All posts by Laury

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 Sagamore Creek – Portsmouth NH

Sagamore Creek in Portsmouth, NH is a very attractive paddling destination for both local kayakers and visitors alike.  Not only is paddling here scenic, but your efforts rewarded by the rare opportunity to paddle to a popular seafood restaurant where you’ll find a soft landing area for kayaks.  At BG’s Boathouse Restaurant, paddlers can enjoy a meal on the deck while keeping an eye on their kayaks and the tide.  Because Sagamore Creek is tidal, the ability to use the tides in your favor makes this paddling endeavor that much more enjoyable.

WHY PADDLE HERE? –  For coastal nature, harbor views, a tidal water experience and an opportunity to paddle to lunch or dinner at BG’s Boathouse Restaurant, a popular waterfront restaurant located on Sagamore Creek in Portsmouth, NH.

THE PADDLING ROUTE –  In planning today’s trip we had one simple goal in mind, paddle to BG’s Boathouse Restaurant for dinner and a glass of wine.  We launched  our kayaks from the public boat ramp at Odiorne Point State Park Boat Launch approximately two hours prior to high tide.

Once launching, we turned right and paddled into Little Harbor, paddled underneath the Rte 1B bridge and then paddled upriver with the flood tide.  We veered left into Sagamore Creek and  paddled the length of the creek landing to the left of BG’s Boat House Restaurant where we enjoyed an excellent seafood dinner.  We highly recommend the haddock!

After dinner, we re-launched with the ebb tide, and reversed course paddling  downriver.  We paddled back under the Rte 1B bridge and into Little Harbor where we took a short paddle to watch the sun set before returning to the boat launch before nightfall.

Little Harbor, especially at sun set, is one of my favorite places to paddle. If you paddle here, you will not be disappointed.

We launched our kayaks from Odiorne State Park Boat Launch,  turned right and paddled under the Rte 1B bridge and then paddled upriver with the flood tide toward Sagamore Creek.

We veered left into Sagamore Creek,  paddled the length of the creek and landed to the left of  BG’s Boathouse Restaurant.

After dinner we re-traced our route paddling down Sagamore Creek with the ebb tide and back under the Rte 1B bridge to Little Harbor.

Once back in Little Harbor, we paddled around the harbor while the sun was setting before returning to the boat launch before nightfall.

CAUTIONS! –  Tides, strong currents, and boat traffic.  The tidal currents are strong as you paddle underneath the Rte 1B bridge.   For safety, paddle under the bridge as close to slack tide as possible and avoid paddling in the center where the current is always the strongest, and paddle as you pass underneath the bridge.  We routinely paddle under the bridge within two hours either side of the high tide without issue but after that, the current becomes increasingly strong and should be avoided by novice kayakers.

PARKING & LAUNCH – The State of NH maintains a public boat launch at Odiorne Point State Park 570 Ocean Blvd. Rye, NH.  The boat launch itself is located on Ocean Blvd. approximately one mile north of the main entrance.  The launch has a concrete ramp and a large parking lot for vehicles and trailers.  There is a self pay station with suggested donation fees.

RESTROOMS – Yes, there are portable toilets located in the parking lot.  Additional restrooms are located in Odiorne Point State Park near the main entrance, approximately one mile south of the boat launch.

WHEN TO VISIT- Summer is the best time to paddle Little Harbor and Sagamore Creek.  Avoid holidays and weekends if you can as the boat launch parking lot is used by both boaters and those visiting Odiorne Point State Park.

BG’S BOATHOUSE RESTAURANT – Click Here –

TIDE CHART – Click Here –

US HARBORS LINK – Click Here –

ODIORNE STATE PARK TRAIL MAP – Click Here –

DIRECTIONS  – Click Here –

 

Kayaking Boothbay Harbor, ME – Windjammer Days –

WHY PADDLE HERE? – For the annual, weeklong Windjammer Days celebration of course! A grand opportunity to view majestic Windjammer Ships entering and exiting the harbor under full sail.  Also paddle here for coastal scenic beauty, harbor views and a tidal water experience.

THE PADDLING ROUTE – After launching from the dock at the Blue Heron Seaside Inn, we paddled under the pedestrian foot bridge and into the main harbor.   Once in the harbor proper, we avoided the main channel paddling alongside the edge for a front row seat to view the Schooners as they entered the harbor.  And what a view we had, we couldn’t have picked a better route for viewing the ships,  simply spectacular!  Schooner after schooner past by us making all of our effort to get here well worth the trip.

Because of all the Windjammer Days activities, the harbor was extremely congested with large and small boat traffic and the water was choppy as well, making it difficult to linger in one place for very long.  After viewing the ships for a while we decided to put a little distance between the congested harbor and our kayaks.

Still hugging the shoreline for as long as possible, we paddled passed past Mill Point, crossed over the entrance to Mill Cove and past Railway Point.  After exploring this western section we reversed course and began paddling back when a sudden, unanticipated driving rain caused us to immediately seek shelter underneath the nearest dock. Visibility during the short fifteen minute storm was extremely limited and when the rain finally lifted the harbor was empty,  all of the boats and onlookers previously lining the harbor had retreated to avoid the sudden rain.

After the rain, we paddled into quiet Mill Cove for a short time and then paddled back into the now deserted main harbor enjoying the calmer waters and taking a closer look at the Schooner Heritage and the harbor itself before paddling back under the pedestrian bridge and returning to the dock at the Blue Heron Seaside Inn.

Despite the rain and because of it, this trip is one we will likely remember for a very long time.  Overall, it was a great experience to have viewed and paddled with ships of a bygone era.

Boothbay Harbor
Windjammer Days bring heavy boat traffic

CAUTIONS!- Frequent large and commercial boat traffic, especially  during Windjammer Days, as well as rapidly changing weather and sea conditions.  If you paddle during the arrival of the fleet, bring your A game, you’ll need it to navigate the constant chop, boat wake and boat congestion, on this day it’s very easy to find yourself in another boater’s way.  If you’re not an experienced kayaker, your better off viewing the fleet’s arrival from the docks and saving your paddle for a less hectic day.

PARKING & LAUNCH – We stayed with our husbands at the Blue Heron Seaside Inn 65 Townsend St. in Boothbay Harbor, a lovely waterfront inn located at the end of the harbor featuring a dock directly behind the inn.  Ability to launch from the inn’s dock exists at half-tide or higher.

If you don’t own a kayak, or would rather rent or take a group kayak tour, Tidal Transit Kayak Co. is conveniently located four doors down from the inn.  Walk on over and talk to the friendly owner, Travis Journagan, for knowledge about the local paddling scene. He may even offer a free lesson in how to safely launch from a dock.

If you do bring your own kayak, you might also consider launching at the all-tide public boat ramp located at the Dept. of Marine Services 194 McKnown Point Rd. West Boothbay Harbor, a few minutes drive from the inn.

RESTROOMS –  The only public restrooms available are next to the Dept. of Marine Service building in West  Boothbay Harbor if you are paddling that far.  The restrooms are only open when the marine service building is open.

WHEN TO VISIT – Anytime during the warm summer months or early fall is a great time to paddle Boothbay Harbor.  It’s a popular tourist destination so you’ll have plenty of company.  Planning your visit around the annual Windjammer Days celebration week is especially fun as there are numerous events held throughout the week.

WINDJAMMER DAYS  –  Click Here –

BLUE HERON SEASIDE INN –  Click Here –

TIDAL TRANSIST KAYAK CO. –  Click Here –

TIDE CHART –  Click Here

US HARBORS LINK –  Click Here –

NOAA CHART –  Click Here –

DIRECTIONS –  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 Fort Gorges – Casco Bay – Portland, ME

WHY PADDLE HERE? – For adventure, history and coastal scenic beauty.

THE PADDLING ROUTE – Launch from the East End beach boat ramp, turn right and you will see Fort Gorges in the distance.  It is approximately a 1mi/1.6km paddle to the fort.  Once nearing the fort,  look for the American flag to guide you to the easiest place to land.

CAUTIONS!  Tides, waves, strong/confused currents, fog, rapidly changing weather conditions and frequent large boat traffic.  Do not attempt this trip if you are not an experienced kayaker with self-rescue skills.  If this is the case, I highly recommend you engage the services of a kayak touring company.  Although I have never paddled with them, Portland Paddle has a seasonal location at the East End Beach boat launch parking lot.

LAUNCH & PARKING – For East End Beach boat launch policies including parking and launch fees,  Click Here.

RESTROOMS – Yes,  public restrooms are located in the parking lot.

WHEN TO VISIT – Plan your visit with weather and tides in mind.  Portland is a very busy tourist area and on beautiful days the parking lot fills up fast.

TIDE CHART  Click Here.

US HARBORS LINK – Click Here.

DIRECTIONS – Click Here.

Kayaking Webhannet River/Wells Harbor – Wells, ME

WHY PADDLE HERE? – For scenic beauty, coastal nature, tidal river experience, marsh area, harbor views or a sunset paddle.

THE PADDLING ROUTE – Once launching from the boat ramp, or the hand carry launch, you have a choice of either paddling up river (turn right) or down river (turn left) into Wells Harbor.  We usually start our paddle by first heading up river enjoying the marsh views and the sounds of the seagulls flying nearby then turning back and leisurely traveling into Wells Harbor before returning to the launch area.  Sunset is my favorite time to paddle here, perfect after a long day of work.

CAUTIONS! Tidal river and motor boat traffic.  If you are unfamiliar with paddling a tidal river, plan to launch two hours before high tide and return to the launch no later than two hours after high tide. Paddling this close to either side of the high tide ensures you will not be stuck in the mud.  Do not launch at or near low tide.  Please note,  there is no swimming allowed in the river.

LAUNCH & PARKING – The Town of Wells provides three separate and distinct boat launch locations all of which provide direct access the Webhannet River/Wells Harbor.  The launch we normally use is located at the end of Harbor Rd. off of Rte 1.  Experience has taught us that this launch is more conveniently located and easier to reach. You have to two choices at this location, you can either use the designated boat ramp at the end of Harbor Rd. or hand carry from the Wells Community Park parking lot.  This trip we chose to use the hand carry launch as the parking lot was near empty.  If you are trailering  your kayaks you should  use the designated boat launch. Starting in 2017 there will be a $12- fee to park at the designated boat launch parking lot.  A  pay and display meter (cards only) will be located at the lot.  There is no parking fee to park in the hand carry parking lot for vehicles without trailers.  The Harbor Master has an office located near the boat ramp.

RESTROOMS – YES! Restrooms are located at the entrance to the Wells community parking lot.

WHEN TO VISIT – Avoid busy summer weekends and holidays if you can.  Time your visit with the tides in mind paddling at or near high tide for safety.  Avoid low tide.  Because this paddle is on the shorter side, a sunset paddle is particularly appealing to experienced paddlers with proper lighting.

TIDE CHART  Click Here.

US HARBORS LINK – Click Here.

DIRECTIONS – Click Here.

 

Kayaking Lake Winnipesaukee – Ellacoya State Park – Gilford, NH

If you are paddling with children this is a perfect place to spend a family day.  The park’s main draw for families is the sandy beach on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee with its beautiful views.  Perfect to relax on while you watch the children swim and play.  For tweens and teenagers who are strong swimmers, there is a floating dock to explore and hang out on just off shore from the beach area.  There are restrooms/changing rooms for park guests as well as a park store and a foot rinsing station,  a personal favorite of parents to help keep sand out of vehicles after a day of fun.

WHY PADDLE HERE? – For scenic beauty, exercise, relaxation and family fun.

THE PADDLING ROUTE – Once launching from the boat launch you have a choice of either heading left (west) or right (east).  Regardless of the direction you choose follow the shoreline for as long as your heart desires, or until your arms tire, then turn around and head back to the boat launch area for a nice lunch, a swim and some well deserved relaxation.  After your break re-launch and head out in the opposite direction for a second and final paddle.

Ellacoya State Park
Boat Traffic

CAUTIONS!Boat traffic is especially busy on summer weekends and holidays.  Winds, as with any large body of water, I don’t recommend paddling here on windy days.  If you find that it is windy once you have launched, paddle against the wind so you will be returning with the wind in you favor.  Don’t overestimate you fitness level, it’s a big lake, keep track of how long or far you have paddled remembering that you’ll be more fatigued on the way back.

LAUNCH & PARKING – The park’s boat launch is located in the designated RV Camping portion of the park.  Drop all your gear off with your boat at the launch as you will have to park your vehicle and trailer in the main parking area and walk back to the RV portion of the park where the boat launch is located.  There is a day use fee to park and launch your kayaks.  For fees and general park information, Click Here.

Ellacoya
Restrooms at Kayak Launch

RESTROOMS – YES!  Restrooms are located adjacent to the boat launch area with additional restrooms at the main beach area.

WHEN TO VISIT – Avoid weekends and holidays if you can.  Visiting prior to the week of July 4th and after the third week of August will help to ensure a relaxing visit with plenty of parking and no waiting lines at the boat launch.  In fact, the last time we paddled here in late August on a weekday, we practically had the park to ourselves!

ELLACOYA PARK MAP – Click Here.

DIRECTIONS – Click here.