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8 Gorgeous Kayaking Spots in the Northeast United States

Kayaking In The Northeast

One of the best ways to beat the heat during the summer months is to jump into a kayak and head out onto the plethora of rivers, lakes, and streams that are available across the Northeastern United States. If you have the luck of living in one of the New England states or are planning on traveling to one of these in the near future, make sure to check out one of the below kayaking spots! Not only is it a family-friendly adventure, but there are dozens of locations available.

  1. Plum Island, Massachusetts: whether you want to travel through the protected marshes, tour along the open waterways, or take on a private tour and lesson, Plum Island, Massachusetts is a great kayaking experience for those of any skill levels. If you are looking for a unique kayaking experience, Plum Island does allow you to observe seals in their natural habitat which is not something you will see from many other tours. If you are really into tours, Plum Island has daily tours, full moon tours, horseshoe crab tours, and an isle of shoals trip which takes you around several of the smaller islands. For more information on kayak tours and rentals, check out Plum Island Kayak.
  2. Boston Harbor Islands, Massachusetts: for those who want to get away from the city for a while but don’t want to drive too far can check out kayaking in and around Spectacle Island. It is important that if you do head out in a kayak into the harbor, that you stay alert as the harbor is active at all times with massive ships that cannot stop for smaller boats. One of the advantages of kayaking in and around Spectacle Island is that you’ll get a gorgeous viewpoint and you’ll be able to learn about the history of the island. Plus, if you really want there are sea kayaking tours that you can take. The great thing about the harbor is that you get to see the Boston skyline, paddle past Harvard and MIT, and enjoy dozens of portage and launch sites. Paddle Boston has a collection of information about tours and rentals. If you have your own boat and know where you want to go, check out the public kayak launch at Fort Point Pier.
  3. Lake Umbagog, New Hampshire: if watching the wildlife play then checking out Lake Umbagog in New Hampshire is a must. The lake has a National Wildlife Refuge which allows you to see all kinds of seabirds and other wildlife at play. The only issue with the lake is that it is a bit shallow, so it can get very windy before dusk. It’s a much better spot for late morning and early afternoon kayakers. Visit Northern Waters Outfitters, ELC Outdoors, and Rangeley Region Lake Cruises and Kayaking for information about rentals and tours in the area.
  4. Acadia National Park, Maine: this is one of the best places to go if you are in Maine just because of the scenic views and diversity of wildlife in and around the park. Not only will you get to see Harbor and Grey seals, but there are porpoises and all kinds of birds including woodpeckers, eagles, ospreys, kingfishers, mallard ducks, and herrings. If you are looking for longer eco-tours or want to be on the water for more than an hour, check out the day trips that are offered here. Visit National Park Sea Kayak Tours or National Park Canoe and Kayak Rental.
  5. Lake Champlain, in Vermont and New York: this is a wonderful place to learn how to kayak as the waters are almost always calm due to being surrounded by farmlands. This is a great place to bring your kids if you want an active and user-friendly option as a one-day activity. In addition to customized tours, there are also kayak camps for kids! Check out the Community Sailing Center in Burlington VT, or Bagg’s Landing in Peru, NY.
  6. The Coastal Regions of Connecticut: if you are looking for smaller freshwater lakes, marshes, calm waters, and a diverse and beautiful waterway to work on your kayaking skills or enjoy a peaceful outing, the coastal regions of Connecticut is the place to go. They have several islands that you can kayak around including Griswold and Thimble, which are great for learning how to sea kayak. Black Hall Outfitters, Three Belles Outfitters, and Indian River Marina are a few places to start researching an outing along the Connecticut Coast.
  7. Upper Wood River, Rhode Island: if easy-going kayaking is what you want, the calm waters and undeveloped landscape of the Upper Wood River off of Rhode Island is a great adventure. Not only can you work your way through the woods but there are many places where you can stop and have a picnic, making a perfect quiet outing. Get more information about this area at Queens River Kayaks.
  8. Saco River, Maine: this is one of the more popular vacation spots for outdoor kayaking adventures. The reason for this is the kayaking starting point for this river is near a popular access point, so if you are looking to group up with other kayaking adventurers, this is the place to do it! Saco River Canoe & Kayak has canoe, kayak, and tube rentals.
  9. Bonus destination, Adirondack Mountains of northern NY State: You may also be interested in our article on kayak camping here on this site. A great place to give this a try is in the Adirondack Mountains of northern NY State. Check out the Northern Forest Canoe Trail on the Fulton Chain of Lakes for information and help setting up your itinerary.

For those who want something a bit different and are looking for a whitewater river adventure in their kayak, try out the Deerfield River, located up near the mountains in the western part of Massachusetts. Unlike the calm marshes and rivers of the other New England States, the western portion of Massachusetts has some extremely challenging rapids and ferocious streams. Keep in mind though, if you do want to go whitewater rafting, make sure that your skill level suits the area you are headed to, otherwise it may become a dangerous unwanted adventure.

For more reading, check out my guide to Kayak Camping. You may also be interested in these camping destinations in Maine!

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