8 Quiet Water Paddling Escapes
With winter receding, it’s time to plan your next paddling expedition. If you’re looking for a remote spot to drift, watch wildlife, and picnic on an isolated island, the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic are flush with opportunities, from Maine’s backwoods to the Adirondack wilderness. To help you pick a spot, we asked two authors of AMC’s Quiet Water book series for their favorites. Here’s where they recommend heading this spring, with canoe or kayak strapped to the car.
1. Lobster Lake | Piscataquis County, Maine
Lobster Lake, smaller but more remote than nearby Moosehead Lake, offers days of potential adventure. Park and put in off Golden Road then follow Lobster Stream south into the lake. From there, head to the campsites on Ogden Point or explore the Little Claw and Big Claw sections. Stretch your legs on a sandy beach or scout out 2,000-acre Big Island, which features dramatic cliffs and old-growth forest. Scan the water and the shoreline for two of Maine’s best-known species: loons and moose.
AREA: 3,475 acres
INFO: North Maine Woods Inc.; Quiet Water Maine, 3rd ed. (AMC Books)
2. Grafton Pond | Grafton, N.H.
Though modest in size, Grafton Pond is a favorite among New Hampshire quiet-water paddlers. Much of the surrounding forest is protected by Grafton Pond Reservation, giving the pond a remote feel (a few cabins on the western shore are easily avoided), while the jagged shoreline creates a series of inlets ripe for inspection. Launch your boat from the parking area on Grafton Pond Road. The deep waters, which drop as much as 66 feet, are home to smallmouth bass, while the marshy shoreline welcomes a wide variety of birds, including the loons that often nest on the pond’s small islands.
AREA: 235 acres
INFO: Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests; Quiet Water New Hampshire and Vermont, 3rd ed. (AMC Books)
3. Whitehall Reservoir | Hopkinton, Mass.
The coves and islands of this state-park reservoir near the Boston Marathon’s starting line will keep you enchanted for hours. From the boat launch on the northern shore, follow the forested bank lined with mountain laurel and highbush blueberry. Make your way west, where more blueberries grow on some of the islands. Trout, largemouth bass, and perch swim these waters, drawing scores of anglers in the summer; visit in spring for a more serene paddle.
AREA: 592 acres
INFO: Whitehall State Park; Quiet Water Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, 3rd ed. (AMC Books)
4. Worden Pond | South Kingston, R.I.
The northern shore of this pond, along the edge of Great Swamp Wildlife Management Area, provides some of Rhode Island’s nicest quiet-water paddling. You’ll find parking and a put-in on Wordens Pond Road, on the southern edge of the water. Once afloat, watch for a range of waterfowl species, many of which nest in the area, and check out the large boulders jutting into the water before stopping for a picnic at Stony Point. Paddlers can extend the trip by exploring the Chipuxet and Charles rivers, which connect with the pond in the northeast and northwest, respectively, and wind through Great Swamp. On windy days, stick to these sheltered rivers for protection.
AREA: 1,075 acres
INFO: Quiet Water Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, 3rd ed. (AMC Books)
5. Little Tupper Lake | Long Lake, N.Y.
Push off from the access point on Sabattis Road and leave all traces of civilization behind. Twenty miles of shoreline wrap around the lake to the south of the put-in, and quiet streams at the southwestern tip extend miles farther. The marshy surroundings provide habitat for wildlife, including otters, beavers, bald eagles, loons, and kingfishers. More than 20 campsites are scattered around the lake, which is within the William C. Whitney Wilderness Area.
AREA: 2,300 acres
INFO: Department of Environmental Conservation; Quiet Water New York, 2nd ed. (AMC Books)
6. Trap Pond | Laurel, Del.
Massive bald cypress trees emerge from the water in a habitat typical of much farther south. As you navigate around these giants, some more than 100 feet tall, watch for plentiful birds, as well as frogs, toads, and salamanders drawn here to breed. This pond’s small size belies its charm, and paddlers looking to stay on the water longer can venture down Terrapin Branch or Raccoon Pond water trails, which stretch into a freshwater swamp, all within Trap Pond State Park.
AREA: 90 acres
INFO: Trap Pond State Park; Quiet Water Mid-Atlantic (forthcoming from AMC Books)
7. Janes Island State Park | Crisfield, Md.
Thirty miles of tidal trails pass through the marshes and sheltered waters of this state park, situated on the eastern edge of Chesapeake Bay, with signs blazing each of six routes. Take in the vast sky as you paddle amid the tall grasses that grow in the park’s 2,900 acres of salt marsh and watch raptors feeding in the bay. Make sure to purchase a license beforehand if you plan to fish; you might also download the park map and, if you have a compatible device, a set of GPS waypoints from the park website below. This is a good pick for paddling newbies, with a kayak and canoe rental onsite.
DISTANCE: 30 miles
INFO: Maryland Park Service; Quiet Water Mid-Atlantic (forthcoming from AMC Books)
8. Powell’s Creek | Woodbridge, Va.
Nestled on the Maryland–Virginia border, Leesylvania State Park provides access to both the busy Potomac River and a quiet forest. Paddlers must launch directly into the Potomac, but you can quickly make your way under a railroad bridge into Powell’s Creek. Paddling inland, you’ll find a tranquil setting that’s home to a variety of birds. The park charges an admission fee ($5 to $9, depending on season and residency); canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards are available for rent during the summer.
DISTANCE: 6 miles round trip
INFO: Virginia State Parks; Quiet Water Mid-Atlantic (forthcoming from AMC Books)
Rachel Cooper, Alex Wilson