It’s paddling season! Are you ready to pull your kayak, canoe or paddleboard out of storage and get yourself out on the water? I am!
Here within the North and South Rivers watershed, there are numerous public launch spots for non-motorized boats. Below you’ll find some of my favorites – along with tips for where to start and end your trip, where to park, and the best time to go. This is not a comprehensive list: there are plenty more options to consider, especially after you’ve gained an understanding of how the tides affect our rivers. Consult our Paddling Guide for more info.
When you go, be sure to always carry a personal flotation device (PFD) – one for each passenger. Check the forecast before you leave. It’s no fun trying to out-paddle a thunderstorm. Remember that wind plays just as much of a role as tide, and plan accordingly if there’s a stiff breeze. And if you’re staging a second vehicle, stage a second set of straps (or carry them with you) so you can secure your boat for the ride home! In addition, Harbormasters advise that you file a Float Plan with them pre-trip, and also post a phone number or email inside your boat, so if you become separated from it, they can find you (and not have to launch a search).
Don’t miss our 2023 Explore South Shore Challenge, Know Your Local Waters. Each week we feature a river, stream, pond or other waterway, and highlight public places you can visit to experience it first-hand. Watch for daily posts on Facebook and Instagram. The program also includes a weekly trivia question, with a chance to win a custom NSRWA prize package.
|Bourne Island Lagoon|
South River - Out & Back
Begin at the public launch at Francis Keville Footbridge in Marshfield. Put your boat in the water 2-3 hours before ocean high tide. Paddle downstream for an hour or two, perhaps making a stop at the Bourne Island Lagoon, then ride the rising tide back to your starting place. Parking is available in Marshfield Center. (2-4 hours)
|Francis Keville Footbridge|
South River - Keville Bridge to Rexhame
Stage a second vehicle at Rexhame Beach or the Marshfield Town Landing. Bring your boat to the public launch at Francis Keville Footbridge in Marshfield, and put it in the water 3 hours after ocean high tide. Ride the receding tide to your second vehicle, perhaps stopping to enjoy the Rexhame Dunes along the way. Parking is available in Marshfield Center. (2+ hours on the water)
|Marshfield Town Landing|
|Hanover Public Launch|
North River - Upper Reaches Out & Back
Begin at the Hanover Public Launch, where there is ample parking. Put your boat in the water at ocean high tide or within 1-2 hours after. Paddle downstream to the Washington Street Bridge, or perhaps a little farther, to explore Third Herring Brook. Then return to your starting place, perhaps exploring Pembroke’s Herring Brook on the way back. (2+ hours)
|North River near Third Herring Brook|
|Herring Brook in Pembroke|
|Pembroke Town Forest|
North River - Pembroke to Marshfield
Stage a second vehicle at the Marshfield Launch at Union Street Bridge. Bring your boat to the Pembroke Town Forest on Brick Kiln Lane. Put your boat in the water 2-3 hours after the ocean high tide. Enjoy a one-way excursion to Marshfield with the receding tide, with views of Route 3, Second Herring Brook, and various historic shipyards. Consider a stop at Couch Beach. (3+ hours on the water)
|Marshfield Public Launch|
|the North River at Couch Beach|
North River - Couch Beach Out & Back
Begin at the Marshfield Public Launch on Union Street. Put your boat in the water 1-2 hours before ocean high tide and head upstream to Couch Beach. Stretch your legs at Couch Beach and then return to your starting place with the slack/receding tide. (3+ hours).
North River - Estuary Out & Back
Begin at the Marshfield Public Launch on Union Street. Put your boat in the water about 2 hours before ocean low tide and paddle downstream to Damon’s Point and the North River Estuary. (Be careful to avoid the river mouth.) Then ride the rising tide upstream to return to your starting place. Consider exploring Cove Creek on the way. (2.5+ hours)
|Driftway Conservation Park|
Herring River to North River
Stage a second vehicle at the Marshfield Public Launch on Union Street. Bring your boat to Driftway Conservation Park, and put in the water 2-4 hours before ocean high tide. Ride the rising tide up Herring River, and then turn upstream on the North River, continuing past Damon’s Point and the Route 3A Bridge, eventually returning to your second vehicle. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO PADDLE INTO THE RIVER MOUTH! (2+ hours on the water)
|Route 3A Bridge|
Herring River - The Spit Out & Back
Begin at Driftway Conservation Park. Put your boat in the water 1-2 hours before ocean low tide. Paddle downstream to The Spit, and take some time to explore while the tide is out. Return to the Driftway as the tide comes back in. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO PADDLE INTO THE RIVER MOUTH! (1 hour on the water with time to explore)
by Kezia Bacon
Kezia Bacon's articles appear courtesy of the North and South Rivers Watershed Association, a local non-profit organization devoted to protecting our waters. For membership information and a copy of their latest newsletter, contact NSRWA at (781) 659-8168 or visit www.nsrwa.org. You will also find 26+ years of Kezia’s Nature columns there. For more information about the Explore South Shore 2023 Challenge, visit https://www.nsrwa.org/get-outdoors/2023-explore-south-shore-challenge