Despite the recent “one every century” late October snowstorm, there are still many fine paddling days to come this November. Frost and foliage have definitely replaced fiddleheads and ferns.

One of the outstanding locales to enjoy a pleasurable mid-November paddle is the confluence of the Pleasant and Presumpscot rivers in Windham. We spent three hours poking about early one Saturday, enjoying a blanket of creamy mist rising from the river to greet the sun just poking over the treetops along the shoreline.

We put in on the River Road just west of Route 202 in Windham at a spot just south of the bridge that spans the Pleasant River. There is ample room to park off the western side of the road. A narrow pathway leads a few yards down to the river.

Cattails and alders lined the twisting channel as we paddled the mile out to the Presumpscot River, passing a number of wood duck nesting boxes. Ten Canada geese paddled into the low mist ahead of us and disappeared. Our hearts jumped as a flock of mallards erupted out of the reeds on our left at the mouth of the river and circled out over the Presumpscot. A few hardy wood ducks, yet to make their way to warmer climes, whistled by us on our right. We stopped to marvel at a solitary male mallard sitting in the mists, its green satiny head brilliant in the morning sun.

We headed up river a mile to the Babb covered bridge, making easy progress against a steady current. The reflections in the crystal-clear water were dazzling, the colors somehow even more radiant in the water than on the shoreline. Yellow and green oak leaves, gray maple tree trunks, dense pods of red winterberries, shiny green islands of arrowhead, brown cattail pods, and dainty hemlock needles and cones all vied for our attention. Our binoculars and camera made countless trips to bow and stern.

At one time there were 120 covered bridges in Maine. The Babb covered bridge, circa 1840, is one of the nine covered bridges still left in Maine. Destroyed by arsonists in 1973, it was rebuilt and rededicated on our nation’s bicentennial, July 4, 1976.

From the bridge it is a delightful mile and a half paddle up river to the rushing waters of Dundee Falls just below Dundee Pond. This is the turnaround point. From here you really will enjoy that persistent current whisking you down under the covered bridge and beyond. The river twists back and forth, and with high water from a wet October it is easy to get out and relax in the sun at river’s edge. A white sign on the right marks the 20-acre Cummings Preserve, managed by the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust.

Floating logs along the shoreline were painted with a shimmering white stripe of heavy frost. Only a month ago those logs would have hosted painted turtles basking in the sun.

A pine forested island in the middle of the river marks the entrance back into the Pleasant River on the left. We decided to postpone the yard chores a bit longer and explored a mile up the Pleasant River beyond the River Road bridge. After 15 minutes of serene paddling we came to a snag of downed trees across the river and turned around. This can be easily portaged around, but more stoppages surely must await as the river rapidly narrows and becomes more shallow.

Paddling this time of year can be very comfortable, given warm layers of clothing, a thermos of hot tea or soup at the ready, and paddling gloves that provide sure grip and warmth for your hands. The November sun stills packs a punch, so plan a day of covered bridge discovery on the Windham-Gorham border before our second snowstorm arrives.

Consult the Delorme Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (map No. 5) for help in getting to the River Road. The put-in is 1.5 miles up the road from Route 202 in South Windham.

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]