Pleasant Paddling: 7 Quiet Water Trips

February 17, 2014
Pleasant Paddling
Wayne ThornbroughEarly-morning paddles offer ample opportunities to view wildlife and take in stunning scenery.

Some of the Northeast’s more tranquil and remote spots can only be reached by water. With spring upon us, it’s time to launch your kayak or canoe into a new lake or pond. AMC authors have explored the best ponds and lakes across the Northeast for the Quiet Water book series (a completely revised edition of Quiet Water Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island comes out this month). Explore seven of their favorites, where you can pick wild blueberries from your boat, and keep an eye out for the local wildlife.

Upper and Lower Togue Ponds  |  Baxter State Park, Maine
Upper and Lower Togue ponds lie near the southern edge of Baxter State Park and offer the most stunning backdrop: majestic Katahdin, rising into the sky 6 miles away. Beaver and moose reside here, and you can expect to see a variety of bird species, including loons. Paddle close to the shore to spot blueberry, leatherleaf, Labrador tea, pitcher plants, and sphagnum moss. The ponds are typically iced in until early May, so plan your visit accordingly. A short portage is required to go from one to the other.
Size: 294 acres (Upper), 384 acres (Lower)
Info: Quiet Water Maine, 2nd ed. (AMC Books); Baxter State Park

Chocorua Lake  |  Tamworth, N.H.
Conservation lands and Route 16 border Chocorua Lake. Motorboats are prohibited here, so the only noise will be cars passing by and winds coming down off nearby Mount Chocorua. Marshy areas around the lake provide prime habitat for a range of bird species. If, after exploring Chocorua Lake, you want to extend your trip, just paddle under the bridge on the southern end and into Little Lake. Climb ashore, onto the rocks between the two lakes, for a nice picnic spot.
Size: 222 acres
Info: Quiet Water New Hampshire and Vermont, 3rd. ed. (AMC Books)

Edgartown Great Pond  |  Edgartown, Mass.
This large saltwater pond, separated from the Atlantic Ocean by a barrier beach, has some of the nicest quietwater paddling in Massachusetts. More than 15 miles of shoreline provide habitat for diverse plant and animal species. Watch for osprey, egrets, herons, and many other birds. Otters can be seen here as well, usually around dawn or dusk. The shoreline is almost entirely privately owned; visitors should use the public landing on Mashacket Neck.
Size: 890 acres
Info: Quiet Water Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, 3rd ed. (AMC Books)

Wood River and Alton Pond  |  Richmond, R.I.
Tiny Alton Pond (39 acres) is the starting point of this trip. Put in by the Alton Dam and head upstream along the Wood River. The waterway passes through marshes and by the remains of old mill buildings, remnants of a once-booming textile industry. The meandering river occasionally branches into dead-ends, providing even more opportunities for exploration. A short portage is required to continue past the Woodville Dam and into a diverse marshland.
Distance: 13 miles round-trip
Info: Quiet Water Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, 3rd ed. (AMC Books)

Bantam River  |  Litchfield, Conn.
Though 933-acre Bantam Lake attracts motorboaters, they’re not allowed on the Bantam River. Explore the less developed northern end of the lake, then paddle upriver through the 4,000-acre White Memorial Foundation nature preserve. The current is barely perceptible, and in about 2 miles you’ll come to Little Pond where you can explore before reversing course. This stretch of river is one of Connecticut’s prime birding spots, so look for osprey, great blue heron, and other species.
Distance: 4 miles round-trip
Info: Quiet Water Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, 3rd ed. (AMC Books); The White Memorial Conservation Center

Lake Sebago  |  Harriman State Park, N.Y.
The largest of Harriman State Park’s eight lakes, Sebago has 6 miles of shoreline to explore. Though located just upriver from Manhattan, Harriman offers great opportunities to see wildlife, including deer, beaver, and many bird species. The surrounding deciduous forest is especially beautiful during the fall foliage season. Harriman also features 200 miles of hiking trails, including a section of the Appalachian Trail, and camping facilities along the southern shoreline of Sebago.
Size: 294 acres
Info: Quiet Water New York, 2nd ed. (AMC Books); New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Lake Jean Ricketts Glen State  |  Park, Pa.
Located high in the mountains of Pennsylvania, Lake Jean, with its contoured shoreline, offers paddlers hours of exploration. Though the beach on the southeast shore can get crowded, the lake is large and its shoreline circuitous enough that you can easily find a secluded area to explore. Lake Jean is one of the state’s prime birding locations. There are boat launches on both the eastern and western ends of the lake, and campsites are available in the park for those making a multi-day adventure of their visit. If you have time and energy remaining, explore some of the park’s hiking trails. Ricketts Glen is known for its waterfalls, including 94-foot Ganoga Falls (the state’s second-highest).
Size: 245 acres
Info: Quiet Water New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania (AMC Books); Pennsylvania State Parks

Contributors: John Hayes, Kathy Kenley, Alex Wilson

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Marc Chalufour

Marc Chalufour, a former senior editor of AMC Outdoors, contributes to the trail-running blog Running Wild.