Headed toward the glory of the beach at Range Pond State Park. Shannon Bryan photo
The beach isn't huge. It isn't tiny. It's juuuust right. Shannon Bryan photo
Canoes, kayaks and paddleboards for rent. $5 an hour. Shannon Bryan photo
Every view is better with the nose of a kayak in it. Shannon Bryan photo
The pond. Shannon Bryan photo
Hard to see, but there's an eagle's nest in those trees. Shannon Bryan photo
An overlook on the trail. Shannon Bryan photo
A view from the trail onto one of the small beaches at the park. Shannon Bryan photo
Another view of one of the smaller beaches at the park - take the trail to get there and be rewarded with a quieter, more private location. Shannon Bryan photo
Range Pond State Park in Poland is hardly a secret.
The small beach filled with people (small ones and full-grown ones) make that clear immediately.
Some choose to sunbathe in brightly colored swimsuits while others dig holes in the sand with brightly colored shovels and rakes. From the water, there’s splashing and laughing and more splashing.
Yep. Locals are already well aware that the park, located 20 minutes southwest of Lewiston, is an ideal place to spend a summer afternoon (it’s partly because of the beach, partly because of the pond and partly because of the nature trails).
Folks slightly farther away, however, might not be as hip to this state park, or know that, in addition to the aforementioned beach, pond and trails, you can also rent canoes, kayaks and paddleboards for $5. Or bring your own. There’s an easily accessible boat launch, too. And an eagle’s nest!
DESTINATION: Range Pond State Park, off Empire Road, Poland [Map] | www.maine.gov
HOW MUCH: Park entry is $4.50 for adult Maine residents, $6.50 for adult non-residents and $2 senior non-residents, Maine seniors free. Kayak, canoe and paddleboard rentals are $5 an hour.
WHO: Anyone who appreciates sand, swimming and super convenient parking!
WHEN: Open all year, 9 a.m. to sunset daily unless otherwise signed at gate.
What’s there to say? It’s a beach! Lots of kids and groups of kids (campers, perhaps?) and lots of grownups keeping an eye on their kids and some grownups enjoying some sunshine without any kids at all. In addition to the expanse of sand (hot on the feet, but great for burying your friends) there’s a playground and a bunch of picnic tables tucked into the the shade of the nearby trees. Many of which were piled high during my recent visit with coolers and other picnic essentials, plus enough snacks to last the whole day. Because this is a place where you could spend the whole day.
There’s a marked swimming area with lifeguards on duty for folks who want to soak, swim or otherwise frolic in the shallow areas of Lower Range Pond. If you wish to paddle out onto it, you can rent one of the park’s canoes, kayaks or paddleboards. These boats are in limited supply, so there may be a wait on busy afternoons. And you’ll need to let the park staff know you’ll be renting something as you pull in to pay entry at the gate. It’s a bit awkward, especially if you’re undecided, but my motto is: When in doubt, rent a kayak. You can also BYO kayak/paddleboard/canoe.
The rentals are by the hour – I’d say two hours is ample time to explore the entire pond (eagles nest and all) with ample time for lazy floating. But an hour suffices for tooling around, checking out a few things and heading back.
The nature trail is a wide, mostly flat, one-mile loop that follows the the pond most of the way, then loops around the adjacent marsh (look for the beaver’s dam!). It’s mostly sand and dirt along the way – and could be done in flip flops (because you were just at the beach, remember). There are a few lookouts onto the pond that are super pretty, too. As an added bonus for folks willing to trek down this way, there are two smaller beaches located on the pond’s eastern shore that you might have the pleasure of having to yourself (or sharing with a few other people).
Other stuff: There’s ample parking, clean changing rooms near the parking lot and outhouses at every turn. But there’s no food, so be sure to pack plenty to eat and drink, because once you’re here, you’re not going to want to pack up and leave just because you forgot a sandwich.
One last tip: It’s pronounced “rang” pond. Why? Here are some theories.
Range Pond State Park
Off Empire Road in Poland | www.maine.gov
Open daily all year from 9 a.m. to sunset unless otherwise noted at gate.
Fees: $4.50 adult Maine resident, $6.50 adult non-resident, $2 senior non-resident, Maine seniors are free
After a day on the beach/pond/trail at Range Pond State Park, wouldn’t some frozen custard hit the spot? Ruby Rose Frozen Custard is just a few miles away on Maine Street in Poland. And it is delicious.
Ruby Rose Frozen Custard
1184 Maine St., Poland | 207-998-2262 | www.facebook.com/RubyRoseFrozenCustard
Get out of dodge (at least for a little while) with a mini adventure. These excursions can be done in a day – sometimes an afternoon – and will hopefully lead you to places you’ve never been. This is Maine, after all, and we all need some adventuring.