Launching at Butt's Bridge and heading downstream to the dam and back again is a nice leisurely day trip of slightly more than 5 miles if you skip the coves.
But there are coves on both sides that are fun to explore. Most have a few houses and docks visible. There's plenty of wildlife including otters, muskrats, ospreys, beavers, egrets and bald eagles. There are also plenty of painted turtles sunning themselves on the numerous logs in the water and there are plenty of fish including small and large mouth bass, crappies, sunfish, pickerel, white and yellow perch and carp...big carp.
Conditions are easy enough though sometimes winds get funneled up the river on summer days and some wide open stretches make you work.
I've been a seasonal in the campground on the west shore for several years now and I've noted very low power boat traffic on weekdays and low to moderate power boat traffic on weekends. Mostly the power boats are fishermen though there is one guy down near the dam that runs a speed boat now and then.
I've never seen water skiing...probably too many logs in the water to be safe. This summer I've seen more jet skis than in past - but that means I've seen three jet skis in a day when I used to see none.
Many times I've been paddled the entire length of the pond from the dam to Butt's Bridge and not come across anyone else on the water - be they in a canoe, kayak or motorboat.
The campground in Lisbon has some nice tent sites right down at the water's edge and even a few waterfront sites with water, electric and cable TV hookups.
For a nice day paddle with a little more action, launch at the athletic fields in Canterbury where Rt. 14 crosses the Quinebaug. From there it's about 8 miles to the dam in Lisbon. There's some skinny rocky water at first - nothing too scary - then the river goes deeper and serpentine in the stretch just upstream from Butt's bridge. It's very pretty here - just woods and a few peeks at cornfields and Christmas tree farms here and there seen through the trees.
During high water there won't be any place to pull out until the boat launch at the Bridge - but in summer there are a few spots here and there where you can pull out and rest.
campground near dam in Lisbon
fees for campground
State owned launch off of Butt's Bridge Rd. which runs between routes 169 and 12 in Lisbon/Griswold.