessible from the launch off Trues Pond Road due to really low water levels. I am not sure how good the other launch is in higher water, but assume, because it is a launch, would be accessible.
I started at the Trues Pond Rd. launch, figuring if the road was named for the pond, access would be easy. But... the water was gross, mucky and there was no way to access the pond because the water levels were so low.
Directions to Chaote Rd. Dam Launch: From Portland, Take I -95 north to Exit 113, towards Augusta/Belfast. Keep Right at the fork to be on Rt. 3 East for just over 28 miles, then turn right onto Rt 220 South for 1.8 miles (road becomes Rt. 173) Turn Right onto Stevens Pond Road to stay on Rt. 173 and drive for 2.4 miles, passing the launch for Stevens Pond. Slow down after seeing Prescott Hill Road on the Right. After going over a small bridge/guardrails, turn left onto a dirt road. This road does not have a road sign, but it is Chaote Rd. or New Chaote Road, depending on what map you see. After turning onto Chaote Rd. drive 0.2 miles and pull off to the right when you see a dirt road/drive on the left.
Park and walk into the dam to assess whether or not this is a good place for you to put in. Then, if it is, make a plan for parking. I was tempted to pull in just off the road (same side as the dam) because it seemed like 1 vehicle could park there and cars could still get in and out. I was a bit paranoid I would get blocked in! If you don't think this is a great spot for you, check out Stevens Pond, not too far away.
Launch here at the dam: slope, a little steep, but depending on water level, a doable launch.
Parking at the dam: There is room for maybe 2 cars right at the dam, 3 cars if one parked very close to the road and two parked down by the dam, but that would leave little room for turning around. Backing up is a good skill… this little road to the dam is NARROW! Be careful! I would say take a walk in first to see if it is for you or not! (If not, Stevens Pond is very closeby!)
Directions to Trues Pond Rd. Launch: From Portland, Take I -95 north to Exit 113, towards Augusta/Belfast. Keep Right at the fork to be on Rt. 3 East for just over 60 miles, then turn right onto Rt 220 South (road becomes Rt. 173/Trues Pond Road) for 2.3 miles. Launch is just before a small bridge on the right. It is easy to drive by.
Launch here: is a sloped gravel/grassy area to the water. A small put in, probably gradual in higher water. (At this time in the season/weather pattern, this put in had the MUCK factor…. I am not sure I would have tried to launch here even if the path looked open because my feet would have been in A LOT of slime!) I think earlier in the season this would probably be fine.
Putting in here would not have led to a very long paddle at this point in the season… I could have gone under the road and paddled a bit, but I think that would be it. The water levels are very low and I would not have been able to leave this small area to connect with the rest of the pond.
Notes: After finding the launch off Trues Pond Road and being disappointed that I could not access the pond from there I was bummed. Disappointed, I got out the gazetteer and noticed another hand carry launch on the southern end. So drove there… I had no idea what I was looking for… (sometimes that leads to the best adventure!) I should add here that I had not planned on being in this area to paddle. I had planned on being in Rangeley and had done a lot of research on ponds in that neck of the woods… had google earthed it and all! But due to a camper malfunction I could not use the camper (after driving all the way to Rangeley!) and drove to the dealership where I bought it. (Actually drove to my dad’s so I could get to the dealership early the next morning!) I figured from there I would head home… but I did not want to waste the week… So… once the camper was fixed, I headed to Lake St. George State Park in Liberty, Maine. I had no idea what to expect, but saw ponds nearby with carry in symbols and figured why not! (Overall a great experience, I would recommend camping at Lake St. George State Park Campground! I am blogging about it and will share a link here when it is up.)
Anyway... after having looked at the Gazetteer I knew I was looking for a road on the left after Prescott Hill Rd. Well, the only road that seemed to make any sense was an unmarked dirt road, I later learned is called Chaote Road. Not far on that road was a dirt road ish looking thing and I thought it warranted a further look. So I parked the truck and Gladys and I walked down the road. Well, the road eventually came to a dam area and it seemed like a place from which I could launch… I am not sure if this is the official launch site, but I used it! The slope to the water was steeper than I am used to, but I saw a much free zone that warranted launching. I think when the water is higher this would be a much easier place to launch.
I was not sure if this was a good idea or not. From the dam I could see downed trees, rocks sticking up, and it looked like the water was shallow. I wondered if it was worth the effort to get the kayak unloaded and onto the water if I could not get beyond where I could see. But…. (picture hands on my hips) I am MaineKayakGirl and Why Not? So far nothing in this trip has gone right, but yet there have been some nice highlights anyway. (getting to see my parents, getting to see A LOT of Maine…) So I went for it.
I was right it was SHALLOW! As I left the place where I could see from the dam I had to carefully maneuver around some rocks and downed trees… but after that, for themes part there was a deep enough channel for me to follow… and I definitely couldn’t get lost because there was only one route! I think returning here early in the spring would make this place unrecognizable. In some spots the lily pads were higher than my kayak and they looked like they were screaming for rain. So… what is supposed to be a decent little pond was really a meandering stream. It ‘essed’ back and forth like a serpentine and the vegetation that was growing where water had recently been was so green! I kept expecting to see a mother deer and a pair of fawns feeding…. I did not see that! I did see a large group of Canada geese and a blue heron.
I did see a few houses along the shores which included what seemed to be docks that were high and dry! I wonder if this happens every year.. I also went by what sounded like a kids camp of some kind. I didn’t see people but heard tunes playing and kids playing some kind of game.
As I paddled I broke one of my own rules… I assumed that this was going to be a pretty boring paddle… but assumptions are often wrong and I am glad I kept paddling. Around one corner an owl flew, incredibly silently I might add, right across in front of me! Around another a large family of Canada geese were frantically feeding on all the goodness that was exposed by the low water levels. Sandpipers were everywhere! They are so fun to watch. I saw a few painted turtles and sadly the decaying body of a small snapping turtle. As I neared the end of where could paddle a bald eagle swooped from a tree and few away from me. (didn’t get a pic!) And I finally saw one of the frogs I had heard singing.
On the return trip we had quite an experience. I truly felt transported to a different place… in my mind it was Africa (probably because I want to go there one day!) walking with determination and fervor, there across the Serengeti … was a snapping turtle…
I have seen them in the water most often and when I have seen them on land it has been for such a short time that I had never gotten to truly observe the energy that guy has to expend to walk. He had a long way to go to get to the water… across grassy mud that I am sure he was used to swimming over and through drooping lily pads. It was SO COOL! I watched him for a long time! (Hence all these pictures!)
Gladys REALLY wanted to play with him… or maybe eat him for dinner… I couldn’t tell… but she eventually lost her self control of staying in the kayak, following commands, and jumped out… into black mud! (Not kidding!) She wanted to pull me and the kayak to the turtle.
The turtle immediately laid down and wondered what the hell was happening. I retrieved a very muddy Gladys… who proceeded to shake on me and get me quite filthy! We continued to watch him and eventually we left him alone to go wherever he was going, hopefully into the water! (I hope that other snapping turtle we saw didn’t just give up as it was crossing the desert and died right there…)
On the way back we played hide and seek with a blue heron. It would hide, we would seek. It was beautiful.
Just as we got back to the dam it started raining a bit. So we got off the water at just the right time!
This place is hard to find. But I am glad I did. Water levels were so incredibly low, but that's the beauty of paddling! We can access places boats can't. This is a great example of that!