So many Maine towns have, at one time or another, enjoyed a taste of glory. It could be Sangerville, home of two knights, or Rockport, home of the man who invented the doughnut hole.

East of Newport lies the town of Stetson – home of Pleasant Lake and in the early 1900s the home of the largest oxen team in the world, Mt. Katahdin and Granger, who tipped the scales at nearly 10,000 pounds and were once featured at Madison Square Garden in New York.

We recently enjoyed a four-hour exploration of the western half of the 3-mile long lake. A winding mile-long channel leads out from the outlet dam into the open lake. On the southern side of the channel sits a 100-acre wooded peninsula known as the Cape. The Hewitt family graciously gifted the land in 2010 to create the Pleasant Lake Preserve. You will pass by a couple of waterside picnic tables, part of the network of trails. You can land in a number of spots and enjoy a walk in the shadows of hemlock and fir trees.

Rounding the Cape you will paddle by a number of large marshes and wetlands punctuated by a few homes and a campground located at the southwestern end of the lake. Red-winged blackbirds constantly flitted up out of the grasses onto nearby larch branches. The air was filled with their telltale calls, one of the magical sounds of early summer in Maine. The honking of Canada geese echoed from shore to shore. Mallards dabbled in secluded shadows. A bald eagle flew low over the water to a distant tree.

The larch trees were in their late-June glory. The larch is the only evergreen that drops its needles in the fall. In late May the needles appear again, in a dazzling blue-green luster, dainty and delicate. The light of the sun accentuates the color even more, making it almost mystical. A number of the smaller larch were twisted in contorted pretzel-like shapes. Life in a windswept Maine marsh is not always easy.

The ripening berries of blueberry bushes lined the shoreline, mixing with the soft pinks of rhodora and sheep laurel. The green and red leaves of pitcher plants were just starting to emerge from the peat. Life was exploding everywhere we looked. We saw our first blue heron of the season standing on a rounded boulder. Sandpipers led us along, leapfrogging from rock to rock just ahead of us. Swarms of dragonflies snatched insects out of the air above us. The seed balls of yellow pond lilies poked up from the water on their sturdy green stalks.


Pleasant Lake is shallow, the deepest spot only 16 feet deep. Just around the Cape begins a stretch of shoreline along the marshes dotted with many flat ledges and artistically shaped boulders; a dazzling rock garden courtesy of glacial movement and melt 13,000 years ago.

A stiff northerly late morning wind kicked up so we adjusted our plan and worked our way back up the secluded channel to the boat launch. The east end of the lake will have to be explored on another visit. Maybe we will plan a fall trip to enjoy the golden hues of the larch needles before they drop off for the winter.

Back at the boat launch an enthusiastic couple were fishing from the dam, and getting lots of action. In a few minutes they had landed and released a pickerel and two bass. They were having a fun time together unabashedly admiring each other’s skills. It was nice to see; folks outdoors enjoying June beauty and each other. Poet James Russell Lowell had it right; “And what is so rare as a day in June? Then, if ever, come perfect days.”

Pleasant Lake puts the perfect in a June day.

Consult the DeLorme Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (map No. 22) for help in getting to the boat launch located at the outlet dam on the northwestern side of the lake, 100 yards east of Route 143 in Stetson. The unpaved access road is marked by a small red sign out on Route 143.

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:

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