After spending a couple delightful weeks exploring the bays, inlets and near islands of the midcoast and Down East coast, it was time for me last week to head west (and north) to do some quiet water paddling on one of Maine’s many thousand flatter pieces of inland fresh water.
My travels took me to a pond where I had only seen the trickle of its outlet stream as it passed through a culvert on the Lily Bay Road just a few miles north of Greenville on its way into Beaver Cove on the east shore of majestic Moosehead Lake.
I’d seen Prong Pond on the map and often from the air as I lifted off to the north from the airport in Greenville, and every time I caught sight of its interesting shape, convoluted shoreline and tiny islands, I had made a mental note that someday I’d give it a closer water-level inspection.
So on a recent beautiful early July morning, I headed out shortly after 5 a.m. for the roughly two-hour trip, which had me launched by 7:30 a.m. from the easily found and well-marked launch ramp just off Prong Pond Road, a short distance north of Beaver Cove.
Nary a soul was in sight as I headed east, noting the large number of pulled-out skiffs and canoes secured near the launch area, suggesting to me that lots of fishermen knew something about the pond that I had yet to learn.
Heading down the northeast shore into the morning sun, I began what turned out to be a nearly nine-mile exploration of the perimeter of the pond as a result of the unique configuration consisting of several long and narrow arms, or prongs – hence the name.
The rocky shoreline and occasional outcropping of rocks right in the water made for an interesting paddle, enhanced by the stands of cedar, pine, spruce, birch and hemlock.
On one of the arms, an abundance of pitcher plants stood in stately array, and red sundew leaves provided a beautiful contrast. On the pleasant paddle down Beaver Creek to a point within only a few yards of the Lilly Bay Road, I even spotted several rose begonias, Maine’s own orchid.
My half-day excursion proved again to me that in every corner of Maine there lie unexplored treasures just waiting for us to explore, whether it’s on the water in a canoe or kayak, or right from the window of your car.
To make the most of a trip to majestic Moosehead Lake country, I’d suggest an overnight or two at Lily Bay State Park, a real jewel in an outstanding collection of nearly 40 parks managed by the state’s Bureau of Parks and Lands.
Twelve of them, along with the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, provide camping facilities, not to mention the abundance of remote sites available in the Public Lands. Camden Hills State Park and Sebago Lake State Park have hookups for trailers and RVs.
Lily Bay consists of two campgrounds offering 90 sites, several right on the water’s edge, that are sufficiently well-spaced that you’ll seldom feel the presence of neighbors. Two boat launches and a swimming area take full advantage of the park’s location on Maine’s largest lake, the shoreline of which can be explored on a lakeside hiking trail.
As an aside, if you want to plan a winter visit, there’s no camping available but the access road is kept plowed all the way to the reception booth, and staff grooms about five miles of cross-country skiing trails.
Back in 1990, Mount Kineo State Park was established on a 1,798-foot promontory that dominates a western corner of the lake, and is visible from Greenville and the surrounding area. Accessible only by boat, the cliff on the east side rising over 700 feet from the lake’s surface is a not-to-be-forgotten sight.
Perhaps the best way to view Kineo, if you don’t have your own watercraft, is to take the popular 41/2-hour cruise on the MV Mt. Katahdin, leaving shortly after noon on select Wednesdays from July to October. For other Moosehead views, there’s a three-hour cruise Tuesdays through Saturdays. Schedules are at www.katahdincruises.com.
John Christie is a former ski racer and ski area manager and owner, a ski historian and member of the Maine Ski Hall of Fame. He and his son, Josh, write columns on alternating weeks. He can be reached at: