Laugh of the Wild

Viewing Loons in Maine

Maine has the largest population of loons in the Northeast, with breeding pairs on many of the larger interior lakes; loons are much less common along the coast, although a pair may occasionally set up territory in such heavily used areas as Acadia National Park.

Knight's Pond, on the western shore of Penobscot Bay, is on the Maine Register of Critical Areas and is part of the Maine Nature Conservancy's St. Clair Preserve; it is close to Route 1, the tourist artery, is easily reached by canoe, and has nesting loons. From Northport go west on Beech Hill Road to Knight's Road, a left turn; the jump-off point is the boat launch at the east end of Knight's Pond. Because the pond is so accessible, it is critically important that people not approach the loons, particularly if visitors suspect a nest is nearby.

Loons are especially easy to hear (and see) in Baxter State Park, the 201,000-acre wilderness north of Millinocket. Baxter is primarily a foot park, with an encompassing 175-mile network of trails linking many of the backcountry lakes and ponds where loons nest, but less energetic visitors have several options as well.

Togue Pond, on the park border by the southern (Millinocket) gate, hosts several pairs of loons on both sides of the lake, and has the advantage of being outside the park gatehouse, so visitors needn't pay the entrance fee of eight dollars. Within the park, South Branch Pond, about ten miles from the Matagamon gatehouse, is usually popular with loons; rangers here often see as many as ten on the lake, most having flown in from smaller ponds to fish, then returning to feed their young. There is a campground at South Branch Pond (reservations required), and campers are often treated to dawn and dusk choruses. A trail leads to Upper South Branch Pond about 2 miles away, another good place to see and hear loons.

Just outside the park to the northeast, Grand Lake Matagamon and Scraggly Lake are also hotspots for loons, as well as being especially productive for moose.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 8 Nov 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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