adventures

Boating Damariscotta Lake, Maine

Text & Photography by Tom Richardson
Damariscotta Lake State Park features a swimming beach.

Damariscotta Lake serves as a freshwater alternative to the busy recreational boating destinations of coastal Maine. The ramp is just a short distance from coastal Rte. 1, and there are plenty of places to explore in a kayak, canoe, powerboat, sailboat or SUP.

A good launch ramp allows powerboat access.

The lake spans 4,600 acres and boasts clear water with excellent visibility. Major hazards are marked, and depths range to more than 100 feet. Anglers should know that the lake contains landlocked salmon, brown trout, smallmouth bass, and white perch, and is well known for its run of alewives. The young-of-the-year herring that use the lake as a nursery provide a rich food source for the aforementioned game fish.

 The 13-mile-long lake is broken up into three basins, or bays: one in the southwest, one to the southeast and one (the biggest) to the north. All are connected by a constriction known as The Narrows, which is also where the most boating activity can be found.

Davis Stream in Jefferson is a beautiful spot to paddle.

The deep north basin features lots of open water for water-skiing, tubing and kneeboarding, and is also a great spot for sailing. Boaters and paddlers in the North Basin can also sneak into Davis Stream, a beautiful waterway flanked by water lilies and tall marsh grass. The stream winds below the Rte. 32 bridge and past the Jefferson General Store, where you can dock up for lunch or an ice cream.

Also in the North Basin, just east of Davis Stream, is 17-acre Damariscotta Lake State Park, which features picnic tables with grills, a sandy swimming beach, and a large playground.

Note that there are no marinas or fuel docks on the lake, so make sure you are self-sufficient and have plenty of fuel.

Damariscotta is marked by seasonal buoys that warn of obstructions and hazards. A no-wake zone exists in The Narrows, where the three embayments meet.

A concrete-slab state ramp with ample parking can be found on the southwest side of the lake, off Rte. 213. No fee.

Paddleboarders have a blast in the lake's warm, clear water.