Paddle under the shadow of Pleasant Mountain, enjoy a walk through a magnificent stand of white pine and observe a wide variety of waterfowl. It is all there in the serene northern portion of Moose Pond.

Put in at the boat launch on Route 302 on the eastern side of the Moose Pond Causeway. From here, paddle a half-mile along the causeway to the passageway leading into the upper portion of the pond. The island in the middle of the causeway is Sabbatus Island, and the town of Bridgton maintains a forested picnic area with tables and grills on it.

A walk along the woods road cutting down through the interior of the island is a must. The white pines are some of the larger ones you will see in Maine.

Back out on the pond, we left all the shoreline cottages behind and meandered among the many forested islands and tiny islets dotting the northern bay. Wood ducks and black ducks catapulted off the water at every turn. The female wood duck emits a telltale loud squeal as she flies up off the water.

Many females practice egg dumping during nesting season, often laying eggs in someone else’s nest to hatch and raise. Wood duck nests have been found with as many as 25 eggs in them!

A few red maples were starting to display their brilliant colors, but what truly caught our attention were the acres upon acres of fragrant waterlilies spread out before us as we neared the secluded northern coves. A few rogue yellow pond lilies managed to infiltrate the sea of fragrant white, as well as a few end-of-season purple stalks of pickerelweed.

Old tree stumps stuck up all around us, with purple asters, grasses and tiny tree seedlings sprouting up out of the decaying wood. A blue heron stood on one stump surveying our approach, and with a slow beat of wings easily lifted off to another stump. A flicker darted out from the edge of the woods, its white tail mark flashing as it headed into the nearby grasses.

To the south sat the elongated mass of Pleasant Mountain. Shawnee Peak’s ski trails rose up into a low canopy of clouds.

Students at Bridgton Academy cut the original trails on the mountain. A year later the Civilian Conservation Corps became involved in trail creation. Opening day was in January 1938, featuring a state-of-the-art 1,100-foot-long rope tow. We wondered what the original lift ticket price might have been?

If you paddle along the eastern shoreline south of the causeway, you will gain a completely different perspective of the mountain. From the evergreen-scented shoreline of Camp Winona you will enjoy a profile of the whole mountain and its 3-mile ridgeline towering 1,500 feet above the lake.

On a clear day, the summit cone of Mount Washington can be seen to the northwest.

The water south of the causeway is surprisingly clear for a pond that sees a lot of use during the summer. The water is still warm and makes for a great post-Labor Day swim.

Like any popular lake, invasive plant species such as milfoil are a persistent worry. A volunteer member of the Lakes Environmental Association was stationed at the launch site the Saturday we visited to educate boaters as to what we all can do to help maintain high water quality standards.

If you are too busy to visit Moose Pond in September, perhaps you can combine your outing with a visit to the Fryeburg Fair running Oct. 2-9. Paddling will be superb here right into November.

Plan for three hours and six miles of paddling to fully explore the shoreline north of the causeway.

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. Contact him at:

[email protected]