A gentle breeze stirred the surface of the lake, carving sparkling patterns into its surface. As the sun rose higher, the day rapidly warmed, shrugging off the chill of the night.
Along the lakeshore, tall grasses swayed and whispered. A kingfisher lighted from a branch, and with rattling cry, dove into the water with a splash. The bird then rose back into the sky, a fish grasped in its sharp bill.
At the public landing, two paddlers situated themselves in their canoe, buckling life vests and arranging fishing poles. At the center of their boat, a cooler held drinks and lunch. They planned to make a day of it.
Just off shore, a loon surfaced. Water streamed down its sleek, dark head. One red eye caught the sun. And in the next moment, it was gone, swimming underwater in search for fish.
Once ready, the paddlers pushed off from the dock. With each dip of their paddles, they were propelled farther out into the open water, aimed toward a distant island. The day was young, and they had a lot of exploring to do.
Fields Pond in Orrington
Located just south of Bangor, Fields Pond is a popular place to fish, paddle and swim. It features a small island that’s engulfed on one side by a wetland area that attracts a wide variety of wildlife, including some famously large snapping turtles.
Though sources vary greatly on the pond’s size, the Maine Audubon and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife agree that it covers just under 200 acres. The majority of the pond’s shore is undeveloped, with the exception of a few houses and camps on the north end.
On the pond’s northeast end is the 212-acre Fields Pond Audubon Center, which features a trail network that explores fields, wetland areas and hilly forestland east of the pond. This trail network connects to the boat launch, which makes it easy to combine a quick hike with your paddle.
Directions: The public boat launch is located on Fields Pond Road in Orrington, just 0.2 mile west of the entrance to Fields Pond Audubon Center, located at 216 Fields Pond Road. If coming from the east, the boat launch is 2.4 miles from where Fields Pond Road intersects with Wiswell Road in Holden, and will be on your left. If coming from the west, the boat launch is 2.9 miles from where Fields Pond Road intersects with Brewer Lake Road in Orrington.
The driveway to the boat launch and parking area is about 400 feet long.
Silver Lake in Bucksport
Easy to Moderate
The largest body of water in Bucksport, Silver Lake covers about 680 acres and features several small islands. With a public dock on its west shore, it’s a popular place to paddle and fish for bass.
Most of the lake’s shoreline is undeveloped due to resource protection zoning, making it a great place to enjoy nature and spot wildlife. Bald eagles, osprey, muskrats and loons all call Silver Lake their home.
Though the lake may appear natural, it’s actually man-made. It was dammed and flooded in 1930 to supply water to industrial processes at the nearby paper mill. The lake also serves as the town’s water source, so swimming is not permitted. Also, about halfway up the eastern side of the lake is a town-owned park that features over 2 miles of hiking trails and a hand-carry boat launch.This is a great place for paddlers to stop and stretch their legs.
For more information, call the Bucksport Town Office at 207-469-7368.
Directions: The public boat launch for Silver Lake is located on Silver Lake Road in Bucksport, approximately 1.6 miles south of where Silver Lake Road intersects with Town Farm Road. If coming from the south, from Main Street in downtown Bucksport, turn onto McDonald Street (across from Sawyer Auto Sales) and drive 2.1 miles to the boat launch. Along the way, McDonald Street becomes Silver Lake Road. The boat launch includes a concrete ramp and a long wooden dock. Parking is not permitted at the launch. Unloading and loading of boats is limited to 10 minutes. A parking lot is located 200 feet down the road, to the south.
Pushaw Lake in Orono
Easy to Challenging
Sprawling over 5,000 acres just north of Bangor, Pushaw Lake has long been a place for Bangor area residents to enjoy a variety of water sports, including kayaking and canoeing. It can be a bit crowded during the dog days of summer, but if you arrive early in the morning or during a week day, you may avoid the hubbub.
Several islands dot the lake’s south end, where Gould Landing is located. From smallest to largest, they are Mouse, Ram, Hardwood, Dollar and Moose islands. These can serve as paddling goals, destinations to visit or paddle around during your trip.
While there are many houses and camps located along the shore of this lake, there’s also plenty of wilderness, including the Caribou Bog Wilderness Area located on the lake’s southeast side. Common wildlife sightings by paddlers at the lake include beavers, herons, loons, eagles, kingfishers, ducks and geese.
For more information, contact the Orono Land Trust, which stewards Gould Landing for the Maine Department of Transportation. The land trust can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Directions: Gould Landing is located at the north end of Essex Street in Orono, about 6 miles north of where Essex Street intersects with Stillwater Avenue in Bangor.
This story was originally published in Bangor Metro’s August 2019 issue.