QUICK TRAIL FACTS
- Preserve Size: 209,644 acres
- Trail Mileage: 1.4 miles one way by foot
- Pets: no
- Difficulty: easy
- Sights: mountain views, remote ponds, waterfalls, marsh
Map includes sections via canoe on Kidney and Lily Pad Ponds.
If you are in the mood for a land-and-water adventure, this route offers a delightful trip that will bring you to two remote ponds and to Little and Big Niagara Falls from the west side of the stream (most hikers follow the AT to see them from the other side).
If you don’t have your own boat, the first step is to find a ranger at either Daicey Pond or Kidney Pond campgrounds (they’re more like cabin grounds) and get the keys to the locked canoes at Lily Pad Pond. These are offered on a first-come-first-served basis.
Then grab a canoe, paddles, and life jackets at Kidney Pond and skim across Kidney to the boat landing on the opposite side. We had a bit of trouble finding the right boat landing (there are at least three). You’ll know you’re at the right place if you see a sign for “Lily Pad Landing.” Perhaps the easiest way to find it is to head to the little peninsula that houses Cabin #12, and then follow the shore around its east (left) side.
Leave your canoe at Lily Pad Landing and walk 0.4 miles to Lily Pad Pond. The last 100 feet or so you follow a narrow bog bridge across the marshy fringes of the pond. When we visited in 2022, the boat launch and bog bridges were in need of repair and required steady balance to unlock the boats and get in.
The next leg of the journey was glorious! You paddle through a reedy channel for a short distance before reaching the open water of Lily Pad Pond, with stunning views of Doubletop, O-J-I, Owl, and Katahdin mountains to the north.
It’s very easy to find the landing at the south end of Lily Pad Pond, although it can be muddy. The next section of trail follows a forested path, with short side trails marked by signs to incredible views of both Little and Big Niagara Falls.
Windy Pitch Pond is about 1 mile from Lily Pad Pond — a very small pond that also has boats you can take out. (The rangers say there is some debate over how to pronounce the Windy in Windy Pitch.)
The whole endeavor took us about four hours, although we weren’t in a rush, and the total walking distance was about 3 miles.
Directions: The best place to pick up the water-land-water-land trail to Windy Pitch Pond is at the Kidney Pond cabins. Find a ranger and tell them your plan and they’ll help you out!