Monday, September 19, 2011

Marsh Stream South, Marsh Bay, Frankfort Maine

Mendall Marsh from Fort Knox Rd Bridge

Summary:  Launch Penobscot River Launch  All Tide, No facilities. Launched 75 minutes before high, about 8 miles to Fort Knox Rd Bridge and  Railroad Bridge over Colson Stream then back to launch. Cautions: Hunting for seafowl in season in marsh. Colson Stream is significantly higher in the spring. 

Update:  This sign is now posted at the launch.  I'd stick to a high tide visit and bring extra water for rinsing my hands.

Marsh Bay or Mendall Marsh, as the Wildlife Management Area is known, is a lovely site to drive by in any season, but especially in fall and winter. There is a pleasant landing there, a remnant of quarrying days on nearby Mount Waldo. Then, the landing promised to serve schooners with a 14 foot draft. I don’t know if that is still true, but it is an all tide launch and a popular place to bring kayaks.
From the launch, we headed toward Prospect on Marsh Stream South, a 4 mile stretch ending in twisting turns. We were riding the tide, but mainly for accessibility and esthetic reasons, the current was not terribly strong along the route.
Another old landing along the way with a quarrying hill behind
There is one higher spine in the river, and along this narrow spine the relentless effort of erosion was visible. Someday the stream will break through.
But most of the other turns are spread apart in the marshy grass. I was hoping for great bird sightings, or fall color, but didn’t really spot anything; just a few herons and ducks. I can’t say I was being overly observant though. There was a south wind facing us on the paddle, but it was also a hot cloudless day (hard to imagine now that the weather has turned again), and I just got tired of the endless sun reflecting back into my face.  Plus the further we made it into the marsh, the siltier the water became, so I didn't really want to dip my sleeves in to cool off.

We made it up to the power lines, past Fort Knox Rd. Those were under repair and we thought it best not to paddle beneath them.

What a relief it was when we took the turn on Colson Stream up to the rickety railroad bridge, and came to clearer water.  Finally I could get the grit off my hands!
There was a rocky, shady area just beyond the bridge, surprisingly bug free, where we took a break, and then it was back to the landing. I tried to convince Mark to attempt yoga on the rock, without luck. Baffinpaddler may have attempted it, but she wisely sticks to water she is willing to swim in on hot days.
The sun was at a better angle on the return trip, but we did miss the wind. Once we exited the twisty section the water was clearer as well.

I do rather like some of the pictures I got, but I think it might make a better paddle later in the day, later in the season, or with a few more clouds. It should be noted, Mendall Marsh is a Wildlife Management Area for hunting seafowl, hunting season starts October 1.

Back at the landing a young boy played in the warm water, and in a few other cars the occupants sat enjoying their lunchs. I took this last picture, because it demonstrates what a beautiful backdrop the bay makes.  It's ideal if you're thinking about listing a car online.
More about quarrying on Mt Waldo/Mosquito, (scroll down for information about Frankfort) The Mount Waldo quarry is perhaps most famous for producing much of the rock for Fort Knox in Prospect.


  1. Glad you hit it at high tide..much nicer. Sometimes that area can get rather odoriferous at the low.

  2. Good advice; I've never tried it at low tide, now I know to avoid it.

  3. Well, well. Mark could have done a sitting pose, or a two legged pose? He was probably smart not to try a one-legged pose on those rocks though - but, you can always cheat and hold on to a tree branch and hope it doesn't break.

    But what a sad sign. Ducks, fish, and everything else is toxic from the water. And now in Canada, it's even worse thanks to the Alberta tar sands (they call them oil sands)and those massive pipelines from Canada to the U.S., we now have major oil spills into rivers that just kill everything. Finding clean water is an issue.

    Cheers from Canada.

    1. I suppose I could have had Mark attempt a pose, but I doubt he would have looked as elegant as you. Depressing what is allowed into rivers. We're watching a huge clearcut develop along the Penobscot now. It goes almost down to the river since it is along side a former gravel pit which is now being converted to a park. I love the idea of the park and water access, but wish they had kept some minimal barrier as a token reminder of the goal of clean water...