Category Archives: Blog

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.



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.



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.

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!


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.



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.



DIRECTIONS – Click Here.