2018 Paddle-A-Thon Topsfield, MA

On Saturday, June 16, 2018 the Ipswich River Watershed Association held their 3rd annual paddling event at the Topsfield Fairgrounds to benefit the beautiful, but endangered, Ipswich River.

More than 130 paddling enthusiasts gathered for a day of fun to support efforts to protect the Ipswich River and its wildlife.

A 4-mile morning group paddle, followed by lunch, live music and an afternoon canal race kept all the guests busy and entertained while raising funds and awareness for the river.

It was our first time paddling the Ipswich River, and our first time paddling this year, and what a day it turned out to be.  Sunny skies and perfect temperatures made for a leisurely day exploring the river, making new friends and paddling for a worthy cause.

The folks at the Ipswich River Watershed Association work hard at promoting the ecological and recreational value of the Ipswich River and we applaud their dedication and continuing commitment to the health of the river.

We encourage all paddlers to learn more about the Ipswich River Watershed Association and hopefully join them in protecting this valuable local river, its tributary streams and its estuary.

Ipswich-River-Paddle-A-Thon
Be a champion for the river!

We certainly plan on paddling the Ipswich River estuary this year and hope to learn more about these local waters and the recreational opportunities they provide.

Have you paddled the Ipswich River estuary?

To learn more about the Ipswich River and several of its paddling routes please refer to the links below.

Ipswich River Watershed AssociationClick Here

Middleton  Stream TeamClick Here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kayaking the Lower Merrimack River – A Free Presentation – June 7, 2018

Have you always wanted to kayak the tidal areas of the lower Merrimack River but lack the confidence to do so?  Do you long to explore the creeks and salt marshes of the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge but question whether you have the necessary skills required to paddle these tricky waters?

Well you’re not alone, but all that is about to change.  Attend a free presentation that will boost your knowledge, increase your confidence and provide an opportunity to meet other kayakers interested in paddling this scenic tidal area.

Parker-River-Wildlife-Refuge-At-Dusk
Parker River Wildlife Refuge at dusk

The Merrimack River Watershed Council is offering  a free program, Kayaking the Lower Merrimack River, presented by Ken Taylor, the owner of Plum Island Kayak.  Ken is a highly regarded, highly experienced kayaker who will teach you tips and tricks designed to help you safely paddle the lower Merrimack River area.

This free program will be presented Thursday, June 7 at 6:30 p.m. at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge headquarters, Plum Island Turnpike, Newburyport., MA.  No reservations required.

PARKER RIVER NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE Click Here

DIRECTIONS Click Here

 

Kayaking Chocorua Lake – Tamworth, NH

The beautiful views of Mt. Chocorua, clear water, and the fact motors are not allowed here, are the top reasons to kayak Chocorua Lake and its adjoining neighbor, Little Lake.  At only 222 acres, Chocorua Lake is small and shallow but its views are large, reason enough to paddle here.

Although Rte. 16 traffic can often be heard from the lake, once you paddle out into the middle, or over to the western side of the lake, you’ll feel like your paddling a much more secluded body of water.

If you love mountain views as much as I do, its a fantastic place to paddle for a couple of hours, or longer, if you decide to have lunch and swim.

WHY PADDLE HERE?For mountain scenery, exercise, relaxation, family fun or a fall foliage paddle.

THE PADDLING ROUTE – We launched into Chocorua Lake from one of the several access spots adjacent to the parking area.  Once on the water, we couldn’t resist immediately paddling to the center of the lake to take in the wonderful views of Mt. Chocorua and its surrounding peaks.

We paddled across the lake, along the westerly shore and under the bridge into Little Lake.  We paddled around Little Lake for a while and then back under the bridge returning to Chocorua Lake.  We paddled along Chocorua’s eastern shore and then back to the middle one last time before landing back where we launched.

CAUTIONS! – Winds and rapidly changing weather.  Also, be careful of the bees when paddling near the pickerelweed in adjoining Little Lake.

PARKING & LAUNCH – Chocorua Lake Conservancy owns and maintains the public access to Chocorua Lake located on the east side of the lake along Old Route 16 where you will find parking and several areas to access the lake.  There are more parking and access areas on the southern end of the lake near the bridge to Little Lake.  Watch the signage to avoid parking in the Tamworth residents only section.

RESTROOMS- Yes, there are portable toilets located at both parking areas.

WHEN TO VISIT- Anytime during spring, summer or fall is a great time to paddle here.  Parking spaces are more prevalent during early morning or late afternoon hours.

NH FISH AND GAME MAP – Click Here –

DIRECTIONS – Click Here –

Kayaking Contoocook River- Concord, NH

This section of the Contoocook River running from Contoocook Village, NH to the Contoocook Canoe Co. in Concord, NH is a 9 mile journey along a tree-lined river replete with fallen trees and limbs to avoid.  If you’re lucky, you may see some wildlife, Canada Geese, Blue Heron, turtles and eagles are occasionally spotted here. The high river banks and feeling of seclusion will make you forget you’re so close to the city.

WHY PADDLE HERE?  For a leisurely 9 mile paddle on a tree-lined river, a shorter family paddle to Daisy Beach or a fall foliage paddle.

THE PADDLING ROUTE – We rented a tandem kayak from the Contoocook Canoe Co.  9 Horse Hill Rd. Concord, NH opting for their 9 mi./14.5 km. one way trip.  What a value at only $30 for 2 paddlers and 1 tandem kayak, including transportation.  After the usual safety briefing, we were shuttled upriver to the Contoocook Village kayak launch by a very helpful employee who carried our kayak down the short, but steep, embankment to the river launch site.

Once launching, our group began paddling downriver and within a couple of minutes, we encountered what would be the first of many fallen trees and branches congesting the river.

We continued paddling downriver taking our time, always on the lookout to avoid the next sunken tree or limb.

After paddling several miles, we were ready to pull over and stretch our legs, but most of the river is tree-lined, with high banks and few places to pull over.  The few decent spots we did eye, were already filled with other kayakers and we were forced to continue paddling until reaching Daisy Beach at the 7 mi./11.2 km. mark.

Thank goodness for Daisy Beach,  a welcome relief after a long paddle without a break.  By the time we arrived, we were more than ready to ditch the kayak and eat lunch sitting in our comfortable camp chairs, yes, that’s right, camp chairs.  I can’t emphasize enough how much of a difference having chairs can make during a long paddling trip, or any paddling trip, especially as you age.

Excluding the Wilderness Girls paddlers, I’ve never seen any other paddlers bring chairs with them and I often wonder why.  Which would you rather sit on, the ground, your kayak or a perfectly comfortable chair?  Call me a wooss if you like, but I’ll always choose a chair over sitting on the ground.

Stow one in your kayak hatch, or under the bungee cords on your deck if you can, but always bring a chair, it really does make a difference.

We rested and ate lunch at Daisy Beach, which I would describe as a  sweet little riverfront swimming hole. It has a couple of picnic tables and a rope swing.  The rope swing appears to be popular among the locals and provided entertainment for the rest of us.

We finished our lunch and re-launched for the final leg of the trip, an easy 2 mi./3.2 km. paddle bringing us directly back to the Contoocook Canoe Co.’s own riverfront launch site.  The staff awaits your arrival, they’re eager to help you exit your kayak and carry your personal belongings back to your car for you.  Bring cash to tip the staff, they deserve it.

The only wildlife we saw during this trip was a flock of Canada Geese on the side of the river as we silently paddled by.

I’m not sure how I feel about this trip, 7 miles is just too long for me to paddle without a guaranteed place to break.  I most likely won’t ever paddle here again, but on the off-chance I do, it will be during fall foliage and I will launch directly from the canoe company’s own put-in, enabling me to paddle upriver to Daisy Beach and beyond, paddling only as far as I choose to go.

In my opinion, the lower section of this trip is much more enjoyable to paddle with fewer obstacles to avoid, but there is a trade-off, unlike the upper section, it has less nature and some development, which personally, I don’t mind.  Every paddler has different likes and dislikes, so you’ll just have to judge this trip for yourself.

CAUTIONS!  Watch out for the numerous fallen trees, branches, rocks and debris at, or just below, the waterline.  In the busy season, be prepared to paddle almost the entire trip without a break as you may not be able to find an unoccupied space to land before reaching Daisy Beach, at the 7mi./11.2km. mark. 

PARKING & LAUNCH There is plenty of parking at the Contoocook River Canoe Co. where we rented a tandem kayak for this trip.  We took a shuttle to the launch site at Contoocook Village where you’ll find signage and a path leading down a short, but steep, embankment to the launch.

RESTROOMS  NO. There are portable toilets at the Contoocook River Canoe Co. but they are too disgusting to use.  Visit the Dunkin Donut shop, 98 Fisherville Rd. (Rte 3 near Bog Rd.)  prior to arrival.

WHEN TO VISIT – Visit during summer if you are paddling with children to swim at Daisy Beach.  Opt for a shorter trip by launching directly from the Contoocook Canoe Co.’s own launch and paddling 2 mi./3.2 km. upriver to Daisy Beach and as far beyond as you wish.  Otherwise, a fall foliage paddle is the best time to paddle this section of the river.

Skip this trip entirely if you have to travel any distance to get here, there are just too many better waterways in NH to paddle than this section of the Contoocook River.

DIRECTIONS – Click Here.

CONTOOCOOK CANOE CO.  – Click Here.

Kayaking Conway Lake – Center Conway, NH

WHY PADDLE HERE?For mountain scenery, exercise, relaxation, family fun or a fall foliage paddle.

THE PADDLING ROUTE  Today’s paddling goal was to enter the main body of water to enjoy the mountain views and paddle along the eastern shoreline.  The boat launch is located at the end of a finger and to enter the main body of the lake you must paddle out of the finger.  Once leaving the boat launch, paddle straight bypassing an additional finger located on the left not far from the launch.  Continued paddling following the shoreline.  As the course turns right paddle along the left shoreline.  Shortly, you will see mountains in the distance and you will be entering the main area of the lake.  Turn left to paddle along the eastern shoreline.  Conway Lake is large with many coves, fingers and islands to explore however the lake is heavily developed and the islands are privately owned.  Due to its size, Conway Lake is best paddled in multiple trips.  There is an additional boat launch located on the southern end of the lake in Eaton, NH.

Kayaking-Conway-Lake
Rocks and trees

CAUTIONS!  Watch out for rocks and fallen trees at and below the waterline.  Boat traffic can be heavy especially on summer weekends and holidays.  Winds and rapidly changing weather conditions can be a challenge.   As with any large body of water, I don’t recommend paddling here on windy days.

LAUNCH & PARKING – The Town of Conway, NH maintains a public boat launch located on Mill St. in Center Conway, NH.   A parking lot for vehicles and trailers is located diagonally across the street from the boat launch.  The boat launch itself is small and has room for only one trailer or vehicle at a time.  Access to the ramp is located at the edge of the street and street traffic must stop when vehicle with trailers start to back down the ramp.  On weekends and holidays you may find vehicles, with or without trailers, lined up on the side of the roadway waiting their turn to back down the street to the boat ramp.  Do not bring you kayak trailer here if you are not completely comfortable backing without a turnaround area.  There is no fee to park or launch.

RESTROOMS  YES, there are portable toilets located in the parking lot across the street from the boat launch.

WHEN TO VISIT –  Avoid weekends and holidays if you can.  As with any tourist area, the parking lot fills up fast and there will be a waiting line to access the boat launch area.  A fall foliage paddle on Conway Lake is particularly beautiful with its mountain views.

NH FISH & GAME MAP – Click Here.

DIRECTIONS – Click Here.

Kayaking Pawtuckaway Lake – Fundy Cove Launch – Nottingham, NH

Fundy Cove is located on the northern end of Pawtuckaway Lake where you’ll find little to no development compared to the southern end of the lake which is heavily developed and home to the ever popular Pawtuckaway State Park.  Fundy Cove and the northern end of the lake are generally considered the quieter sections with plenty of coves to explore, and a few islands to paddle around.  The northern end is popular for fishing, so even though its quieter, you won’t be alone on weekends during the summer season.

WHY PADDLE HERE? – For a less developed shoreline, fishing, exercise, relaxation or a fall foliage paddle.

THE PADDLING ROUTE – Considering we have paddled this lake many times and today’s goal was to get a bit of exercise, we opted to paddle all the way to the southern end of the lake instead of just paddling the northern end.  Once launching, we paddled out into Fundy Cove and then followed the shoreline passing Log Cabin Island and continuing south till reaching the main beach area at Pawtuckaway State Park.  After a break, we paddled around Horse Island and then paddled north returning to Fundy Cove.  It’s approximately a 3mi/4.8km paddle from Fundy Cove to the main beach area.

CAUTIONS! Watch out for rocks at and just below the waterline.  Motor boat traffic can be heavy on summer weekends and holidays.  As with any large body of water don’t paddle here on windy days.  If it’s breezy, you are better off paddling the southern end of the lake, launching instead from Neil’s Cove in Pawtuckaway State Park.   

LAUNCH & PARKING – The town of Nottingham, NH maintains a public boat launch with a circular driveway and parking lot at Fundy Cove located at the northern end of Pawtuckaway Lake.  There is a lake host present at the launch to inspect boats and kayaks for invasive plant species.  There is no fee to park or launch.

RESTROOMS – YES. There is an outhouse facility at the boat launch. Additional restroom/changing facilities are located at the opposite end of the lake at the main beach of Pawtuckaway State Park.

WHEN TO VISIT – Avoid holiday weekends if you can.  Late afternoon paddlers experience less boat traffic.  After Labor day, the lake is very quiet and a fall foliage paddle here is pleasant.

NH FISH & GAME LAKE MAP  Click Here.

DIRECTIONS – Click Here.

 

Kayaking Pawtuckaway Lake – Pawtuckaway State Park – Neil’s Cove Launch – Nottingham, NH

WHY PADDLE HERE? – For exercise, relaxation, family fun or a fall foliage paddle.

THE PADDLING ROUTE – Once launching we headed out of Neil’s Cove and paddled left bypassing the main beach area and then circling around Horse Island.  We paddled south around the small islands on the southern end of the lake before heading to the main beach to take a break.  After our break we paddled into Mountain Cove for a bit and then paddled back to Neil’s Cove.

CAUTIONS! Rocks at and just below the waterline.  Motor boat traffic, especially on weekends and holidays.  Winds, as with any large body of water, don’t  paddle here on windy days.

LAUNCH & PARKING – Pawtuckaway State Park maintains a boat launch with a large parking lot at Neil’s Cove.  The launch itself is not paved, nor is the access way from the paved parking lot.

At the launch there is room to turn your trailer around if there are no other vehicles present at the time.  The launch area is wooded and mosquitos are a nuisance so don’t forget to pack bug spray.

Access to the launch is via the state park entrance.  You must pay the entrance fee to use the boat launch.

If you plan on camping in the park, try to reserve a waterfront site on Horse Island that you can launch your kayak from.  If you aren’t that lucky, don’t worry, there is an additional boat launch on Horse Island reserved for campers only.  For fees and other park information, Click Here.

RESTROOMS – YES! Restroom/Changing facilities are located at the main beach.  There are no restrooms at the boat launch but the main beach is just a few minutes paddle from the launch.

WHEN TO VISIT – Avoid summer weekends and holidays if you can.  Late afternoon paddlers experience much less crowds.  A fall foliage paddle here is pleasant.

NH FISH & GAME LAKE MAP  Click Here.

PAWTUCKAWAY STATE PARK CAMPGROUND MAP  Click Here.

DIRECTIONS – Click Here.

 

Kayaking Merrimack River – Seal Trip – Newburyport, MA

WHY PADDLE HERE? – For viewing harbor and gray seals and a tidal river experience.

THE PADDLING ROUTE – Once launching we paddled down river stopping short of Black Rocks near the mouth of the river where harbor and gray seals gather.

As our large kayak group neared the area of the rocks, the seals immediately fled retreating underwater for safety.  The seals then popped their heads up out of the water a safe distance from the group and kept a watchful eye on us before disappearing once again underwater.

After viewing the seals for a bit, the group then landed on the north side of the river at the Salisbury, MA State Reservation where we breaked for lunch before paddling upriver back to the launch.

CAUTIONS! – Strong currents and cross directional waves, especially near the mouth of the river.  Keep watch for frequent and large boat traffic.  

Strong NW winds can be challenging to paddle against even when paddling with the tide and our paddling group experienced these winds first hand.  Halfway through our trip the winds picked up substantially making for a difficult and exhausting journey back to the launch.  

If a kayaker stopped paddling even for a brief second,  he or she immediately started going backward even though we were paddling with the tide in our favor.  Several kayakers were so fatigued by paddling against these winds they had to be towed by the guides.  

Unfortunately for two inexperienced paddlers, today’s conditions proved too much for them and each man capsized.  The experienced guides assisted each paddler re-enter their kayaks and finish the trip albeit wet and cold.

If you are an inexperienced kayaker, I recommend  that you engage the services of professional guides when paddling here, it just may save your life.

PARKING & LAUNCH – We rented tandem kayaks for this guided late October tour from Plum Island Kayak in Newburyport, MA.  Their rental office is located at 92 Merrimack St. and there is parking behind their building.  The office is located a short walk from the boat ramp located adjacent to the waterfront Black Cow and Grill restaurant.  There is an additional public parking lot with meters at the boat ramp.

RESTROOMS –  The group accessed the Salisbury MA State Reservation campground facilities during our break.

WHEN TO VISIT – Harbor and gray seals gather here in the spring and fall during low tide only so plan accordingly.  Locally, seal watching is popular and kayak trips fill up fast, so book early.

US HARBORS TIDE CHART Click Here.

US HARBORS LINK – Click Here.

DIRECTIONS – Click Here.

Sharing The Joy Of Paddling