If you enjoy towering pines, both red and white, head to Hancock Pond in the towns of Sebago and Denmark.

We recently enjoyed a four-hour circumnavigation of the hourglass-shaped pond; dipping in and out of secluded coves, marveling at the long ridgeline of Pleasant Mountain 7 miles to the northwest, peering westward for glimpses of the Presidential Range in New Hampshire. A trio of loons yipped and yodeled out in the middle of the pond. Kingfishers flew from tree to tree along the shoreline. Seven juvenile red-breasted mergansers catapulted into the air near a patch of vibrant green marsh grasses.

On the eastern side of Hancock Pond sits a tall angular boulder about 20 feet out from shore, though it’s tough to explain how it ended up with its sharp point reaching skyward as opposed to having been deposited on its side.

We were blessed with a perfect October day; 60-degree temperatures, mirror calm waters, deep blue sky. To swim or not to swim; the options are many as much of the pond is lined with a thin ribbon of golden sand and glacial cobble. Add in the large boulders at water’s edge and it was obvious that the Laurentide Ice Sheet had left a lasting mark at Hancock Pond. In the still water the reflections were mesmerizing, proving yet again that nature is indeed the greatest artist. On the eastern side of the pond a tall angular boulder, 20 feet out from shore, caught our eye. How had it ended up with its sharp point reaching skyward as opposed to having been deposited on its side?

With all the pine trees towering over the pond it was only a matter of time before we heard the call of a bald eagle. Twenty minutes later we spotted it sitting on a branch gazing down at us. Another pine held a large osprey nest, awaiting its occupants to return next April. Pileated woodpecker calls echoed through the forested slopes.

A bald eagle is perched in a white pine high above Hancock Pond, keeping an eye on all the action below. Christine Wolfe photo

There are a number of cottage communities scattered along the shoreline, but much of the pond is undeveloped. The water is clear, allowing you to see any boulders waiting for you just under the water’s surface. We scraped over a few.

At the southwestern end of the pond Cooper’s Cove provides a quiet spot to sit in your canoe and gaze back up the blue expanse of water to your launch site 2 miles to the north. The renovated wooden dam controls the outflow of water into Hancock Brook where it begins a circuitous 7-mile journey west to the Saco River.


A number of forested hills and uniquely shaped hummocks surround the pond. One bell-shaped hummock to the north had a home near its top looking westward. We wondered, do they have a scope on their deck trained toward Mount Washington? We imagined their excitement in another week when they wake up in the morning and see the first snows of the season covering the summit cone.

As we headed back up along the western shoreline we had a choice to make, one based on the time and the number of chores waiting at home. A mile up from Cooper’s Cove a wide, shallow channel leads up into Sand Pond, also known as Walden Pond. The only two islands on Hancock are near the channel entrance. We paddled a few hundred yards up into Sand Pond. It was enticing, but we decided to leave it for another day of exploration.

Consult the DeLorme Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (map No. 4) for help in getting to the local boat launch at the northeastern end of the pond via the Hancock Pond Road, which connects Route 107 in Sebago with Route 117 in Denmark. The launch site serves as the town water replenishment fire lane, so after unloading your canoe park back up on the road near a group of gray metal mailboxes.

We enjoy creating a little bit of an adventure (no, not a flat tire type of adventure) on our drives to and from our paddling venues. This usually involves creating a scenic loop. This time we circled Sebago Lake. We are always on the lookout for unique library architecture and one-room schoolhouses. Check out the eye-catching stonework of the Spaulding Library on Route 114 in East Sebago, and the public library in Naples housed in the historic 1908 Locust House on Route 302.

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: michaelj_perry@comcast.net

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