Day 32: South Branch Pond (Reflections and Loons), Baxter State Park

Day 32: South Branch Pond (Reflections and Loons), Baxter State Park

Baxter State park, South Branch Pond Reflection and loons

We were sad to leave Canada behind, but easing back into the US via Baxter State Park was a brilliant idea. Initially, our daughter had considered climbing Mount Katadin here, but when we arrived at South Branch Pond, on the northern end of the park, we didn’t want to leave. Katadin was still two hours to the south, and this gorgeous place is only a day’s drive from home. We’ll come back someday and stay closer to the trailhead for that. Meanwhile, we just stayed put and enjoyed right where we were!

This lovely spot changes all day with its light and reflections. There are lots of snakes and huge rabbits. The loon pair on the lake have two babies that are fun to watch being fed, and the hills surrounding the pond act as an acoustical echo chamber for their fabulous calls. The birch trees were picturesque, abundant along the shore, and the weather was ideal. It was blissful, and we rested deeply.

We canoed and swam, and the water is the clearest I’ve seen since the Tetons. The canoes, at a $1 per hour, were the best deal of the trip. We canoed past a beaver lodge and the water was clear enough to see all the underwater infrastructure of it. We lazed about, floating on the canoe, playing gleefully bantering games of categories; Laura beat me at countries, types of boats, and musical instruments. I only won on kinds of vegetables, but I congratulated myself on a job well done as a homeschooling mother, as I was repeatedly trounced by my kid.

The campground has no potable water, only pit toilets, no trash removal (carry it all out yourself), with strict leave-no-trace requirements of straining dishwater, etc. It is the only place on our trip where there is no cell service or wifi. The ranger welcomed us back to the 1930’s, and that was fine with us. The pristine environment, reflected these policies, and we were more than happy to comply.

Baxter, whom the park is named after, was governor or Maine, and when he was unsuccessful at getting this land set aside through political means, in the 1930’s during the height of the depression he bought up 209,000 acres and gave it to the state along with funds for running the park. It was his stipulations, about leaving the area “unimproved” that we are still enjoying today. Bless that man for his foresight and tenacity.

There are tons of photos in this post, more than a few of you may want, but this place made my soul sing, and I want all these images here to reflect back on. I was in love with this place and want to paint it from every angle. The ever-changing light was a fascination for me. It was a sanctuary to worship in, and I was devout about my communion. I hope to be back.

Baxter State park, South Branch Pond Reflection and loons



I work to amplify good wherever I find it. I love color, texture, beauty, great ideas, nature, metaphor, deliciousness, genuine spirituality, and exploring new territory. I encourage authenticity, nurture creativity, champion sustainability, promote peace, and hope to foster a new renaissance where we all are free to be our most fulfilled, multifaceted, and terrific selves. Read more here.


  1. christine 5 years ago

    This place is absolutely stunning and I would LOVE to go there. Not a huge fan of snakes :-} but I’m guessing they were just garter snakes and were eager to leave when you were around. Loved the photos! The water is SO clear and beautiful! Amazing! It was good to see there are places like this left on the planet.

    • Author
      Polly Castor 5 years ago

      Yes, they were non-threatening snakes. This park is vast– most of the upper half of Maine.

  2. Diane Lally 5 years ago

    Dear Polly,
    Your trip has been incredible to follow and I am awed by all the wonders you’ve shared.
    In this last post with all the photos everything looks surreal and heavenly! How fortunate to have witnessed those dreamy scenes by the water. I was noticing in one of the pictures, the second photo after the picnic table, I believe I see your face in the water. Was that intentional? It took me by surprise! Am I seeing things?
    Thank you for sharing the marvelous adventures with your bright outgoing daughter. It was fun to see so many places through your eyes.
    All the best,

    • Author
      Polly Castor 5 years ago

      I’m so glad you were glad to be vicariously along on our trip. I suppose you may be right… that shadow might be of me in the canoe, but it certainly was not intentional! With your sharp eyes, you would have really enjoyed all we have seen! And yes it was heavenly! So hard to have it winding to a close!

  3. Maria Marallo 5 years ago

    What a beautiful spot! I’ve enjoyed your trip through your wonderful pictures! It’s nice to know there are still such beautiful, tranquil places – with no tour busses!

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