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Published On: Thu, Jul 7th, 2016

Canoeing and Kayaking in Massachusetts

Whether you enjoy canoeing and kayaking for the great workout or the peaceful scenery, you’ll find beautiful waterways to explore in the Commonwealth.

The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) has information on scenic areas to paddle, accessible locations, and places to rent equipment and take classes.

Rentals and Classes

Don’t own a canoe or kayak? There are several spots where you can learn the basics and rent gear.

  • Charles River Canoe and Kayak Centers — With four Greater Boston locations, these centers offer canoe and kayak rentals and lessons. The schedule and hours vary by location.
  • Outdoor Recreation of Hopkinton (ORH) — At ORH, you can rent canoes, kayaks, and other equipment, and take kayaking classes. Accessible boating options are also available during the summer, but ORH recommends that you make a reservation.
  • Spot Pond Boating (SPB) — This rental and instruction center is on the outskirts of the Middlesex Fells Reservation. Hours and class schedules change yearly. Rental equipment includes kayaks, canoes, pedal boats, rowboats, and sailboats.

Places to Canoe and Kayak

If you own a canoe or kayak, you can choose from canoeing and kayaking locations by region. With so many options, it can be tough to decide where to go — here’s a quick rundown of some of the Bay State’s highlights:

  • South — 11 locations — You can canoe or kayak on Charge Pond or many of the other 16 ponds in the Myles Standish State Forest. There are also five camping areas you can book if you want to stay overnight.
  • North — 13 locations — Take in some sunshine and a bit of literary history when you canoe and kayak in the pond that inspired writer Henry David Thoreau’s book “Walden” at the Walden Pond State Reservation.
  • Central — 12 locations — Enjoy a picnic after spending the day canoeing or kayaking on Wickett Pond at Wendell State Forest.
  • Western — 13 locations — Paddle around and explore the beautiful area surrounding the Berkshires in your canoe or kayak. Locations like Mount Tom State Reservation also offer other activities like hiking and fishing.
  • Boston — 12 locations — There are seven spots just outside Boston, as well as in Newton, Weston, Milton, Needham, and Quincy, where you can canoe and kayak. At sites like Squantum Point Park, you can enjoy a view of the Boston skyline while you’re out on the water.

Accessible Canoeing and Kayaking at DCR Parks

As part of DCR’s Universal Access Program, many parks offer accessible boating so that everyone can have fun at Massachusetts state parks and enjoy a relaxing time paddling in a canoe or kayak.

Parks that provide equipment include the Connecticut River Greenway State ParkDaughters of the American Revolution (DAR) State Forest, Hampton Ponds State ParkQuinsigamond State Park, and Walden Pond State Reservation.

Now that you know where to canoe and kayak in Massachusetts, grab your gear and head out for a fun day on the water.

Where is your favorite place to canoe or kayak in the Bay State? Show us by tweeting a picture @MassGov.

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