With the ice off of Maine’s lakes and rivers, it’s time to trade in skis and snowboards for canoes and kayaks.

With the new book “Paddling Southern Maine” (Mountaineers Books, $19.95), written by longtime kayakers Sandy Moore and Kimberlee Bennett, Mainers will be well equipped to explore the lakes, rivers, and protected saltwater of the state’s southern end.

The slim guidebook, published in April, details more than fifty day trips for paddlers, almost all within an hour’s drive of Portland. For each trip, the authors lay out information on the route, including directions, parking and launch-site details, a summary of the route and a map. Of particular note is that none of the trips include shuttling or portaging, meaning you’ll be spending all your time on each of these day trips on the water.

The authors answered some questions about how they came to write the book, what makes southern Maine a great kayaking destination and their favorite trips.

Bennett has been writing about kayaking for six years on her blog Kayaking in Maine and researching places to paddle in Maine while exploring the southern part of the state. At the same time, Moore was starting work on a paddling guide book, finding a demand among her fellow kayakers. “Anytime I was at a put-in or even a Hannaford parking lot with a kayak on my car, people would ask me for suggestions of where to paddle in the area. It was clear that a guide was needed for this part of the state.”

In her research, Moore kept stumbling upon posts on Bennett’s blog, and the two decided to join forces. A book proposal went to publishers in 2014, and in 2015 work started on the book in earnest.


With so many destinations throughout the state for paddling, why the focus on the southern part of the state? Bennett notes that, as Portland is becoming more and more a travel destination, the trips in the book provide locals and visitors a way to get away from crowds and explore the ecological diversity within just an hour of the city.

“Some are tidal, some are in very protected areas, and some are wide-open lakes, this allows people to choose the perfect destination on any given day,” she said. “Many of our destinations share some characteristics like tall pine trees or sun-bathing turtles, but each place is unique and offers a different experience.”

While the book isn’t aimed specifically at beginners – it’s suitable for all skill levels – both authors stress the importance of having a sound knowledge of safety, technique, and your own skill level. To this point, the first thirty pages of the book are devoted to information on paddling fundamentals – a nice inclusion when many guide books just jump to the trip information.

“Safety first,” Moore warns. “With every season comes the news stories of a kayaker becoming stranded or worse.”

When pressed, neither author would cop to a favorite trip in the book. As is the case with most outdoor adventures, it’s a matter that’s dependent on place, time, weather and mood. For hot, steamy days, Bennett pointed to Little Sebago, where there are places to pop out of her kayak for a swim. For windy days, on the other hand, the Tenny River allows time on the water with protection from the weather. For beginners, Presumpscot North and Runaround Pond are strong recommendations.

For me, the Royal River in Yarmouth (Trip 22 in the book) is a favorite. Putting in at the Yarmouth History Center on Route 115, paddlers have a 6-mile trip north to Route 9 before turning around. While you’re technically headed upstream for the first half of the trip, most days it’s an easy trip on relatively still water. It’s a relaxed introduction to river paddling, with only sparse development distracting from the bucolic river. It’s also a popular route, so expect to share the Royal River with folks on paddleboards, inner tubes and other floating conveyances.

It’s important to both the authors that Paddling Southern Maine promotes paddling sports for all, particularly those that may not have easy access to recreation. To that end, they have shared their work with groups like Maine Adaptive Sports & Recreation as well as Teens to Trails, a non-profit dedicated to increasing the opportunities for teens to experience the outdoors through the systematic creation of and support for high school outing clubs. A portion of the proceeds at the launch party for Paddling Southern Maine (May 18 at Portland Pie in Brunswick, 5-8 p.m.) will be donated to Maine Adaptive, and the authors hope to have a similar event benefiting Teens to Trails.

Josh Christie is a freelance writer living in Portland. Along with his brother, Jake, he writes about great Maine destinations for outdoors enthusiasts. Josh can be reached at:


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: