Perfect for an easy-going spring paddle or a jaunt on a summer evening, Runaround Pond is a quiet, beginner-friendly place to put in a kayak.

And if you’re good at wildlife spotting, you’re likely to see beavers, otters, eagles, osprey, kingfishers, herons, and frogs. (Even if you’re not great at wildlife spotting, you can’t miss the turtles. They’re everywhere. At least, that was the case during my first visit there last spring.) Runaround Pond is also purportedly the place that inspired the classic leech scene in Stephen King’s “Stand by Me.” King grew up near here and, judging by the leeches we saw on our kayaks when we pulled them out of the water, there’s a solid chance you’ll recreate that scene if you decide to go for a swim.

Kim Bennett enjoys the calm on Runaround Pond in Durham. Shannon Bryan photo

I was lucky enough to paddle Runaround with Kim Bennett (aka Maine Kayak Girl, who blogs all about kayaking in Maine and co-wrote the book “Paddling Southern Maine”). She knows so many great places to paddle and introduced me to Runaround Pond. She also has a keen eye for wildlife and pointed out all the critters I’d miss on my own.

Turtles! Shannon Bryan photo
“Wildlife” that wasn’t too hard to spot: a dog fetching a tennis ball. Shannon Bryan photo

There’s a parking lot at Runaround Pond Recreation Area just off Runaround Pond Road and an easy put-in. Not far from the parking lot is a tunnel under Runaround Pond Road that leads to one of the neatest spots on the pond.

The tunnel under Runaround Pond Road. Shannon Bryan photo
The view from the tunnel. Shannon Bryan photo
A small gorge beyond the tunnel. Be careful of the dam ahead. Shannon Bryan photo
I may have brought squirt guns on our paddle. Shannon Bryan photo

On the other side of the short tunnel is a sweet little gorge with stunning rock and tall trees. Definitely one of the prettiest parts of the paddle. But do be careful of the dam there and leave plenty of room between it and you.

A map of Runaround Pond by Royal River Conservation Trust.

The winding pond has lots of nooks and crannies, and you can explore the different branches. Check out the map of Runaround Pond by Royal River Conservation Trust [PDF].

You might spot a sign for Mine Forest Yurts, which is located on the pond, but otherwise, there are no houses or other buildings visible from the water, making this paddle feel very hidden and quiet.

Flat waters and solitude on Runaround Pond. Shannon Bryan photo
Paddling among the lily pads. Shannon Bryan photo
The trees still pushing out their leaves during this spring paddle. Shannon Bryan photo

For more photos and info about paddling here, read Kim’s recent blog entry about paddling here (and her write-ups about kayaking all over southern Maine). And get thee to Runaround Pond for a chill time on the water.

Runaround Pond Durham
The put-in at Runaround Pond at the Runaround Recreation Area in Durham. Shannon Bryan photo

Paddling Runaround Pond

Runaround Pond Recreation Area off Runaround Pond Road
Directions (From Portland, ME): Take Durham exit off I-295, take Route 136 to Rabbit Road (left), at intersection with stop sign, stay straight onto Runaround Pond Road and the Runaround Recreation Area will be on your right. There is free parking and an outhouse (which wasn’t open when we were there).