Fall Tours with L.L.Bean’s Outdoor Discovery Schools


Fall is here, but that doesn’t mean activities on the water have to end. L.L.Bean Outdoor Discovery Schools guide, Scott, shares his thoughts on the fall kayaking tours we offer – and his favorite spots for paddling. Scott is a Master Maine Sea Kayaking and Recreation Guide, and both a paddleboard and kayaking instructor for the American Canoe Association.


My wife and I have been Maine sea kayak guides in LLBean’s Outdoor Discover Schools for six years and agree that the fall sea kayak tours in Casco Bay are a great way to enjoy the vivid colors of fall and observe migrating birds.


Kelly and Scott

Scott and his wife


ODS Dock

L.L.Bean's Freeport, Maine, Outdoor Discovery Schools dock, ready for the tour to begin.


The fall foliage is the background of the fall tours, and paddlers are likely to see migrating hawks and waterfowl, as well as feeding schools of striped bass as they prepare to head south. On these tours, our kayaks weave through the protected waters of Casco Bay amidst working lobster and pleasure boats. Casco Bay has 300 to 400 species of birds, reptiles, mammals and amphibians that breed or occupy this watershed at some time during the annual cycle. It is a rich and diverse ecosystem, and each time we take a tour out, we are always thrilled with what we see.


One of our favorite places on these tours is Sister Island and the adjoining ledges. It is approximately a mile from where we start, and when the tide is right, we can watch harbor seals sun bathing on the ledges. They can grow up to 6 feet in length while the slightly smaller adult females measure up to 5.5 feet in length and weigh up to 230 lb. We are careful to not get too close and disturb them; however, they often peek curiously out of the water at us.


Next, we often paddle southwest to Williams Island, where we get an excellent view of an abandoned eagle nest, and then proceed along the shore observing and comparing it to an osprey nest.



Eagle atop tree


As we head to our next island, Pettingill, we are likely to pass other eagle and osprey nests. We have views of Portland in the distance and other islands nearby. At Pettingill, we are likely to see a treat that few experience in their lives – a great blue heron rookery. The tall, long-legged great blue heron is the most common and largest of North American herons.


Great Blue Heron


If the tides are right, we often end our island explorations paddling through a small channel between Sow and Pig Island, two small pieces of land. Interesting names – and I have no idea of their source.


On our return paddle, we set our compass course for Freeport’s Lower Flying Point and enjoy the fall foliage of the mainland, see some of the ocean homes of the area, and remind ourselves we are fortunate to have this as our summer/fall job.



Cleary, Scott is a kayaking pro – like many of our Outdoor Discovery Schools instructors. If you’re interested in taking a fall kayaking course, see the schedule or call 1-888-552-3261 to speak with an outdoor reservations specialist. They’ll help you find the tour that’s perfect for you.


What is your favorite thing to observe while kayaking?



  1. B Q. | December 18, 2012 | 8:58 am


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