Description: Easy. Hermon Pond is a quiet water location that is ideal for beginner paddlers, and it’s large enough to explore for several hours.
How to get there: A public boat launch is located at Jackson Beach at the end of Jackson Beach Road in Hermon, at the west end of the pond. To get there, take I-95 Exit 174 and head west (you’ll technically be going north) on Route 69 (Hampden Road) about 1 mile, then turn right onto Hinckley Hill Road. Drive 1.2 miles, then turn left onto Newburg Road. Drive about 0.8 miles and turn right onto Jackson Beach Road, which is marked with a large sign for Jackson Beach. Drive to the end of the road, following the signs to the boat launch and parking area.
Information: Covering approximately 460 acres on the south border of Hermon, Hermon Pond is a shallow body of water that warms up quickly in the summertime, making it a popular spot for swimming, small boating and fishing. The main access to the pond is Jackson Beach and Boat Landing, located at Hermon Park, on the west end of the pond. The facility is open to the public for free from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Camps and homes are located along the shore of Hermon Pond, but there are considerable stretches of shoreline that are undeveloped. Keep your eyes peeled for a variety of wildlife, including resident bald eagles.
During the summer, dragonflies and mayflies cruise over the surface of the pond, and bullfrogs call from the lush vegetation along the shore. In the shallows, cow lilies and other water plants grow in abundance, and fish snatch insects from the surface.
The pond has a maximum depth of 17 feet, according to a survey conducted by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Motorboats are permitted, so it’s important that paddlers be alert for wakes and maintain high visibility by wearing bright colors, traveling in groups and making sure to have plenty of lights aboard.
Many visitors to Hermon Pond throw in a fishing line. In 2000, state biologists recorded the following fishes in the pond: brook trout, common shiner, rainbow smelt, creek chub, smallmouth bass, fallfish, largemouth bass, white sucker, white perch, hornpout, yellow perch, banded killifish, chain pickerel, pumpkinseed sunfish, minnows, black crappie, golden shiner and American eel.
Souadabscook Stream feeds into Hermon Pond on its west end; and it flows out of the pond on its southeast end, leading to the smaller Hammond Pond, and eventually, the Penobscot River. Also, when the water level is high (typically in the spring), paddlers can explore the narrow, windy Patten Stream (found along the pond’s southwest shore), which leads to the small Ben Annis Pond.
After your paddle, Jackson Beach is a great spot for a picnic, with a stretch of lawn and rough sand on the shore. The area also includes a small wooden dock, a concrete ramp for putting in boats, covered picnic tables, toilets and changing rooms.
Personal note: I was 10 minutes late on June 11 when I met my cousin at the public boat landing on Hermon Pond. I’d forgotten the kayak paddles. But fortunately, I noticed before I got too far from my house. Then a foam block, which was wedged under a kayak to protect the roof of my car, was lost en route. So I had to stop to tighten the webbing that secured the boats — then I ran by an outfitter to purchase more foam blocks.
Eventually, I’ll get a hang of this boating thing.
With just a few tiny white clouds floating overhead, the sun beat down almost constantly. By 3:30 p.m., when we launched our boats from the pond’s tiny beach, the temperature was in the 80s. As Eve and I paddled over lily pads, she commented on the number of insects zipping around. Dragonflies, mostly, but also some mayflies and beetles.
“At least there don’t seem to be any mosquitoes,” I said.
“It’s too hot for mosquitoes,” she replied, and I agreed, feeling the sweat start to drip down my back.
We paddled for about two hours, turning left from the boat launch and tracing the north shore of the pond around a few bends, then taking a more direct route back. Along the way, the amount of wildlife we saw surprised me, considering the stifling heat and the amount of people using the pond that day. There were Sea-Doos and motorboats and kayaks. There were people swimming and fishing. We even watched a float plane land.
Nevertheless, the wildlife was plentiful.
First, a loon surfaced close to the nose of Eve’s kayak. Then, along the shore, I pointed out a grackle — a large bird that at first appears black but actually has quite colorful, iridescent feathers. Then, a spotted sandpiper, hopping from rock to rock.
Just before making a U-turn and paddling back, I heard a commotion on shore — twigs snapping and leaves rustling — and it turned out to be a family of Canada geese. Two adults, with their long black necks, and their young, which were nearly as big as the parents but were mostly brown, still waiting for their grown-up feathers.
On the way back, we watched as an osprey flying high overhead. It seemed to be pursuing a larger bird, which we eventually identified as a bald eagle by its white head and tail. The eagle perched in a tall oak tree at the edge of the water, and the osprey flew off, only to be harassed by a much smaller bird. I guess that’s karma.
Continuing back to the boat landing, Eve and I paddled past the bald eagle (pausing to take a few photos, of course), then Eve pointed out some shapes in the distance.
“Are those loons?” she asked.
“I think they’re just kids, swimming,” I replied.
“They’re in the middle of the pond,” she pointed out.
“Yeah, that’s weird,” I said, then looked through my camera to find that she was right — they were loons. Four of them.
So we ended our paddle by watching four loons swim past us to unite with a fifth loon. I don’t know if they were a family or not, but they seemed to be sticking together. We kept our distance and paddled by for the final stretch to the boat launch.
It was our first time exploring Hermon Pond, but I’d say we had a pretty lucky two hours on the water.