June 5, 2011

Canoeing: Lots to explore on Cobbosseecontee Lake


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Ladies Delight Lighthouse sits on a ledge outcropping a mile south of the Cobbosseecontee Lake launch site just off Route 202 in East Winthrop.

Contributed photos

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A boulder is reflected in Cobbosseecontee Lake near Hersey Island. The island is home to a huge osprey nest.

Just south of Belle Island sits a striking 50-yard long ledge. The polished granite has "snooze in the sun" written all over it, and we did. When the water warms up, this just might be one of the best places to swim in the whole lake. You are surrounded by forested islands with only the occasional rustic cottage poking out of dense stands of white cedar along the shorelines. It was hard to believe there really was a big lake out there beyond our little cocoon of paradise.

We paddled over to the southwestern tip of Belle Island to see if we could find the ruins of the Belle Island Lighthouse that stood watch over the western side of the reef from 1916 to 1938 before it was heavily damaged by the 1938 hurricane. A jumble of cut stones at water's edge marked the spot.

Perry Island sits a half-mile southwest of Belle Island. It is the largest undeveloped island in the lake and one of the true gems of the many conservation projects undertaken by the Kennebec Land Trust since 1988. We landed on a small sandy pocket cove on the western side and enjoyed poking about the shadowy forest floor, with the sound of loon calls infiltrating the dense green canopy. We found a huge white birch 7 feet in circumference a few yards from our landing spot. Nearby are other beautiful KLT holdings: tiny Mosquito Island, four parcels on Horseshoe Island and the southern end of Hodgdon Island. Five hours of exploring were not nearly enough time to visit all the islands -- we will be back!

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. He can be contacted at:



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