Difficulty: Easy. Jones Pond is quiet water — calm and without strong currents or rapids. However, the surface can become choppy if the wind picks up. Also, the pond is open to motorboats, which can create wakes that will certainly rock your boat.
How to get there: Boat access and parking is available at Jones Pond Recreation Area in Gouldsboro. From Ellsworth, drive east on Route 1 to West Gouldsboro. Turn right onto Route 195 and drive about 0.4 mile, then turn right onto Recreation Road. Drive another 0.3 mile to the parking area.
Information: Filled with lilypads, turtles and brown trout, Jones Pond covers 467 acres in the coastal town of Gouldsboro. While many cabins and homes line its shore, the pond’s undeveloped areas are home to a variety of wildlife, including beaver and nesting loons.
Jones Pond is a popular place for recreationists. Dotted with small islands, the freshwater pond is easily accessible from a public boat launch at Jones Pond Recreation Area, which includes Co Bradley Memorial Park. The recreation area is maintained by the town and includes picnic tables, a playground, restrooms and a small beach and swim area.
Starting at the boat launch, which is located on the northeastern shore of the pond, it is a little more than 1 mile to paddle to the southernmost point of the pond, if paddling in a straight line. However, the majority of wildlife will be spotted along the shore, where songbirds dart through the thick sweetgale bushes and turtles loaf on logs and rocks. Also, a beaver lodge is located near the mouth of a stream in the southeast arm of the pond.
There are seven small islands scattered throughout the pond, according to a map in the second edition of “Quiet Water Maine: Canoe & Kayak Guide” by Alex Wilson and John Hayes. This useful resource includes information on 84 calm-water trips located throughout Maine, including driving directions, descriptions, maps and nature essays. I used this book to identify sweetgale as well.
Historically, this pond has been home to brown trout, smallmouth bass, chain pickerel, minnows, golden shiner, white sucker, hornpout, banded killifish, american eel and alewife, according to Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife surveys from 1952-1994.
Access to the Jones Pond Recreation Area is free. Alcohol is not permitted. Dogs are permitted if on leash. Fires are permitted in barbeque containers only. And there is no lifeguard on duty; guardians are asked to watch their children while they swim.
For information about Jones Pond, call the Gouldsboro Town Office at 963-5589.
Personal note: After strapping two kayaks atop my Subaru, my fiancé Derek and I drove to a little town called Gouldsboro on the coast of Maine for a paddling adventure on Saturday, May 16. A white wall of clouds covered the sky, blocking out the sunshine, and a sprinkle of rain dotted the car windshield as we drove the 30 minutes or so to Jones Pond — but you can’t always wait for perfect weather to get outdoors.
Blackflies swarmed around us as we launched onto the pond from the public landing, so I sidled up to Derek’s kayak to unearth the bug repellent from the hatch behind his seat. We sprayed our arms and neck with the spicy scent of ‘Skeeter Skidaddler (a Maine-made natural insect repellent I fell in love with a few years ago) and weren’t bothered much by the buggers from then on.
We started off paddling along the shore through lilypad gardens and grasses growing so thick that they nearly held my kayak captive.
Soon into the adventure, we spotted an eastern painted turtle, a common critter in Maine ponds, but before I could get my camera out of a dry sack to take a photo, it slid off its log seat and into the water. For the next hour or so, we looked for turtles, paddling slowly along the shore. Along the way, we spotted two Canada geese, a cormorant, a few gulls and red-winged black birds. There was a variety of songbirds flitting about in the shrubs and trees lining the shore as well.
Finally, near the mouth of a stream that empties into the pond on its southeast end, we came across two turtles sitting side by side on a log. I was photographing them when Derek shouted to get my attention and pointed to a bunch of bumps along the shore far ahead. He thought might be a whole group of turtles.
Looking through my 100-400mm camera lens, I could see he was right — 10 turtles were lined up, almost evenly spaced, on an old log at the edge of the water. I’ve never seen so many turtles at once. They were all painted turtles, but Maine is home to two types of painted turtles — the eastern painted turtle and midland painted turtle — and they’re very similar in appearance. So, I won’t hazard to guess which kind they were.
Painted turtles are basking turtles, which simply means they spend a lot of time in the sun to warm themselves. While seeing 10 turtles together seemed unusual to me, it’s actually not strange at all. Painted turtles often bask in groups. At one lake in Kikomun Creek Provincial Park in British Columbia, as many as 60 turtles have been seen basking on one log, according to a report by the British Columbia Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks.
After photographing the turtle party, Derek and I paddled upstream and found a beaver lodge. We weren’t too surprised; we had been noticing beaver sign (felled trees and debarked saplings) in the forest bordering the pond all morning.
We then consulted our map and headed away from the shore to paddle around the small, forested islands. On the way, we spotted a pair of loons in the distance. Then, as I rounded a bend of one of the islands, I saw what I thought was a large dead bird lying on a ledge.
With a sinking feeling in my gut, I continued to paddle toward the animal to make sure it wasn’t simply injured. Then, to my surprise, it raised its head and
gave me a challenging (seemingly healthy) stare. It was a Canada goose, and I instantly realized, it wasn’t injured, it was lying on a nest of sticks, lined with soft feathers. I felt a wave of relief, quickly replaced by a feeling of discomfort (similar to the feeling you might have if you walked in on someone in a restroom). Approaching a bird while on its nest is taboo. It can scare a bird off its eggs or away from its young. So I quickly paddled away, on to the next island, and from there, back to the landing where we started.
For more of Aislinn Sarnacki’s adventures, visit her blog at actoutwithaislinn.bangordailynews.com. Follow her on Twitter: @1minhikegirl.