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Knickerbocker Lake, in Maine's Mid-Coast Region, is a picture of north country serenity. Less than five miles from well-known Boothbay Harbor, Knickerbocker's tranquil waters belie the busy seaports just a few miles away. Originally two separate bodies of water called Knickerbocker Ponds, someone dug channels across the few short feet separating the two. The newly-enlarged body of water is now accessible to the kayaks and canoes that carry fishermen and nature lovers along the wooded shoreline. As boats on the lake are limited to motors less than nine horsepower, no powerboats break the silence in the early morning fog. The heavily-wooded shoreline hides the many cottages and private homes built along the shore. One can envision summer residents peacefully watching the dawn break from their decks while they sip their morning coffee. Fishermen travel here to access the lake via the public access at the water pumping station. Otherwise, it is just nature and the neighbors at their cottages also enjoying the quiet lake.
At 105 acres, Knickerbocker Lake is the perfect size for a quiet, very private vacation. Several small inlets and outlets help drain water from Maine's interior down to the sea. Less than a mile to the west, a finger of water leads out into Sheepscot Bay. Both Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor are within five miles, with conveniences and attractions that lure visitors to explore their history and current delights. Here at Knickerbocker Lake, it can all seem so far away. Luckily for the discerning visitor, there are vacation rentals on the lake in the form of small housekeeping cottages and more elaborate lakefront homes. Knickerbocker Lake makes an ideal base camp for visits to the coast and the delightful small towns on the BoothBay Peninsula.
Swimming is popular at Knickerbocker Lake, along with nature hikes and paddling the shoreline. Fishermen pursue brook and brown trout, largemouth bass and perch. Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife regularly stocks trout in the lake. Children will especially love searching the shallows for minnows, turtles and the occasional frog. The wooded setting encourages deer, wild turkeys, raccoon, rabbits, fox and moose. Bald eagles are often seen soaring above the treetops and a wide variety of song birds and waterfowl visit the lake on a regular basis. In winter, the lake is popular as an ice fishing destination. The area is well-supplied with trails and paths for hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and mountain biking.
Only a few miles from Knickerbocker Lake, the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens provides some of the most beautiful grounds for the visitor's enjoyment. Miles of trails lead the visitor to experience ornamental gardens, waterfalls, exceptional natural beauty, incomparable stonework and sculpture, waterfront and woodlands. A full schedule of educational events, art exhibits and culinary delights featuring world-famous chefs and herbs and produce grown in the Kitchen Gardens means something is always going on to pique the visitor's interest.
Heading south from Knickerbocker Lake, Boothbay Harbor provides all of the charm of a historical working fishing harbor. Many of the villages here have historically survived by fishing. Although commercial fishing has declined, lobster is king. The lobster boats set out every morning as they have for generations, bringing back a bountiful harvest of the delectable crustaceans for dining delicacies world-wise. Nowhere on earth are the lobster more plentiful or more fresh. Boothbay Harbor abounds with specialty dining establishments in historic surroundings, with Maine coast views and plenty of reasonably-priced lobster - the town's chief crop. As commercial fishing has declined, Boothbay Harbor has become a world-choice destination of seacoast fans. Full-service marinas cater to privately-owned yachts and pleasure boats. The rugged Maine coast is a favored location for photographers and artists, many of whom manage galleries in the harbor area. Here, it's possible to find gallery tours so the visitor will never bypass the best local finds. Boats can be rented at the local marinas - sea kayaking is a favorite. There are spots for fishing along the rocky shoreline where visitors may try to hook a striped bass. Or, charter fishing can be arranged on short notice. Sightseeing cruises are available by schooner or excursion boat. Up to seven lighthouses can be seen in the Boothbay region - many have tours. In summer, one can take the ferry to Squirrel Island, a summer-only colony where cars are forbidden and most of the cottages date from the late 1800s.
There are so many things to see and do in the Knickerbocker Lake region that it's best to plan your daily itinerary over coffee at your rental lodgings and leave with a list so as not to get distracted by the many interesting sights along the way. The Maine State Aquarium in West Boothbay Harbor is a highly educational activity with native fish, sea and shore life and even a shark 'touch-tank'. The Boothbay Railway Village holds restored buildings, a variety of antique cars and a wealth of antique railroading equipment and rolling stock. Train rides are available most week-ends in summer. The Boothbay Harbor Opera House produces musical events all summer and the Boothbay Playhouse presents Broadway favorites in a summer theatre setting. A visit to the Boothbay Region Historical Society helps place the many sights and activities in a historic perspective.
The Boothbay Peninsula holds nearly a dozen wildlife preserves so no matter which direction you go from Knickerbocker Lake, you are sure to be able to experience Maine's natural inhabitants, be they animals, birds or plants. Always be on the look-out for the famed Maine moose that seem to appear at the most unexpected moments. For this reason, it is best to drive slowly on back-country roads. And, in nearly any direction, you can explore isolated tidal pools and ocean vistas so be sure to take your camera.
Several options exist at Knickerbocker Lake for vacation lodgings, although reservations are highly recommended. The entire peninsula is well-supplied with quaint bed-and-breakfasts, centuries-old lodges and specialty resort properties near the coast. Real estate is available, often with fabulous views lakefront or seacoast views. If you've never visited the rugged Maine coast before, you are in for the treat of a lifetime. Be forewarned, however - Knickerbocker Lake could quickly become an annual family tradition.
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