Exploring by kayak, canoe, or SUP provides new adventures and perspectives. There’s so much more to see by boat on the rivers, lakes, ponds, brooks, and estuaries that pass by and through many Trustees properties. Here’s a few of the best places to paddle, including suggestions for boat launches and access points.
Crane Wildlife Refuge on the Crane Estate, Essex
Explore the refuge’s seven islands in the Essex River Estuary—Choate, Long, Dean, Dilly, Pine, Patterson, and Round—and the vibrant habitats of the surrounding Great Marsh. (Note: The Crane kayak launch is for guided paddles only.)
Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge, Chappaquiddick
Rent a canoe, paddleboard, or kayak and explore Poucha Pond or Cape Poge Bay—on your own or sign up for a public or private guided kayak tour.
Long Point Wildlife Refuge, West Tisbury
Take in a self-guided tour of Long Cove Pond, an elongated tear-drop-shaped body of freshwater filled with wildlife, including swans. Kayaks and paddleboards can be rented in July and August. Or join one of the bi-monthly sunset and full-moon guided kayak tours.
Bartholomew’s Cobble, Sheffield
Paddle along the mighty Housatonic River in Sheffield for a dramatic view of this National Natural Landmark and watch for the occasional cow slipping into the water for a cooling dip along Corbin’s Neck. Best access point is at the Sheffield Covered Bridge boat launch on Covered Bridge Lane.
Tully Lake Campground, Royalston
Explore Tully River or the isles and inlets of the 200-acre Tully Lake in Royalston. You can launch your boat at the Boat Ramp or Tully River Canoe Launch. Note: Canoes and kayaks at Tully Lake Campground are reserved for campers during summer months and all weekends; check for availability at other times.
Rocky Woods, Medfield
Rent a kayak or canoe from the Visitor’s Center (Saturdays 8AM-6PM and Sundays 8AM-12Noon) and paddle around Chickering Pond, the largest of the reservation’s five man-made ponds. Keep an eye out for bullfrogs and painted turtles.
Reservations along the Charles River:
Consider strolling around this bucolic 55-acre former farm before getting on the Charles River at the nearby canoe/kayak landing owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Shattuck Reservation, Medfield
Overlooking the Charles, this 245-acre forested former pasture has a wet meadow and red maple swamp. Access the river via several put-in spots in Medfield.
Bridge Island Meadows, Millis
This 80-acre hideaway is accessible only by boat, via Bogastow Brook when the water level is high enough. Tree-covered knolls, tall grasses, and the surrounding floodplain reward determined paddlers.
Medfield Meadow Lots, Medfield
Comprising three freshwater marshlands, Pratt Meadow, Perry Meadow, and Hinsdale Meadow, this reservation can be seen only by boat.
Rocky Narrows, Sherborn
This swath of woodlands in Sherborn abuts the Town Forest and overlooks a pastoral section of the Charles, as it meanders quietly through ancient cliff walls and steeply wooded hillsides.
Peters Reservation, Dover
Savor the trails and understory plantings laid out by famed landscape architect Fletcher Steele before slipping your boat into the Charles at the boat launch on Bridge Street.
Charles River Peninsula, Needham
Glide by this restored open grassland field surrounded on three sides by the Charles River. You can launch your boat at Red Wing Bay in Needham, a state-owned boat launch.
For paddling information, go to each reservation’s webpage. All Trustees rentals include paddles and life jackets. Consider bringing your own water, snack, and protective gear, such as sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, and a long-sleeve shirt. For self-guided paddles, be sure to check the weather before you go.
For kayaking on the Charles River, we recommend the Charles River Watershed Association’s (CRWA) Charles River Canoe and Kayak Guide—a detailed flip map available to purchase on CRWA’s website, crwa.org. Several Members also recommend The Charles River: Exploring Nature and History on Foot and by Canoe by Ron McAdow (Bliss Publishing Co., 2000).