Set around 10 different ponds and wetlands, and crisscrossed with a variety of trails, Pillsbury State Park is a paddler’s paradise. Spread out over the 7,280-acre park, 40 campsites provide easy access to the several trails and ponds that make up the park. For the more adventurous campers the park also offers several hike-to and canoe-to campsites located in secluded spots around the park.
From the park headquarters I launched my kayak on to Butterfield Pond, and paddled slowly around the perimeter until I reached the Narrows. The small channel known as the Narrows connects Butterfield Pond to May Pond, which is the largest pond in the park and dotted with several small rocky islands.
Paddling to far edge of the pond I spotted a group of four Loons. Being more preoccupied with each other than me, the loons didn’t seem to mind as I approached closer in my kayak. Sitting close by in the middle of the pond I watched as the loons took turns diving below the surface. After coming up empty a few times the group of loons moved on and so did I.
I paddled back through the Narrows, and skirting the edge I made a quick stop at campsite 39 to check out the canoe-to site. Tucked in the woods right on the shore, the campsite makes an amazing base for fishing or paddling in the Butterfield and May Ponds.
Back at the boat ramp I swapped my kayak for my mountain bike and headed out on the Mad Road Trail. The super green and heavily wooded trail made the perfect shade after paddling under the midday sun. Crossing over the dam between May Pond and Mill Pond the Mad Road Trail follows a small brook to Bacon Pond. Hidden back in the woods, Bacon Pond is easy to miss if you’re not looking, but definitely worth the stop.
Following the trail I circled back to route 31 and the park entrance. With more to explore I drove down the park road to Mill Pond and jumped in my kayak for the second time of the day. The late afternoon sun dropped below the clouds and lit up the banks of the pond. I made my way quickly through Mill Pond and to the portage trail at the far end that leads to North Pond.
Being the most remote of the four main ponds in the park, paddling in North Pond I was totally alone, and fully enjoying the peaceful water. With the sun setting I pulled my kayak up on a rock in the middle of the pond to get my last look around North Pond before racing the sunset back to shore.