While never specifically found in print, it’s often claimed that National Geographic magazine once included Kezar Lake in its list of Three Most Beautiful Lakes in the World.

After a magical three-hour exploration of the Upper Bay of Kezar Lake we concluded that the honor would have been deserved. If you love mountains, you have them. Love marsh exploration and birdlife – got that too. Add in crystal-clear water to a shoreline ringed by massive white and red pines, pocketed with rugged cliffs and uniquely shaped boulders, and you have the makings of a special day on the water.

Although Kezar Lake is a large lake, nine miles long, with a maximum depth of 155 feet, Upper Bay has a cozy, comforting feeling. Although there are a number of cottages dotting the lake, there are large tracts of wild shoreline, secluded coves and interesting marshes.

From the boat launch we headed out along the western shoreline toward a group of forested islands in the middle of the bay. We quickly spotted the bold flanks of the Baldfaces up in Evans Notch, and in the foreground an undulating line of ridges and summits from Deer Hill north to Miles Notch.

The northwestern marsh features a bounty of botany. Buttonbush seedpods were turning brown from their summer green. Along the northernmost edge of the marsh we picked cranberries for our Sunday morning pancakes. Fragrant white water lilies emerged out of the mats of browning pickerelweed leaves near the edge of the marsh.

Up ahead a large, man-made floating loon platform sat at rest, having provided a safe nesting spot for another pair of loons this past summer. A blue heron circled the marsh, quickly followed by a wood duck erupting out of the grasses and flying low over the marsh to a more secluded spot.

A conspicuous granite ledge rises up over the marsh a quarter-mile to the south. A secluded winding channel of water can be followed a half-mile to the northwest before downed trees impede further travel. Along the way the channel opens into a shallow lagoon notable for its artistically designed strands of sand borne each spring from alpine heights by floodwaters from melting snows. Upstream maples leaned out over the water, some already showing their emerging red colors of autumn. The cool shadows felt wonderful. Bird calls echoed throughout the understory.

After the warmest August on record, many of us are welcoming the cooler mornings and evenings of September. The good news is Kezar Lake waters still retain their summer warmth, making the swimming as fine as it gets. A large rocky outcropping at the end of a peninsula jutting out into the southern end of Upper Bay made for a great spot to swim and soak up the sun. It also offered panoramic views far down the lake with midday clouds forming over the mountains to the west all reflected in the mirror-still water.

Paddling around the point we left Upper Bay for a few minutes and drifted by a 25-foot high overhanging cliff marked with vertical stains, topped with a solitary sentinel red pine looking down over the cove. It very much looked like one of the spectacular cliffs seen along Lake Superior’s Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. As we circled around the cove to head back north we gazed east to the humped profile of Sabattus Mountain. We even caught glimpses of Pleasant Mountain, 15 miles to the south.

By midday a few kayakers were exploring and a water skier flashed by in the deeper water. We exchanged pleasantries with a young fellow standing up and casting out of his canoe for bass. We each rejoiced in the beautiful late summer weather and magnificent scenery. He succinctly summed up all our feelings with, “Now, where do I work?” Yes, you can leave all your worries behind.

Consult the Delorme Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (map #10) for help in getting to the boat launch site. From Route 5 in Lovell turn west onto the West Stoneham Road and follow for a half-mile. Turn left onto the Lovell Landing Road and follow it down to the boat launch.

The beauty of Kezar Lake has attracted famous people from a broad spectrum of American society over the years, including crooner Rudy Vallee, novelist Stephen King, portrait painter Douglas Volk and the president of the Diamond Match company, William Fairburn. And then there’s Don Dickerman, owner of popular nightclubs coast to coast in the 1930s, a self-proclaimed pirate married 13 times – once for two hours. Add yourself to the list of visitors dazzled by the lure of Kezar.

Michael Perry is the former director of the L.L.Bean Outdoor Discovery Schools, and founder of Dreams Unlimited, specializing in inspiring outdoor slide programs for civic groups, businesses, and schools. Contact:

[email protected]