Beal Island: this island has it all. Located on the Sasanoa River on the North end of Knubble Bay, it has a camping capacity for 30 people. There is a great landing area on a beach at the Southern end. It is 64 acres and has a trail that circumnavigates. Some of the highlights of the hike include Hell’s Gate to the East, Little Gate to the West, bald eagles, and ospreys. The beach has a fire ring for camp fires, and tables to cook on. Beal makes a perfect “home base” to explore mid coast Maine.
When considering the next day’s paddle, the first thing to do is check the tides. If it is flooding at departure time, go North. If it is ebbing, go South. My favorite trip North is into Montsweag Bay. Leaving the beach, I like to paddle on the West side of Beal into Little Gate. Here there are several elements to play in. Eddy lines and eddys are numerous, and give the paddler a good test of his skill. In Lower Hell’s Gate, on the East side, there is only one main attraction, and that is the eddy line at White Point. It is either a true test of skill or a good place to learn and practice different paddle strokes. No place for beginners, this has a rip that can exceed 5 knots, so if you decide on this rout, beware.
Passing Webber Island to the right, we enter Hockomock Bay. There are a lot of interesting little islands in this bay. Castle, Peggy’s, and Little Bare are MITA islands that can be visited if you are a member, but all of the bay has lots of interesting places to explore.
Bearing to the East of Phipps Point we enter Montsweag Bay. Some interesting places. Here are Oak island and Chewonki Neck. At Chewonki, we usually turn around and head back to Beal. Depending on how much exploring we do, this trip can be 10-14 miles and is a good day’s paddle.
My favorite southerly trip is to Ried State Park. Leaving the beach, we head South past the AMC camp and the knubble. Heading slightly Eastward, we enter Goose Rocks Passage. Use caution here, as the current is swift. At the red nun #4 head South down the shortest river in Maine, the Little Sheepscott, about a mile long. We now come out to the Sheepscot River just south of Macmahan Island and follow the shoreline until we come to Five Islands our favorite bio break spot. Five Islands is a charming little Maine community with weathered shingle houses, fishing boats, and places to take pictures and if you want, eat lobster.
Continuing on, we come to open ocean. Caution is needed here due to swells that come in and can hit the shallow water (depending on the tide) and break on the unsuspecting paddler causing a yard sale effect, that can be serious. When we see Outer Head, we look for a place to land. These landings can be fun, and I have seen yard sales here too. Ried State Park has beautiful beaches, bathrooms, and snack bar, ( in open season) and is a favorite lunch spot.
On the return back to Beal, it is fun to take a slightly different route, and go outside Macmahan Island. As we round Northeast Point, there is a small but beautiful little cove that is good for bio breaks and picture taking. Then, it is back through Goose Rocks, into Knubble Bay, and once again landing on the beach at Beal. This trip is about 15 miles, and another great day on the mid coast of Maine.
Pierre B Erhard
MCA Professional Arborist