Clouds reflect on the water in the widest portion of the northwestern arm of Sebasticook Lake in Newport. Christine Wolfe photo

Last July, we paddled one of the remote arms of Sebasticook Lake in Newport, knowing as we headed home that we had left the northwestern arm unexplored. We vowed to come back the same time this year and check it out.

Consult the DeLorme Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (map #22) for help in getting to the area. Follow Routes 7 and 11 about 4 miles north of the Newport Hannaford. Turn right onto County Road and travel 1.5 miles east to the primitive boat launch just before a short bridge over the mouth of the northwestern arm of the lake.

It was a humid day with temperatures in the mid-80s when we arrived at the boat launch just after noon. A swim was the first priority. Exploring the arm of the lake would have to wait a bit. We decided to head south down a scenic channel out into the expanse of Sebasticook Lake. A low, tree-lined peninsula a mile ahead looked promising.

As we rounded the point for a peek around the corner, we noticed an eyebrow-shaped arc of small stones created by prevailing seasonal southerly winds. A tongue of gravel just under the exposed arc made a fine landing spot and a handy platform to swim from. After our plunge, we started examining the small rocks transported here over the years. Under the lens of the clear water, they pulsated with a vibrant kaleidoscope of colors.

A mature bald eagle surveys the landscape at Sebasticook Lake. Christine Wolfe photo

Hugging the eastern shoreline on the way back, we spied a mature bald eagle in a white pine staring down at us. It’s white head shown brilliantly against a pocket of deep blue sky framed by cumulus clouds morphing into billowing thunderheads to our east.

We paddled under the low bridge into the northwestern arm. If water levels are too high, you may not be able to paddle under the bridge. If so, land back at the boat launch and carry your canoe over the road. The boat access point on the north side of the road is just a steep trampled banking. Nimbleness is a skill needed here to get into your canoe while still maintaining a smile.

A deep blue winding ribbon of water led north into a large savannah-like marsh. Distant rectangles of green sat on the water: little islands of dense 3-foot high carpets of cattails and reeds. An eagle flew low over the water to our left. We wondered if it was the same one we had seen an hour before down on the lake. A blue heron then appeared on the same flight path as the departed eagle. Two cormorants headed in the opposite direction on our right toward the open waters of the lake.

A mile south of the boat launch is a sandy gravel beach for swimming. Christine Wolfe photo

As the channel narrowed to a thin ribbon of water through a maze of green marsh grasses and cattails, we came to a snag of trees over the stream. It was time to turn around. On the way back, we were mesmerized by the reflection of the cloud-dotted sky in the mirror calm water. It was as if we were paddling in the clouds. As the midafternoon cumulus towered upward into impressive columns of mushroom, the same scene was repeated in front of our bow.

Blue flag iris along the shoreline at Sebasticook Lake. Christine Wolfe photo

We sat in the canoe and enjoyed the quiet. There were no homes or cottages anywhere within sight. We were the only humans in the arm. How lucky to find a place of solitude and beauty at the height of summer so close to I-95 and the busy Moosehead Trail highway leading north to Greenville.

Back at the boat launch, we chatted with an avid fisherman trying his luck from the bridge. He told us that this arm of the lake had produced the largest largemouth bass ever caught in Sebasticook. We thought he said 19.2 pounds, which seemed astounding to us. When we got home, we looked up some information and found that the Maine record is 11 pounds. Maybe we misheard him. Maybe he said 9.2 pounds, or maybe he was the classic “fish gets bigger every year” storyteller.  Regardless, if you fish, this lake is the place for bass. Be sure to bring a canoe big enough to land your trophy.

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]


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