April and May are great months for paddling – no bugs, no people, no humidity, and plenty of returning wildlife and emerging plant life to enjoy. We recently enjoyed our first extended paddle of the season, exploring the length of Pitcher and Knight ponds in Northport, covering 10 leisurely miles over a four-hour period.

Pitcher Pond is a shallow, narrow pond running in a northwesterly-southeasterly direction. It can be a windy place, so select a relatively calm day and try to get an early start. The pond connects to Knight Pond by a mile-long channel through a beautiful marsh.

There are numerous cottages along the western shoreline of Pitcher Pond, with less development found along the eastern shoreline. Knight Pond is totally wild, without any cottages along the shoreline. You could believe you’re in the heart of the Allagash while exploring the Knight Pond perimeter.

The Pitcher Pond boat launch site spills into a protected cove leading a few hundred yards to open water. We explored to the left around the northwestern end of the pond before heading east toward the distinctive conical profile of Ducktrap Mountain, towering 500 feet above Knight Pond. There are a few islands dotting the pond, each with an array of distinctively shaped granite boulders and colorful rocks extending out from their shorelines.

Many ridgelines and hillsides rise from the pond, one dotted with an open swath of blueberry barrens, shimmering red in the morning sun. Common mergansers welcomed us into every cove along the eastern shoreline, and newly arriving spotted sandpipers flitted from rock to rock. We heard our first haunting loon call of the spring echoing from shore to shore.

The channel snaking into Knight Pond winds through a savannah of twisted dwarf cedars and spruce. We felt we were paddling through an outdoor bonsai garden.

A pair of nesting Canada geese sat in the dried grasses near the water, only their black and white heads appearing out of the windswept grass. We got our binoculars and watched them feed in a muddy area near the water. The male was pretty fastidious about the whole thing, but the female busily plowed into the mud looking for the fresh green shoots of spring.

Along the western shoreline of Knight Pond, many painted turtles rested in the sun at water’s edge trying to warm up. It has been a long winter and they were extremely lethargic, and allowed us to paddle within feet of them without plopping back into the water.

The Wyman Park boat launch area at the eastern end of Knight Pond is a peaceful spot complete with sandy beach and picnic grove. It was hard for us to believe while standing on the beach looking out over the wilderness expanse of Knight Pond that we were only 1.5 miles from Penobscot Bay, one of the great saltwater cruising grounds in the world.

As we headed back across the pond toward the channel leading into Pitcher Pond, we were startled by a ferocious whir of wings and the gigantic white splash of an osprey diving into the water for a fish 50 yards away. As we entered Pitcher Pond, two cormorants clumsily danced with each other while trying to maintain footing on a tiny ledge top designed for only one. They gave up and headed up the lake.

Back at the launch site, we noticed that patches of yellow colts foot flowers had opened up in the warming sun, our first sighting of this early spring flower. Not wanting to leave for the drive home, we walked over to the dam and admired the ceaseless flow of silvery water cascading over the dam, under the road, and down through the sun-splashed woods toward the Ducktrap River. Glorious spring is here.

Consult the DeLorme Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (map #14) for help in getting to the Pitcher Pond boat launch site adjacent to the Kendall Brook outlet dam. It is located a half-mile down the North Cobbtown Road off Route 52 out of Lincolnville Center. It’s also possible to launch your canoe at the boat launch located at the eastern end of Knight Pond, accessed via the gravel Knights Pond Road.

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]