Sometimes common is breathtakingly uncommon. That certainly is the case with Round Pond in Union. It might be one of the most used lake names in Maine, but it provides an end-of-summer getaway.

We recently spent three hours poking about the pond and the adjoining St. George River from our start at the Union Boat Launch at Ayer Park at the northern end of Seven Tree Pond. From there, paddle south a few yards and head west a mile up the St. George River to Round Pond. You will note a slight current under the Route 235 bridge.

It didn’t take long to see wildlife along the fragrant water lily lined shoreline. Nearly every log in the river had painted turtles. One log protruding up out of the water had five turtles tightly lined up in a column. We looked above the trees on our left and spied two bald eagles circling.

One nice thing about a September paddle is you have many summer flowers still in bloom, now mixing with a splash of emerging fall colors. The delicate spikes of brilliant red cardinal flowers dot the shoreline of river and pond, mixing with the oranges and pinks of jewelweed. Many patches of pickerelweed still had remnants of their telltale purple spikes showing. Buttonbush seedpods were in various stages of development, from the marble-sized light brown round balls of young bushes to the fuzzy white orbs of mature bushes.

The water is at its height of warmth, making for good swimming along the shoreline of Round Pond. Water levels are low, so there’s no shortage of landing spots. On the eastern shoreline a quarter-mile south of the entrance, look for a large smooth sloped ledge with a picnic table at the top – a perfect spot to soak up the sun, swim, and check out the pastoral landscapes west and north of the pond. The patches of mown pastures, mixed with farmhouses and barns on rolling hills and ridges, reminded us of the coulee country of southwestern Wisconsin.

Artistic swales of marsh grasses line the northern end of the pond. They swayed hypnotically in the warm afternoon breeze. Their golden brown tips mixed naturally with the greens of distant hills and the hazy blue summer sky. Through these grasses emerges the St. George River on its 57-mile flow to the sea from Liberty to the north.

The river is narrow and comfortably confining, as berry-laden bushes and tall grasses give way to evergreens and old oaks. After a few minutes of paddling, you will see buildings and open expanses through the trees. This is the Union Fairgrounds.

You will soon come to a walking bridge spanning the river adjacent to the fairground racetrack. We got out on the muddy western banking and scrambled up to the bridge. The field to the west provides overflow parking for fairground events, and the bridge allows walking access over to the grounds.

We walked across the bridge to a large grandstand and sat down on the polished wooden benches. We wondered how many squeals of delight had been uttered here over the years, as long summer nights morphed into sweater-clad evenings nearing Labor Day. For many families, years turned into decades faster than any could imagine. The first Union Fair was held in 1869 at another nearby location.

We replaced motionless nostalgia with renewed paddling energy and retraced our route back to Seven Tree Pond. Not wanting a perfect afternoon to end, we dallied about the northern end of Seven Tree stopping for a quick swim in the vast reed-lined shallows. A solitary boulder provided the perfect foreground for a picture of Barrett Hill to the north.

Consult the DeLorme Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (map #14) for help in getting to the boat launch on Route 235. After your outing, be sure to drive up to the Common Road to check out the beautiful Federal-style Ebenezer Alden home built in 1798. A direct descendant of John and Priscilla Alden, he helped build the original Montpelier mansion in Thomaston for General Henry Knox.

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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