Everyone loves a good David and Goliath story. We found one during our three-hour exploration of Plymouth Pond on a recent Sunday afternoon.

A large blue heron lifted off its perch in the nearby marsh grasses and was immediately escorted out of the area by two very determined red-winged blackbirds. One bird harassed the heron from the back while the other flew circles around the front of the bigger bird. What they lacked in size they made up for with determination and effort.

The heron just looked straight ahead and slowly beat its massive wings toward what it must have hoped would be calmer skies ahead.

Later on, we would spy a bald eagle perched in a pine tree with yet another vigilant red-winged blackbird sitting on a branch 10 feet above it. We could only imagine what the blackbird might be thinking, “Okay, big fella, make the wrong move and I’ll make your afternoon miserable.” The eagle did not flinch an inch as we paddled past it.

Plymouth Pond is part of the vast Sebasticook River drainage, the Kennebec River’s largest watershed. The 480-acre pond was created in the early 1800s by the damming of Martin Stream in the village of Plymouth, on the western side of the pond.

This peaceful town was once a bustling manufacturing center with two hotels and eight stores. Plymouth specialized in the manufacture of cloth, lumber, furniture, leather and carriages.

Things have slowed down a bit over the years. Today, there’s one market, the Village Store, renowned for Tammy’s whoopie pies and chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting. Yes, the floors are wooden, and do creak as you search the aisles for goodies.

The pond is a bit unusual, in that Route 7 slices through its western edge over a 3,000-foot causeway. The boat launch site is at the southern end of the causeway.

On a warm, sunny day families gather here to picnic, swim and socialize. There is a very peaceful vibe here, despite the traffic going by.

If you paddle over to the northern side of the pond and follow the shoreline toward the eastern side, you will eventually leave the sounds of traffic behind and enter a beautiful world of forest and marsh.

Pickerelweed and lily pads line the shore. As you head down the pond, you will see the rounded mass of Peaked Mountain 6 miles to the east, with its tall communications towers straddling the summit ridgeline.

Eventually, the pond narrows into a secluded ribbon of water that leads 2 miles down to the Loud Road bridge, just over the Dixmont town line. You can continue 100 yards beyond the bridge before encountering a large, freshly fallen maple that blocks the way.

This waterway is lined with cedars and alders. Many majestic silver maples lean far out over the stream.

Given the quiet and seclusion, you will think you have been magically transported 130 miles due north to the riverine kingdom of the Allagash’s Michaud Farm. Or maybe the black water and overhanging trees will have you thinking about someday paddling into the Great Dismal Swamp of Virginia.

Melodic calls of mourning doves mixed with the unmistakable cacophonous calls of the pileated woodpecker. We pulled in next to the shoreline to closely examine the delicate white flowers of arrowhead. Their potato-like tubers were harvested in the fall by native peoples as an important winter food source.

Forty-five minutes later we were back out into the open waters of the pond. A number of eastern kingbirds flitted up out of the brush and landed on the tops of small trees nearby, their white chests glistening in the sun. We hugged the southern shore and headed back to the boat launch site, once again reunited with Route 7 traffic sounds.

Three loons sat still as statues a few yards to our right, then on a whim thrust upward and flapped their wings, all the while puffing out their brilliant, snow-white chests. The theme of the hour seemed to be white-bellied birds, as migrating tree swallows darted overhead in search of what few insects were still left over after a summer of gorging.

After we loaded the canoe on our vehicle and enjoyed the antics of local kids frolicking in the pond, we started the trek home, stopping in Pittsfield to admire some of its historic buildings.

The Pittsfield Historical Society is in the old train station building. Next door sits the very impressive Pittsfield Library, built in 1903 with the help of Andrew Carnegie Foundation funding. The interior of the central dome features a stunning mural painted by Maine humorist Tim Sample.

The great thing about a canoe outing in Maine is that the exploration doesn’t end when you leave the canoe. There are always new roads and routes to explore on the drive to and from home.

To get to Plymouth Pond from the Pittsfield area, follow Route 69 east for 11 miles, passing through the town of Detroit. The DeLorme Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 22 provides help in getting there.

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. He can be contacted at:

[email protected]