Great blue heron

Difficulty: Easy to moderate. Leaving some room to meander, it’s about 2.5 miles to paddle from the boat launch to the far end of the pond, at the outlet of McCaslin Stream. Therefore, out and back, it’s about a 5-mile paddle; however, you can always turn around earlier for a shorter paddle. The widest portion of the pond (at the north end) can get choppy on windy days. 

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How to get there: From the intersection of Route 177 and Route 175 in Penobscot, drive east on Route 177 (Western County Road) for 1.4 miles and turn left onto a narrow gravel drive, which leads to the boat launch and parking area in just a few hundred feet. If coming from the other direction (the east), this gravel drive is about 3.2 miles from where Route 177 meets Route 15 in Blue Hill. Coming from that direction, the drive will be on your right. GPS coordinates: 44.450872, -68.673998

Information: Covering just under 200 acres, Wight Pond is a long, narrow body of freshwater on the Blue Hill Peninsula. With a public boat launch at its south end, the pond is a great paddling location. The pond’s shoreline is mostly undeveloped, and its calm waters, filled with aquatic plants and warm water fish, attracts an abundance of wildlife.

Wight Pond is also a popular place for fishing, evidenced by several ice shacks lining the shore. Each winter, these small dwellings are dragged onto the ice to be used as shelter for ice fisherman.

The boat launch is located at the pond’s south end, at the inlet of Winslow Stream. The site includes a gravel parking area and a gentle, gravel slope into the water.

Just west of the boat launch, a wooden snowmobile bridge crosses over the mouth of Winslow Steam. Use of this trail is by permission only. On both sides of the bridge, rocks and sandbags have been placed across the stream strategically to form a fish ladder. During the spring, alewives travel upstream to spawn. This structure helps them along their way.

From the boat launch, the only direction to safely paddle is east and then north, following the curve of the long pond, which is so narrow at first that it feels more like a calm stream. Tall, wispy grasses line the shore, and floating spatterdock leaves dot the surface of the water. Other common aquatic plants that you can find in this section of the paddle include pickerelweed (a plant that emerges from the water with upright, spear-shaped leaves and spikes of tiny purple flowers) and bladderwort (a carnivorous plant that floats in long strands just below the surface and sucks tiny aquatic animals into small air pockets along its stems). 

spatterdock

The pond gradually widens as you paddle north. Aside from a couple houses set back from the water, the shoreline is wild. A few ice shacks — some abandoned and some still in use — are tucked into the trees here and there, waiting for winter. Clusters of blue irises can also be found along the shore, here and there. The pond also features a few beaver lodges, though they may not all still be in use. 

The widest part of the pond is at its north end. There you’ll find one last beaver lodge near the outlet of McCauslin Stream. This makes for a great turn-around point.

The beaver lodge at the north end of the pond. Credit: MIDCOAST BEACON PHOTO BY ABIGAIL CURTIS

The boat launch on Wight Pond is owned by the Town of Penobscot. For more information, call the town office at 207-326-4364.

Personal note: Dragonflies zipped through the air. Whirligig water beetles carved paths through the water. And daisies danced in the breeze near the shore. 

“Wow, this is really beautiful,” I said to my husband, Derek, as I wandered the edge of Wight Pond on Saturday. 

At the boat launch, we took our time freeing our kayaks from the back of our truck. The sun was shining bright and warm, and a steady breeze swept away the mosquitoes (which have been especially abundant this spring).  

As we readied for our adventure, we were joined by Derek’s mom, Geneva, and her partner, John. They, too, were taken aback by the beauty and seclusion of the boat launch. “How did we find it?” They wanted to know. 

“We got lucky,” I told them. I had found the long, narrow pond using my DeLorme (The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer). I then viewed satellite images of the body of water and the boat launch on Google Maps. It had looked like a promising place to paddle, but it ended up exceeding my expectations.

Derek and his mom paddling in a narrow area of Wight Pond

That day, the four of us paddled all the way to the north end of the pond and back, for a trip that was about 5 miles long. Along the way, we observed a great blue heron wading through the tall grasses along the shore; a cormorant perched on a half-submerged log; a mother goose followed by a line of grey, fuzzy goslings; an osprey diving for fish; and two loons fishing in the wider section of the pond. 

Great blue heron. We couldn’t avoid paddling by it, and it kept making short flights and landing farther ahead of us. So we enjoyed its company for quite some time.

We also found an eastern painted turtle sunning on an old beaver lodge; and upon closer inspection, we noticed that just beside the turtle, a wooden canoe paddle had been packed into the mud and sticks that made up the domed structure. I’m not sure how the paddle got there, but I’ve heard stories of beavers stealing paddles and other manmade objects to add to their constructions.

Do you see the turtle? Do you see the paddle? Credit: BDN

Our pace was slow and meandering, which allowed us to notice the smaller wonders of nature, as well. For example, as we drifted through floating spatterdock leaves, Derek pointed hundreds of iridescent beetles perched on the vegetation. And on granite boulders along the shore, I found large fishing spiders, likely waiting to ambush some aquatic insects. 

One of my favorite creatures from the day was a small beetle that hitched a ride on my kayak for an hour or so. Entirely gold, the beetle looked like a piece of jewelry. It was a bit camera shy, but I managed to take a couple photos before it flew away.

My golden friend.

More photos from our paddle: