We are going to give you a break and use up most of our adjectives describing an outing on remote Mount Blue Pond in Avon right here in the beginning: beautiful, stunning, peaceful, rejuvenating. Yes, this small pond nestled down below the northern flanks of Mount Blue is one of the great paddling venues in western Maine. It does not take long to be dazzled. Right from the put-in spot you look straight across at the profile of Mount Blue, stretching 2,000 vertical feet above the pond.  If you are really ambitious, a few hours later you can drive around to Weld and hike the 1.9-mile trail to the top from Mount Blue State Park and gaze from the observation tower to the gem you’re getting ready to explore.

We spent a leisurely 2 1/2 hours meandering along the shore in a clockwise direction. You will see a few canoes stashed in the woods and a few rustic docks, but for the most part this 140-acre pond is unfettered wilderness.  The pond is shallow and the last glacier left its mark. We carefully negotiated through boulder gardens and rocky shallows, passing around two small forested islets. Three loons called and frolicked in the middle of the pond. A kingfisher swooped out of a tree and headed to deeper water just ahead of us. As we rounded the eastern cove and paddled into the shadows of Mount Blue, we spied the long ridgeline of Saddleback to the northwest.

As we headed westward we started to see another impressive mass emerging out of the forest 12 miles to our north. We got the binoculars out and scanned the heights, impressed with the raw expanse of above treeline topography that Mount Abraham features. A paddle on Mount Blue Pond is akin to entering Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg’s  “Hall of the Mountain King.” Mountains are everywhere, near and far. Remember those adjectives in the first sentence? Insert here.

It was time for a swim. We passed by a blue heron standing in the grasses along the northern shoreline and started to look for a landing spot before getting back in sight of the put-in. There was no obvious spot so we just pulled in to shore, got out in the shallow water and worked together to pull the canoe into the trees. A large boulder provided a spot to sit and soak in the sun, and watch the breeze play with the blue water 30 yards from the protected shoreline. We carefully got down into the water on all fours and pushed off from the rocky shallows to deeper water. It was a delight hopping in slow motion from underwater boulder to underwater boulder, then springing off to another. We found a few we could sit neck deep on and enjoy the clouds running over the summit of Mount Blue. We had selected the perfect summer day and the perfect spot to enjoy it.

Consult the Delorme Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (map #19) for help in getting to the put-in site. Follow the mostly gravel Mount Blue Pond Road south for 2.5 miles from Route 4 in Avon.  You will come to a snowplow turnaround spot on the right just before a yellow sign on a tree stating, “Closed for Winter Maintenance.” Park here and carry your boat the 100 yards down a shaded lane to the water.  The generosity of private landowners allows this to be used as a put-in. The Mount Blue Pond Road sign on Route 4 is bent and hard to see. We passed right by it on our first try. If you come to the town of Phillips, you’ve gone too far.

The afternoon was young so we drove 12 miles west on Route 4 to enjoy an hour at Smalls Falls watching youngsters swimming in the deep pools of water, and taking lots of pictures of the series of falls cutting through the narrow canyon. We ended the day with a stop in Phillips and walked across the bridge over the Sandy River to marvel at the vast array of potholes, and polished ledges and rocks created by thousands of years of rushing water.

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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