Join us Tuesday July 21st at Noon for a Zoom Meeting Q & A on paddling the rivers if you would like more info! Register here.

Whether you’re visiting the South Shore of Massachusetts or you’ve lived here for all your life, there is one thing that sets this area apart from many others… the paddling opportunities.  Below is a top 5 list of a few very special locations you can go for an adventure within the North and South Rivers watershed.  Just be sure to plan according to the tides to ensure the best possible paddling experience.

1. Indian Head River and the Crotch –  Starting from the Hanover Canoe launch off Indian Head Lane, this paddle is a must for folks looking for the pure scenic beauty of the upper reaches of the North River. Begin the journey by taking a left from the launch, going downstream on the Indian Head River.  Very quickly one will be encompassed by a unique freshwater tidal marsh, teaming with colorful plants and active wildlife. After following the natural meander for nearly a mile, you will enter an area known to the locals as the “Crotch” a confluence of two major tributaries, the Indian Head and the Herring Brook, that make up the headwaters of the North River. By bearing right, you will journey up the Herring Brook, by bearing left, you will be paddling downstream to the North River.  There is plenty nature to see and plenty of river to explore either way you go.  Just be sure to check the tides if you plan on going through the Old Washington Street Bridge as paddling against the tides under the bridge can be nearly impossible and dangerous. However, tides in and around the Crotch are usually pretty manageable being 12 miles inland from the ocean.  The tide delay here is 3 to 3.5 hours from Boston tide.

2. Marshfield Launch to Couch Beach – Those looking to experience the “Heart of the North River” should consider this ~ 5 mile out-and-back paddle. Begin the journey by taking a left out of the Marshfield launch next to the Union Street Bridge heading up river. Paddlers along this route will begin to see historical signs marking locations for shipyards, a common sight along the banks if you were on the river in much of the 17, 18, and 19th centuries. After a short distance, the river takes a sharp left as it passes Rocky Reach and begins meandering southward. After this, one will begin to experience the grand scale of the saltwater marsh with its incredibly beautiful views and important ecological habitat. Continue along the river until you come upon a sandy bank at Couch Beach that is ripe for a break, snack, and swim. Tide delay at Marshfield Launch is ~1-1.5 hours delayed from Boston tide. Time your paddle to go up with the tide and back down by choosing to go at least an hour before high tide at Marshfield Canoe Launch and ride the tide up to Couch Beach then take a swim, have a snack and wait for the tide to turn.

3. South River via the Francis Keville Footbridge – The South River is truly a hidden gem of the south shore and just as impressive in wild beauty and natural significance to its counterpart to the north. Begin your South River adventure from the Francis Keville Footbridge constructed down along the rail trail off Ocean Street. There is roughly a tenth of mile walk from the parking area to the boat launch, so be prepared to bring a dolly or carry your vessel of choice. Once on the water, you will begin paddling downstream. Immediately becoming surrounded with a variety of tall marsh grasses, one will feel enclosed in beautiful and lush surroundings. Whether you paddle for a short trip or a long haul, there’s no question that you will be surprised with what the South River has to offer. The tide here is also delayed and is about 3 – 3.5 hours past Boston tide. Time your trip an hour or so before the low tide and then turn around and come back with the incoming will allow you an easy out and back but it is shallow! Fun to do on a SUP board too!

4. Herring River to the Spit – At some points of the North River, it’s easy to forget that it is actually an estuary. So if you are looking to get that near ocean coastal experience, this is the place for you. Start by launching your paddling vessel from the Driftway Park in Scituate. Right off the bat, one will see the vast expanse of the salt marsh, as well as a glimpse of the ocean in the distance. Paddle downstream as the Herring River joins with the North River. After a few twists and turns past the Spartina marsh grass, one will see the river open up to a broad bay. From here you will see a large sandy barrier beach known as the Spit, separating the river from the ocean. Pull your boat a good ways up on the sand and explore the Spit by foot. With the ocean to the East, and the North River to the West, the views are simply breathtaking. Be sure to keep an eye out for Piping Plovers and Hermit Crabs! Please keep your paddling adventure on the inside of the Spit, and never attempt to enter or cross the mouth of the river as the currents are dangerous. Add 20 minutes to Boston Tide to time the tide at Driftway Park. This should be an out and back paddle. If you time the paddle to leave about an hour or so before low tide you can get out to the Spit, explore for a bit, have a snack and then turn around and come back in with the tide. Notice how we are all about snacks!

5. South River via Rexhame Beach – This trip will provide one with a well- rounded estuary paddle. With views of the salt marsh and scenic topography, this paddle is certainly one to consider. Starting at the parking area for Rexhame Beach (parking requires a permit of fee during beach season), take the sandy trail to the west of the lot instead of over the dune to the beach. One will immediately come upon the South River flowing silently behind the cedars and dune grass. After putting your vessel in the water, paddle to your left heading up river. Alone the way, keep an ear out the chirping sound of marsh wren, one might see their little nest built suspended in the grass. It’s up to you (and the tide!) how far you’d like to go, however a fun point of interest is the Bourne Island Lagoon roughly 2 miles up-river. Tide at Rexhame Beach is 45 minutes from Boston Tide. Plan a trip an hour or so before high tide and then when the tide turns come back with it.

Visit our Paddling Resources section of our website for more info! Join us for Timing the Tides Q&A Zoom meeting, on Tuesday July 21, 2020 at 12:00 noon, to find out more and get all your questions answered!