June 21, 2018
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Paddles in Maine: Branch Lake — 7 miles

By Jeff Strout, BDN Staff

Here’s a roughly 7-mile paddle at Branch Lake’s southern end, that is an out and back beginning at the narrows where the state-owned beach is located.

There are two pit toilets at beach site, so you may want to take advantage of them before setting out.

Be aware that there are not many places to go ashore on this paddle, but keep a keen eye and several will make themselves evident. The public boat ramp at the southern end of the lake is an option as well.

Begin at the public beach, being courteous to beach-goers and swimmers. You will need to carry your kayak or canoe from the parking area to lakeside, a distance of 100 yards, give or take. A kayak or canoe cart will work well. You can load your boat at the parking area, then wheel it to the water over a well-worn path.

Be mindful that the wind can pick up on this lake quickly, and a stiff north breeze can kick up good waves and make the return trip a workout. Hugging the shoreline may be a good option depending on the direction of the wind.

After leaving the beach, keep an eye out for large submerged boulders, particularly at the first point you will round. Likewise as your go through the narrows, there are boulder-strewn shallows on the western side that usually make themselves evident in any waves.

Just south of the narrows on the western shore there is a small campsite and fire pit with a tiny, narrow sand beach. It’s early in the trip, but the next place to get out is way down the lake. Most of the rest of the shoreline is rocky, and not hospitable for landing. A large cove lined with camps is the next landmark.

Continuing south you’ll approach the southwestern end of the lake. If you turn eastward you’ll soon find the thoroughfare that would take you under a bridge and into Mill Pond, where the public boat launch is located.

Continuing on your counterclockwise circumnavigation you’ll see a small sandy beach without any camp. I’ve stopped here once to stretch and have a drink of water.

If the weather and wind permit, you can continue up the relatively uninhabited eastern shore and back to the narrows and your starting point. If the wind is out of the north or northwest and blowing toward the eastern shore, you may want to cross the southern end of the lake and work your way up the western shore. Play it by ear.

To get to the narrows, take Route 1A. At Annie’s Farm Stand turn onto Winkumpaugh Road and follow it (it turns to gravel) to Happytown Road. Turn left (south) onto Happytown Road and continue on to Branchview Drive and follow it to the end.

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