October is one of the most beautiful months to go paddling in Maine. Vibrant fall colors and migrating birds make for memorable outings.

Pocasset Lake and Pickerel Pond in Wayne provide two distinct experiences. Pocasset offers open water paddling and expansive views. Although the lake has many cottages along the shoreline, this time of year things are pretty quiet. Pickerel is connected to Pocasset and offers remote paddling along grass-ringed marshes, providing a cozy and serene setting.

Fall colors adorn the eastern side of Pocasset Lake, which offers open water paddling and expansive views. Michael Perry photo

There is no public boat access, but there is a small privately owned put-in spot on the west side of Pocasset where you can slide a canoe in and go exploring. We spent three sun-splashed hours poking about, coming upon countless kingfishers and blue herons in every small cove.

From the Pond Road we paddled across the southern end of Pocasset Lake to the eastern shoreline and followed it north up to the narrow entrance into Pickerel Pond near the northeastern end of the lake. To the north, the solitary profile of Oak Hill in Fayette rose out of the forest. The shoreline was a splash of reds and yellows accentuated against the green backdrop of towering white pines. We were astounded how clear the water was, the shallows along much of the shore revealing a firm sandy bottom. On a warm day you may encounter southerly breezes pushing you up the lake. On a cool fall day you will be refreshed by northwesterly breezes. There are plenty of small coves to help mitigate any wind.

In Pickerel Pond we took pictures of a blue heron standing still in the rustling grasses. Its slender gray neck and thin protruding beak reminded us of a cobra peering up out of the grass. We sat and watched the heron for a few minutes. It stood motionless waiting for us to pass. On the eastern end of the pond a vast marsh offered patches of twisted larch trees, their delicate needles just starting to turn yellow. Many ducks catapulted out of the grasses around us every few minutes.

On the eastern side of Pickerel Pond, a meandering channel leads for one mile up to the granite ruins of an old mill site in North Wayne. It is a peaceful paddle full of many photographic opportunities of taking pictures of foliage colors reflected in the still water. As we entered the channel five large Canada Geese appeared out of the grasses and paddled along the shore in front of us.

Back out on Pocasset Lake we headed across open water to the western shoreline and followed it back down to the put-in, passing by a series of scenic lakeside marshes. Along the way we heard loud piercing calls coming from the trees ahead of us. We finally spied the source of the racket – an immature bald eagle sitting on a small nest of sticks.

We caught a brief glimpse of Mt Pisgah in Winthrop, five miles to the southeast, topped by its fire tower. This popular four-mile round-trip hike offers impressive views of Mt Washington.

Consult the Delorme Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (map #12) for help in getting to the Pond Road in Wayne from Route 133. Follow the road north for about a mile. You will see the small gravel pullout on the right as the road nears the lake. You can lower your canoe down over a large downed pine tree trunk.

A blue heron was standing still in the rustling grasses in Pickerel Pond, waiting for paddling visitors to pass. Michael Perry photo

Be sure to check out the freshly baked goodies at the Wayne General Store on Route 133. They are noted for their anadama and multigrained breads and assortment of muffins and cinnamon rolls, plus sumptuous breakfast and lunch offerings.

There are a number of orchards in the area where you can pick your own or pick up a bag of tangy apples. Kents Hill Orchards in Kents Hill, Lakeside Orchards in Manchester and Chick’s in Monmouth are some of the larger ones.

Invasive species are an increasing challenge to all Maine waterways. The 30 Mile River Watershed Association does a great job helping maintain the water quality of the lakes and ponds in this rural area west of Augusta. They urge all paddlers to wash their canoes, kayaks and paddles at home before and after any outing on a new pond.

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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