Not all boat launches are created equal.
To the left is the one next to the Cribstone Bridge. You pay to park and then hand carry your boat(s) to the shore. A trailer can drop off and load a motorized craft as well. Some of the launch sites are free, some are free to launch but charge for parking, and some charge for parking and launching. Some are private, others public, and others private but public.
Some launches are paved or concrete, others sand or gravel, and others not maintained at all. But the rule is - motors have priority, and hand carried boaters should always look out for them. Plan your launch and not to use a driveable launch for more than five minutes. Don't put your boat(s) on a dock unless you know its allowed. Heed the parking signs - if a sign says, "No Parking" believe it.
Alice’s Picks for Launch Sites for Hand Carried Boats within 30 miles of Brunswick
Porter’s Landing. Concrete Ramp with dirt parking lot. Tidal put in so don’t go within the last hour and one-half of low tide unless you want a mud walk. Easy paddle into the Harraseeket River heading toward Bartol Island and Wolf’s Neck. You can paddle past the harbor and out to Stockbridge Point across from Moore Point and into Casco Bay. Maine Atlas Map 6 C1
Winslow Memorial Park (Stockbridge Point). Paved ramp only good for ½ to full tide. 207 865 4198. This is tidal so be prepared for a long walk through mud if you don’t time the tides. This park is free for Freeport residents and a small fee for non-residents. Great place to play with children and camp. It faces Moshier Island and is open to SW breezes in the afternoon. Maine Atlas Map 6 D1
Yarmouth Town Landing Paved, all tide fee launch. 207 846-3333. Launch and paddle the Royal River. Stay out of the marked channel whenever possible as boats with motors and keels need the marked channel. The Royal River leads out to Lanes Island and into Casco Bay. A quick left at the end will take you up the Cousins River. Stop at the Marsh Bridges (RT 1 and 295 pass here) and eat at the Muddy Rudder Restaurant. You can tie off at their dock. If you don’t feel like paddling back (a six mile paddle in one direction) you can stage a shuttle from the starting point. Maine Atlas Map 5 D5
Yarmouth Water Works in the center of town. Park away from the building and across from the Royal River town park. Launch and paddle under the railroad bridge heading north on the meandering Royal River. Totally flatwater heading towards Gray, ME. You can turn around anywhere. Maine Atlas Map 5 D5
Cousins Island. Cross the bridge connecting Cousins Island to the mainland and look for a small sign saying “beach”. Park in the parking lot and hand carry your boat to the beach on Sandy Point. Beware of the tide if you don’t like long carries and the afternoon winds. Paddle around the island and Little John Island, Little Moshier, Moshier or to land on Little Chebeague (public). There is a shipwreck to be seen on the eastern side near Little John Island. Maine Atlas Map 6 D1
Falmouth Town Landing. Paved, all tide fee launch ramp. 207 781-7317. Maine Atlas Map 5 E5
East End Public Launch. Paved, all tide fee launch ramp. 207 874-8793. A busy but favorite launch for those wishing to day visit Ft. Gorges or the islands of Great Diamond, Little Diamond, House or Peaks. Beware of boating traffic especially the ferries and working boats - who have their own launch ramp. Do not launch from the beach where people are swimming. Maine Atlas Map 5 E5
Kettle Cove State Park. Tidal, hand carry, unpaved launch across a beach, paved parking lot. Don’t launch at the paved launch, but across the beach. Richmond Island is a careful day use destination. Beware of the outside of Richmond Island and around to the North toward Two Light State Park where the waves can be quite large. Maine Atlas Map 3 B5
Scarborough Marsh. Largest Maine salt marsh with a mini museum, visitor activities. Bring a shorter boat so that you can turn around when winding through the marshes. Great birding but beware of the tides – high tide the marsh is flooded while at low tide navigation shrinks to three shallow channels. Maine Atlas Map 3 B3
Pine Point Beach. Pay $10 per car for parking and launch right on the beach and paddle down to Old Orchard Beach or up the coastline over to Prouts Neck Bird Sanctuary. The waves break near shore so paddling out a bit is easier. Maine Atlas Map 3, B3
BRUNSWICK: No overnight parking allowed at any launch. All launches are free.
Mill Street. Seasonal hand carry launch onto the upper Androscoggin River. Great fishing and birding. See old carriages used to collect pulp wood during the spring log floats. Easy three mile paddle upstream to the Pejepscot Dam and back. 207 725 6631. Maine Atlas Map 6 C3
Water St. Boat Ramp. Paved all tide launch on to the lower and tidal Androscoggin River leading to Merrymeeting Bay. 207 725-6631 Tides here are different, so check tide tables but they usually are 4 hours later for low tide and 2.5 hours later for high tide than Portland. Maine Atlas Map 6 B3
Baybridge Landing. Unpaved, half tide launch ramp. This ramp puts you directly on Merrymeeting Bay, but to get to this launch you have to go through Baybridge Trailer Park. This is tidal as is Merrymeeting Bay. Shallow Merrymeeting Bay is beautiful and full of birds during spring and fall migrations but during low tides there will be sand bars to cross. Maine Atlas Map 6 B4
Sawyer Park. Paved all tide launch. 207 725-6631 This launch is tidal on the New Meadows River. Head south and go into Thomas Bay and then right to Thomas Point Beach. Beware of the tides (allow 1.5 hours before or after low tide) and you may land your kayak on the far right side of the beach beyond the steps. Seasonal bathroom facilities and snack bar. Do not go during concerts or other park events. Maine Atlas Map 6 C4
New Meadow’s Lakes. Unpaved, launch ramp. This is a quiet paddle that is fun. Shallow tidal water on “three interconnected lakes” that are divided by roads and railroad tracks. If you head north into the marshes to the head of the New Meadow’s river you will be less than ½ mile from Merrymeeting Bay. Parking is on the shoulder. Maine Atlas Map 6 B4
Mere Point. Paved all tide launch. 207 725-6631 Head north to Paul’s Marina for ice-cream , sandwiches, or lobster rolls or south to the Gosling’s for a picnic lunch. No overnight parking. This is a busy launch so unload your boats on the grass and prepare them, before taking them down the ramp and launching as fast as possible. Beware of the afternoon SW winds and the waves at the end of Mere Point that are caused by winds crossing from Freeport to Harpswell. Maine Atlas Map 6 D2
Prince's Point Rd. Paved all tide launch. This small launch is just before Gurnet Strait and has no facilities. It is tidal and affected by the draining of Buttermilk Cove so there can be a current. Paddle out through Long Reach, past Doughty Pt and Prince's Point and head down Ewin Narrows towards Harpswell Sound. Wonderful day trip. DO NOT GO THROUGH Gurnet Strait unless at totally slack tides in both directions. Maine Atlas Map 6 C4
Bowdoinham Town Landing. Paved all tide free launch ramp on the Cathance River. Follow the river flow to Merrymeeting Bay. Easy paddling and great birding. If you head upstream for a number of rambling miles you'll come to a set of falls. Maine Atlas Map 6 A4
Cathance River. Unpaved hand carry launch onto the Upper Cathance River from Old Augusta Road almost under the RT 295 overpass. Paddle upstream to Bradley Pond and discover the quiet of backwater paddling with no amenities. Sometimes there is nowhere to get out of your boat during your 2.5 hour upstream paddle. You'll pass beaver hutches, cross a few nearly destroyed dams and have to cross a well built one (possibly having to get out). Water lilies are abundant and the resident Great Blue Heron may guide you upstream. Maine Atlas Map 6 B3
Lookout Point. Paved all tide launch. 207 833-6620. Facing Birch Island this launch puts you on Middle Bay ready to head to the Goslings for lunch or the Little Birch Island. If you want to circumnavigate Birch Island do it on the upper half of the tide. Limited parking. Maine Atlas Map 6 D3
Dolphin Marina. Paved, all tide fee launch ramp and parking. 207 833-5343. Great launch site for a quick trip to Whaleboat Island to camp or to Eagle Island (home of Admiral Peary, explorer of the North Pole). This is a fee based state park. Maine Atlas Map 6 E2
Bethel Point Road. Paved, all tides fee launch ramp. 207 725-8145 Easy paddle to Raspberry Island, Cundy’s Harbor, the Basin or Malaga Island. Malaga Island has much history and a new interpretive trail. Land on the northeast beach to access the island trails. Maine Atlas Map 6 D4
Cundy's Harbor. All tides launch with limited parking when the working fishermen leave some spaces. It is off Holbrook Street (not Holbrook dock). Easy paddle to Malaga Island, Sebasco, Wood Island, Carrying Place Cove or North to the head of the New Meadows River and anther public launch (Brunswick Sawyer Park). If you don't have parking, leave the boats and drive back up and park at the church and walk back. Maine Atlas Map 6 D4
Two public launches, but neither is recommended for paddled boats unless you time the tide and the currents exactly. Maine Atlas Map 6 B4 & C4.
Head Beach connecting Hermit Island to mainland. Unpaved all tide seasonal fee launch. Carry across the sand dunes to the beach and head North to circumnavigate Hermit Island (be on a coming tide), or explore West Point to Harbor Island to Malaga Island. The exposed beach can have small surf when landing. Maine Atlas Map 6 E4.
RT 1 Boat Launch, upper half tide launch. Explore the Nequasset Brook salt marshes out to Pleasant Cove and the Back River. Do not go under the bridge heading to the Kennebec River. Maine Atlas Map 6 B5
Nequasset Lake. Hand carry launch. Nequasset Lake is pretty. Maine Atlas Map 6 B5.
Town Landing all tide paved launch. Kayakers normally launch from shore. Paddle north on the Sheepscot River under RT 1 and under the RR trestle up to the Reversing Falls or meander by Cunningham Island to the Marsh River to Sherman Lake rest stop on RT 1. Maine Atlas Map 7 A1.