A little while back we decided to go on a paddle board trip at Webster Lake located not far from the northwestern border of Rhode Island and right near the northern border of Connecticut, in the town of Webster in Massachusetts. Webster Lake is the local name for this 1,270 acre body of water. The original name, Lake Chaubunagungamaug (translated: “Fishing Place at the Boundaries — Neutral Meeting Grounds”) is the diminutive form of the original Native American name given to these waters by the Nipmucs long before Europeans settled the area. That name is Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg and it is forty-five letters long, so long that the state even misspelled it on the sign for the lake! It is the longest name of any give destination in the United States, and probably the world.
Webster is a vibrant lake community with lots of development around the shores but still plenty of places for the public to access the water. The main area, Memorial Beach Park, has a large beach, boat ramps and shoreline fishing spots. There is a minor fee to park at MPB unless you have a town pass (we know someone who lives there so we had the pass). The park is very spacious and equipped with facilities and food stands. Access to the water was very easy as we parked right next to a small beach located on the inside of the cove. From there we paddled out around the first point, a lush peninsula of Elm and Oak, and then upwind towards the main part of the lake.
The weather on this particular day was erratic at best. There was lightning and thunder occurring on the northern hills just behind us, which gave us pause. The wind was blowing very hard out of the west bringing in big chunks of dark clouds. But interspersed throughout all of that nastiness were wide-open stretches of blue skies and bright sun. Having driven a good 45 minutes to get there (OMG!) (probably would have been a lot less had we ignored GPS and taken the highway) and being amply excited to explore the lake we decided to wait out the weather and try to make it happen. Consequently, our patience worked in our favor and the storms passed.
We stuck close to the shore paddling past nicely kept homes with green lawns, boating docks and kids playing everywhere. We then paddled through a short waterway and out towards the central body of the lake. I was struck by how many islands there were. In all, there are five main islands on Webster Lake and a few more that could better be described as “protrusions”. The main islands have homes, recreational camps, and other structures. Paddling around the lake you cannot help but think that this is a place that gets used. Even on a Monday morning we saw a considerable number of pontoon boats, speed boats, row boats, canoes, kayaks and even a couple of jet skiers. One such jet skier stalked us for a short time before riding up close and expressing how he so much would rather be on one of our SUPs. He truly looked like a defeated man and vowed to visit our shop so we could take him out for a paddle.
We continued paddling south towards the lower end of the lake. We passed through a narrow choke where two peninsulas jutting out from both sides almost meet and dissect the lake in two. We stopped and rested about halfway down into the lower section Webster and took a long, cool drink from our water bottles. A couple of guys were fishing from their canoes and a dog was barking somewhere off in the distance. The sun was baking me at that point and I threw myself over the side of the board and swam around in the cool water.
The paddle back was into the wind but it was not the heaviest of slogs that we have encountered in the past by a long shot. I was able to catch a good wake from a motorboat that was passing and surfed it out- that put a big grin on my face. Cathy was right behind me as we made it back to our little beach in the cove by where we parked.
The Webster Lake paddle board trip was a lot of fun. Easy access and a wide variety of inlets, coves, waterways and island passages made it very interesting to paddle. Plus, the extreme weather conditions at the beginning of our trip added a bit of adventure to the experience. If you are ever looking for a fun easy paddle consider Webster Lake. I am sure it will not be crowded as the summer months draw to a close.