Damariscotta Lake, Maine, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - New England - Maine - Mid-Coast -

Damariscotta Lake is a sprawling lake in Lincoln County, Maine. This freshwater lake covers 4,381 acres in surface area and is a mere 51 feet above sea level. Formed more than 10,000 years ago during the last Ice Age, this glacial lake has one of the most convoluted shorelines of all of Maine’s many lakes. Damariscotta Lake is found in the Mid-Coast Region of Maine, close to the Atlantic Ocean, and only about 23 miles from the capital city of Augusta and 41 miles from Portland.

Davis Stream, at the head of the lake in Jefferson, is the primary source of water for Damariscotta Lake, flowing in from the north; the Damariscotta River directly to the south receives the majority of the outflow, although there are some small pond outlets as well. There is a hardwood flood plain forest on Davis Stream, which can be accessed from the Damariscotta Lake Park Beach.

Damariscotta Lake State Park is a 17-acre area in Jefferson, on the northeastern side of Damariscotta Lake. It’s a popular area for its picnic grounds, including access to grills and picnic tables, as well as a sandy beach and a large playground. This state park, along with most every attraction in this region, is family friendly, encouraging parents and families to bring their children to enjoyable and often educational outdoor activities and sporting opportunities. Although there is no public boat launch in this state park, many are located nearby on the lake. Swimming in the park is allowed and encouraged, and canoes, kayaks, and rowboats are often seen in the water there.

Damariscotta Lake is the largest lake in Lincoln County, and it’s divided into three main basins. The North Basin has a maximum depth of 114 feet and a surface area of 2,129 acres. The Middle Basin is connected to the North Basin through a slim channel called the Narrows; the Middle Basin is 80 feet at its deepest and has 1,463 acres of surface area. The South Basin is the smallest and shallowest: its deepest point is only 38 feet with a surface area of 789 acres. Although the Narrows is a no-wake zone, paddle boats, kayaks, canoes, and rowboats are allowed in the area. Boaters who are interested can navigate the full length of the lake in smaller man-powered watercraft.

Damariscotta Lake is known for its elegant fish ladder, first built in 1807 after it was realized that the large population of spawning alewives had not successfully reached the sought-after freshwater lake since the concrete Damariscotta Mills Dam had been built in 1730–although they continued to try. The fish ladder is still maintained today, and it is currently undergoing a restoration project to make sure it remains optimally useful to the large population of alewives that doggedly attempt to use it each spring. To ascend the 42-foot climb, a group of stepped pools was constructed, allowing the fish to leap from one small pool to the next in order to achieve their ultimate goal of reaching Damariscotta Lake. Although the fish ladder has worked well throughout the years, the current project hopes to fully renovate it and keep it serviceable for years to come. Damariscotta Mills Dam is one of only two remaining dams in the Damariscotta Watershed; it is still used for power generation, though the original mill for which is was constructed is no more. It was noted in 1995 that more than 100,000 alewives entered Damariscotta Lake through the Damariscotta fish ladder–one of the largest runs in the state of Maine.

Damariscotta Lake is bordered by three Maine towns: Newcastle to the west, Nobleboro to the east, and Jefferson to the north. Nobleboro, known locally as “the little town with the big heart,” and other local villages, are very interested in ecological preservation, including controlling invasive plant and animal species in Damariscotta Lake. As fishing is a large attraction, with a wide variety of cold- and warmwater fish both being in supply, it’s important to keep the lake water healthy. Landlocked salmon, brown trout, lake trout, white perch, yellow perch, chain pickerel, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, and rainbow smelt are all there for an angler to seek. The local residents show a profound respect for their natural surroundings and encourage all manner of environmental improvements that maximize the potential for sustainable living.

For the archaeologist vacationer, the Whaleback Shell Midden, in Damariscotta, is a unique attraction that has been showcased in recent years. A mountainous pile of discarded oyster shells, left by Native Americans more than 1,000 years ago, was dubbed the Whaleback Shell Midden due to its shape–at its peak, it resembled a beached whale on the shore. Over time, the quantity of shells decreased as they were hauled away and ground up to become an ingredient in chicken feed. However, there is still a significant midden there today, and other activities and attractions have been put in place to make the feature worth a day trip. Bird watching is popular there, and there is a large orchard. A scenic hiking trail has been established for those interested in a relaxing afternoon of natural beauty to go with this interesting remnant of human history.

Damariscotta Lake is surrounded by many other Maine lakes, including Clary Lake to the northwest, Duckpuddle Pond to the southeast, Long Pond to the north, and Medomak Pond to the northeast. This area is very popular among travelers, with its showcase of spectacular countryside and idyllic lakes. New Hampshire’s White Mountains are not far across the border and offer downhill skiing for winter enthusiasts. Throughout the area, fishing, sailing, swimming, boating, water skiing, and more are all popular pastimes. It’s common to see sailboats on the lake, along with kayaks, canoes, rowboats, water skiers and water tubers being pulled by high-power speedboats. Organized hikes are popular, and hikers and walkers who want to explore on their own have endless options, with dozens of established trails to trek. Winter activities include snowmobiling cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, ice skating, and ice fishing. Annual fall events include an apple festival and a pumpkin festival. Wildlife is varied and abundant around Damariscotta Lake. The area boasts one of the most prolific populations of breeding loons in southern Maine. Other fowl include osprey, bald eagles, ducks, and Canada geese. Beavers, deer, coyote, otter, and moose are not uncommon–it’s just a matter of being in the right place at the right time to happen to be able to see one in its natural habitat.

Tourism is a main source of economy in this area, so it’s no wonder that vacationing around Damariscotta Lake is filled with choice accommodations. Real estate is available here, with prime properties on the lakes for sale, just waiting for a new owner to fill the waiting rooms with life. Chain hotels and motels, private inns and bed and breakfasts, small cabins and quaint cottages, large lakefront homes with walls of windows that overlook breathtaking scenery and vibrant sunrises or sunsets–all of these are options for the weekender, the holiday maker, and the long-term vacationer. It’s a matter of deciding which option best suits the needs of the traveler, because so many choices, from cozy two-bedroom apartments in charming small towns to forest lodges for the whole extended family, make the decision about which vacation rental is best the most difficult part of planning a vacation in Mid-Coast Maine.

Things to do at Damariscotta Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Ice Skating
  • Downhill Skiing
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • Playground

Fish species found at Damariscotta Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Brown Trout
  • Chain Pickerel
  • Lake Trout
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Pickerel
  • Pike
  • Salmon
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Smelt
  • Trout
  • White Perch
  • Yellow Perch

Damariscotta Lake Photo Gallery

Damariscotta Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Surface Area: 4,381 acres

Shoreline Length: 45 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 51 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 48 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 59 feet

Average Depth: 30 feet

Maximum Depth: 114 feet

Water Volume: 87,801 acre-feet

Lake Area-Population: 5,800

Drainage Area: 57 sq. miles

Trophic State: Oligotrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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