In early fall we always seek out a popular summer venue to check out after the busy tourist season is over. We recently enjoyed a four-hour outing on Little Sebago in North Windham, poking about the many islands in the middle portion of the lake.

As we headed out from the public boat launch we were initially dismayed by the line of cottages strung along each shoreline. Then we refocused on the natural beauty and wildlife. Mallards and loons were everywhere, coupled with chattering kingfishers, blue herons, sandpipers, cormorants, and a pair of bald eagles. Massive white pines towered over the water, mixing with tight clusters of birch radiating their brilliant whites out from the emerald green wall of evergreens and maples.

Before heading north to the islands of Middle Bay we paddled a mile south to check out the Lower Narrows. This skinny passageway between the big lake and Hunger Bay is striking with its mound of pure white sand on one side and dainty sandbar on the other side.

Two red pines lean out over the water, providing momentary cooling shade and a chance for some up-close photography of the delicate weathered gray pine cones sticking out over the water Christine Wolfe photo

Twenty minutes later we were rounding Hall Point and closing in on the cluster of islands ahead of us. As we rounded the point we noticed a large log cabin lodge under the pines, and the shore dotted with a few newly constructed small cabins. They looked so inviting. The aroma of the pines was intoxicating. Loon calls echoed toward shore. It was the timeless Maine lake setting. This little slice of paradise was the former site of the historic Aimhi Lodge, now privately redeveloped. Aimhi began in 1919 as a summer retreat for Harvard University students to get away from the academic stress of Cambridge. Did the name encourage those students to “Aim High” in life?

Just to the north lies Horse Island. This large island was last lumbered in the 1920s so the massive red and white pines on the densely forested island are nearly 100 years old. We enjoyed paddling under two red pines leaning out over the water, providing momentary cooling shade. My wife loves close up photography and kept busy taking pictures of the delicate weathered gray pine cones sticking out over the water.

The Toothbrush Islands are among the many small islands dotting Little Sebago. Christine Wolfe photo

A line of tiny islets stretched north leading away from Horse. A few wind-sculpted trees hung on for dear life on each islet. The daughter of a local cottage owner kayaked over and asked us how we were enjoying the Toothbrush Islands. We asked her how they got that name. She told us that the straight line of islands, combined with the bristle-like appearance of each islet, make the group look like the bristles on a toothbrush. It was the perfect name.

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We had a grand time checking out each islet and some of the larger adjacent islands. We paddled around them once, reversed direction and circled the opposite way, then wound in and out between them. The tiny cottages on the larger islands were classic; hovering at or slightly out over the water, now boarded up for the winter. How many loon calls had drifted in through those windows over the years? How many Red Sox games had been listened to on an ancient radio? We felt as if we were paddling in a time warp far off on a northern Maine lake. Despite the many camps and homes, Little Sebago does indeed have a wild and beautiful side.

A boat launch is located on the southwestern side of Little Sebago Christine Wolfe photo

Consult the Delorme Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (map No. 5) for help in getting to the boat launch on the southwestern side of the lake. Follow Anglers Road 1.5 miles northeast from Route 302 in North Windham. The road starts out paved then turns to gravel in a few hundred yards.

All the land and islands on the lake are privately owned so to respect the rights of the landowners we stayed in our canoe except stopping to rest on a few exposed ledges along the shoreline. There is a portable restroom at the boat launch.

Even after Labor Day you will encounter a few weekend boaters, but stick along the eastern shoreline and you will remain far from other boats. The Little Sebago Lake Association is doing Herculean work in educating boaters, and mitigating the growth of invasive milfoil in the lake. For information on their many important projects check out their website.

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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