How to use a Lake Page
1. First review all the information provided on the page.
2. Using Google Earth and/or Google Maps, use the address and/or position we provide to carefully study the waters.  You can read our description and follow around the lake on the Maps. 
3. Review the State Pond Map, if there is one available. It provides bathemetry (the measurement of depth of water).  Here they are displayed as contour lines of the water depth.
4. Visit the Lake Association website, if available, for more information and any rules and restrictions.
5. Scout the paddle.   If possible, take a ride to the lake or pond ahead of time to scout out the waters.  This way there are no surprises.
6. Review the What To Bring  web page.
7. Get your gear together and have a great paddle.
8. Finally, after your paddle you could give us a review of your experiences.  Help us update information with additions or corrections.
This section contains information reproduced from the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game.  There may also be information from other sources including this website author.

Here you will find a general description of the Lake or Pond followed by a narrative of a paddle bringing you all the way around the water.  There may be additional information found in this section such as Summer Camps, State Forest/Park, Legends, History, and other facts of interest.  In many cases, a select button will be provided to the source of additional information.

These useful numbers give a quick glance of what you will be getting into:
1. Skill Level based on the International Scale of River Difficulty.  In the case of a Lake it will always be Class 1.  Very small rough areas, requires no maneuvering.  The only exception would be on windy days for large lakes where waves can build to levels requiring a high skill level.

2. Estimated Time:
This indicates the amount of time required to complete a full paddle with no breaks.  A good rule of thumb for canoes is one hour for each 3 miles.  For kayaks you can change it to one hour for each 4 miles.

3. Total Distance:
The edge of the lake or pond has been carefully measured using a mapping tool.  Your actual paddle will be something less than this circumference.  Note that the number of acres does not necessarily indicate the length of a paddle.

4. USGS Map:
Some people prefer to use a paper sectional map produced over a section of land created by the United States Geological Survey.  Each sectional map has a designated name which is provided here.  You can purchase these maps at Outfitters and certain sports shops.  You need to learn how to interpret the information on these maps.  It would take many pages here to explain it all.  Look for a good book on land navigation.

5. Launch Address:
This is the closest address to the put-in location for the paddle.  In some cases, there are unnamed roads, roads that are within a state forest, or roads that have so few buildings that an accurate address is impossible.  Also, in some cases there may be more than one location to put-in and take-out.  The assumption is that you have a GPS in your car and are using this to travel to the location.  Enter the address into your GPS to navigate too.  Some vehicle GPSs allow you to enter a longitude and lattitude (see below for details).  In these cases, you will be able to navigate with 60 feet of the launch area.  It is useful to cut and paste the address into Google Maps or Google Earth online to find the location ahead of time.

6. Position:
Latitude and Longitude with an accuracy of one hundredth of a minute.   This position is universal making it unique to any other in the world.  Use it on maps and online in Google Earth.  With the positions I give, Latitude translates into an accuracy of about 60 feet and for Longitude almost half that for our Latitude.  Remember, each degree has 60 minutes and one minute of Latitude = 1852 meters = 6076.1155 feet.  Look for more information about coordinates at the following links. 


7. Boat Launch:
A one line description of the launch area.
Physical Features
The purpose here is to give some simple information that reflects the type of water body.  Information is from Massachusetts Government agencies or from a federal government source when appropriate.  Some lakes have no published information regarding depth and transparency.  You will either find these missing or no value given.
Area: in acres
Max Depth: The maximum depth of the Lake, Pond, or Reservoir.
Average Depth:  The average depth found.
Transparency:  The distance in the water that objects can easily be seen.
Terrain Type:  This indicates the surrounding land and what you can expect to see.  If it says numerous homes than don’t expect a wilderness experience.
Fish Population:
Information from the Massachusetts Fish and Game has been compiled for fishing.  The date of the last survey is indicated.  A list of game species found in the lake is listed.  Sometimes there are comments included.  The unfortunate part of these surveys is that they are very old.  Most are about 35 years old with some being even older.
Put-In directions:
For those who are not using a vehicle GPS and the address provided above, a list of directions, distance, and time had been provided from a major easily found location.  (i.e. a interstate exit, etc.)
Images take in and around the paddle
A picture is often better than a thousand words.  The author has provided actual images taken at the paddle sight.  They include such things as Boat Ramps, Dams, Distant Views, and key locations.
Imbeded Google Earth
Used this tool to zoom and pan on the actual area to be paddled.  In the upper left are controls to change between Map and Satellite view.  In the upper left you can select a small man icon that can be dragged to a road location that will allow you to view from road level.  For a larger view with more controls, go to Google Earth or better still, download and install the Google Earth application.

Partial USGS Sectional Map 
Below all the written information on the Lake Page is a partial USGS Map.  This map has marks on the side indicating longitude and latitude.   We have added enhancements have been added with symbols and text for improved use.  At the bottom margin is a  milage scale and a indication of the direction of True North and Magnetic North so that a handheld compass can be used with a print out of this map.
Map Tools
Information Sources – The state provides significant information on Lakes and Rivers in the Bay State.  They have provided pdf files that can be downloaded and printed of the most significant lakes and ponds.  I have provided links to each of these maps.
Army Corp of Engineers – These reservoirs have been developed primarily for flood control.  Their waterways, dams, lakes and ponds, and surrounding lands are all federal maintained.  Links to information on the websites have been provided when appropriately.
Google Earth – If you have not downloaded and installed this excellent software, do it now!  You can zoom in and out, click on images posted by people, on many main roads you can enter the road level allowing you to travel down a road and view how things actually look if you were there.  I used it to confirm the accuracy of put-in/take-out positions and addresses.
Google Maps – An online tool that can help you plan your travel route and travel time to the addresses provided.
TOPO – The New England version.  I have received permission by email from National Geographic to reproduce maps from their software.  This software provides detail information by using mapping tools.  Digital versions of USGS (United States Geological Survey) Maps seamlessly allows a user to view any location in the United States.  Each Lake page has a map of the lake using this tool.  Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, the software is no longer being sold by them.  If you can find a copy then install it and use it.
Town and City Websites – These local government websites are a great source of information that is not available anywhere else.
Lake Associations – More and More residents around lakes have established a ruling authority so that the best interest for a lake or pond is addressed.  These associations consider the health of the lake and the uses that are authorized.  I have provided links to the websites for you.
Hand held GPS - I have a handheld GPS that is waterproof.  I take it with me to navigate as well as a record of the paddle trip.  Most GPS are WAAS enabled which allow accuracy as much as one meter (about 3 feet).  I upload the crum trail (a record of every position from the paddle) to the TOPO software to compare with the USGS Map for accuracy. (FYI, the “crum trail” idea comes from Hansel and Gretal story)  I will provide more information on GPS later.  Look for a good book or websites for detailed information.  You could always take a course in navigation!
Our Own Notes – We give some of our own experiences of a given paddle.  Of course it is subjective!