Paddling on the Rivers

Paddling on the Rivers
Getting out on the rivers is truly one of life’s greatest little pleasures. From the quiet of a canoe or kayak, there is an endless variety of flora and fauna to observe and listen to. On our rivers you will find great places for a picnic, historical sites to explore or you can fish, swim or just enjoy the quiet. The North and South Rivers are a panoply of sights and sounds, which feel like an entirely different world when you are paddling in your kayak or canoe.

The North and South Rivers Watershed Association hosts paddles for people to explore these wonderful rivers and tributaries. Please check our events schedule for upcoming NSRWA sponsored paddles.

Our paddles are led by experienced volunteer paddle leaders. If you are an experienced paddler with group management skills please consider volunteering with us to lead a paddle.

Resources for Paddling the North and South Rivers

The NSRWA Canoe and Kayak Guide gives great information about water conditions and launching sites along the North and South Rivers. Click here to get your FREE download.

Canoe LaunchThe NSRWA also has a Recreation Guide Map to the North and South Rivers Watershed. This large fold out map is chock full of information on boat launching sites, conservation lands and walks, information on the natural and human history of our rivers and watershed and tides in the rivers. This Recreation Guide Map is provided free upon joining the NSRWA as a member.

You may also wish to join us on one of our paddles. Please check our event listings for upcoming activities, a benefit to members is that they receive early notification of these events via our quarterly newsletter. Please be sure to read our Paddle Safety guidelines before you come on a paddle with us or go one yourself!

Other Paddling Groups on the South Shore

Where can I launch my canoe or kayak in the North and South Rivers?

CAUTION!! Canoeing and kayaking downstream from Damons Point or outside the Herring River can be EXTREMELY DANGEROUS. The currents at the Mouth of the North and South Rivers are deceptively swift and unpredictable—over 15 lives have been lost over the past 20 years! Please ALWAYS wear a life jacket. Although the law only requires that children age 12 and under wear a PFD and adults wear a PFD from September 15 to May 15 (during the summer months they must have it in the boat)—please play it safe and ALWAYS wear one! Scroll down to read our Paddle Safety guidelines for more tips on playing it safe!

Tides are a major factor on the North and South Rivers. Please take into account the tides before planning your excursion on the rivers.

The NSRWA offers a Recreation Guide Map that includes these locations as well as places to take walks on conservation land in the watershed and natural and human history pertaining to the rivers. Members receive the Guide Map when they first join or you can purchase the Guide Map for $10 from our office.

Here is a Google Map of some of the important access sites along the rivers

North River:

  • Hanover Canoe Launch – Off of Elm Street near Luddam’s Ford Park. This is a difficult site at low tide, and may require some portage.
  • Damon’s Point – There is a launch on the west side of the parking area. A Marshfield permit is required to park here.
  • Brick Kiln Road – This site is part of Pembroke Conservation land. It is ½ mile down the lane on the right, and has limited parking. This site is used primarily by local residents.
  • Chittenden Lane in Norwell (off River Street) – This seldom-used town landing at the end of the lane is not well marked, has limited parking, and is only for use by Norwell residents with a permit.
  • Union Street Bridge – The small parking lot on the Norwell side requires a Norwell parking permit. The Town of Marshfield maintains a public lot on the south side after the bridge. It is a wooded area with a dirt driveway with generally adequate parking among the trees.
  • Kings Landing – Off 123 in Norwell (small launch fee).
  • Roht Marine (the former Mary’s Boat Livery) – On the south end of the Route 3A bridge in Marshfield (small launch fee). Check before you go.
  • North River Marine – On the north end of the Route 3A bridge in Scituate (small launch fee).

South River – several places in Humarock:

  • Town of Scituate Parking Lot – A Scituate Beach Permit is required to park here.
  • South River Yacht Yard – Parking is not provided – must get permission from the boat yard.
  • Marshfield Town Landing – Next to the Marshfield Yacht Club at the intersection of Ferry Street and Ridge Road. Marshfield Parking Permit required during the summer.

Herring River:

  • James Landing Marina (Herring River) – There is a small launch fee.
  • Driftway Conservation Area in Scituate – Scituate park and boat launch access to the Herring River and North River.

Paddle Safety


By Doug Lowry, NSRWA Board Member and National Outdoor Leadership School instructor.

One of the NSRWA’s goals is to “Encourage stewardship of the watershed through public education, outreach and recreation programs.” Historically, a popular way to do this has been by hosting several paddling trips on the North and South Rivers throughout the year. What a delight it is to view cardinal flowers, a great blue heron or autumn foliage from a canoe or kayak. The rivers can be a source of relaxation and inspiration. It is easy to see why our paddling events have become so popular.

Over the years the NSRWA has been lucky and grateful for all of the volunteers who have helped organize and lead these trips. Their dedication and skills have been a huge part of the success of these events.

Recently, we became a Paddle America Club with the American Canoe Association. This allows the NSRWA to have insurance at a minimal cost to cover participants. The cost to participants is $5 per event. The insurance only covers paddles led by volunteers of the NSRWA. Other on the water programs we partner with professional paddle groups that provide coverage.

Below are requirements and guidelines that will enhance the educational opportunities and safety of participants:

What Should You Bring printable list

  • Personal Flotation Devices PFDs (life preservers) are required. The NSRWA insists that you and your children wear a zipped up PFD at all times while paddling.
  • Your own canoe/kayak, paddles, and safety equipment are also required. If your kayak does not have bulkheaded compartments, you will need adequate flotation. Inflatable airbags or bubble wrap packaging material work well. You also will need a bilge pump or bailer.
  • A signed liability waiver for adults or for minors (please print, read and sign)
  • Sunscreen and a hat
  • Dry bag for wallet, keys, etc.
  • Adequate water to drink and a snack
  • Shoes that can get wet
  • A headlamp or a waterproof flashlight for our moonlight paddles

What Should You Know printable list

  • You are responsible for your own safety and should know how to swim and paddle. Please print out, read, and sign our adult waiver or minor waiver and bring it with you.
  • Be familiar with your equipment. Our trips are not appropriate for first time paddles, unless otherwise specified. You should be able to: enter and exit your boat from the shore; exit and enter your boat in deep water; and return to your boat unaided after capsizing. Instruction will not be provided unless otherwise specified.
  • Arrive at the departure point at least 15 minutes before the trip leaves.
  • Pre-registration is required. No on-site registration will be allowed.
  • We will not go out on the river if there is lightning or high winds.
  • Dress appropriately for the weather. If the weather is cool, plan to carry an appropriate change of clothes and towel in your boat (in a waterproof bag).
  • We discourage taking small children unless you are an experienced boater. Children must be accompanied by an adult.
  • If you have allergies, medical conditions, or are taking prescribed drugs, consult with your physician before participating in our paddles.
  • Please leave your pets in the safety of your home.
  • Alcohol use is not permitted on our paddles.
  • We reserve the right to exclude participants if their actions compromise the safety of others or themselves.
  • Donations are greatly appreciated.

The NSRWA is dedicated to providing trip leaders who are familiar with the North and South Rivers. Leaders will provide human and natural history information, tips on reading tide tables, potential hazards and pull-outs along the way. Leaders will determine a comfortable pace for the group (participants will be required to stay within the perimeters determined by the trip leaders) and facilitate a safe and enjoyable paddle. Leaders will also participate in an ongoing training program, be familiar with safety gear, basic rescues, and well-versed in decision making.

We look forward to continue to draw upon our many talented volunteer trip leaders and will keep you informed on our trip leader training sessions. It is our hope that we can provide our membership with opportunities to paddle on the North and South Rivers with us at our scheduled events, but also provide help for those who will venture on the Rivers by themselves and with friends and family. See you on the rivers

Where to Rent or Buy a Kayak

Our kayak purchasing guidelines has great information to help you choose equipment that is right for you!

Local merchants who RENT or SELL kayaks or canoes

  • Billington Sea Watercraft (sales only)
    Plymouth (call for directions)
  • Buckles and Boards (rentals and sales)
    985 Plain Street (Rt 139) in Marshfield
  • REI (rentals and sales)
    Derby Street Shops, 98 Derby St in Hingham
  • Kings Landing Marina (canoe rentals only)
    80 Kings Landing (off Rt 123) in Norwell