Friday, June 14, 2024

Maine Guide paddles way through Lakes Region

By Abby Wilson

It’s no secret that the Lakes Region of Maine is ideal for recreation, especially kayaking, canoeing, and boating. Mainers and visitors are encouraged to utilize the clean waters of lakes and rivers in the summer. But what are the best ways to access these locations, and who can you ask for guidance?

Registered Maine Guide Bill Allen leads a kayak tour in
the Lakes Region. He has been paddling since he was
a child and enjoys being out on the water.
Bill Allen, a Registered Maine Guide, has been on the water since he was a kid. He says, “I learned to row a rowboat when I was 7 or 8 years old.”

Then in high school, Allen got a canoe. It was manufactured by a company called “Giselle.” At the time, they were known for making truck caps and canoes.

In those early years, Allen enjoyed paddling the Winthrop Lakes Region. It wasn’t until after high school that he got a kayak.

Today, Allen guides kayak trips in the Sebago Lakes Region for visitors from all over the world. He says there are “30 to 40 launch spots open to the public within a 10- or 15-mile radius of the office.”

Allen has explored much of the region and has a few favorite places. The Tenny River is accessible off of Webbs Mills Road in Raymond and one can launch their kayak onto Crescent Lake.

From there, Allen says it’s a “short paddle so it’s good to incorporate a paddle around Crescent to Tenny River.” In addition to Crescent Lake, Panther Pond is also a great spot to paddle, he says.

In fact, when out-of-towners ask Allen where we would rent a cottage in Maine, he says “Anywhere on Panther Pond or Crescent Lake.”

Dundee Pond is another favorite of his. The launch site is by the North Gorham Dam on Windham Center Road.

There is little to no motorboat traffic there.

“I like the nice peaceful, quiet paddling spots, connecting with nature,” Allen said.

As a guide, Allen enjoys the history tours. In the fall, the tours paddle the Presumpscot River, launching from the Gambo Soccer Fields.

This tour is called the ‘Foliage Tour’ and covers local history. They also visit Babb’s Covered Bridge on Hurricane Road.

Unsurprisingly, there was a hurricane that washed away parts of the covered bridge and there was also a fire in the late 1800s.

Another threat to this historical landmark is its reputation as a swimming spot. Many local kids have climbed to the top of the bridge to jump off into the river, Allen said. A hole was cut into the roof to make the top more accessible.

Allen encourages people to swim there, but not to jump off the bridge. He said that there is a rope swing nearby that provides the same thrill.

On the Presumpscot River tours, Allen says, “There’s always ducks, geese, bald eagles, various birds, and wildlife along the shoreline.” This is because of low motorboat activity.

Three nights a week in the summer, he embarks on the Sunset Tour. This trip goes from Panther Run to Jordan Bay, where visitors are taken to “Hot Tub Island,” a publicly owned island that has a circle of rocks arranged into hot tub size and shape.

The island is an ideal place to watch the sunset and a favorite of Allen.

“Sunsets are like snowflakes, no two are the same,” he said.

Many of the guided tours conclude with a treat – a Maine Needham. Often visitors have never heard or seen a Needham, so Allen tells their story and explains that they are a staple in Maine.

Safety is a priority on any guided trip. As a Registered Maine Guide, Allen has Red Cross First Aid Training. Guides take a dry bag of supplies on each trip and explain to participants the contents of the bag as well as basic safety protocols.

“It’s all about the experience,” Allen said.

When families tag along, Allen enjoys noticing the dynamic of the family and seeing the kids happy. Even if they weren’t excited before they went out on the water, they always come back smiling.

He knows that the kids will remember this when they grow up.

“Maine is an especially unique place in the world,” Allen said. “I always tell people paddling is good for your soul. It’s easy, peaceful, and relaxing.” <

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