Paddling the Nashua River and its Tributaries
Canoers and kayakers alike will find many fascinating places to explore in the Nashua River watershed. The Nashua River and its tributaries generally present flat water paddling, with faster water during spring runoff or periods of heavy rain. Our waterways are great for family outings, and as a place for beginners to learn paddling skills. Our Nashua River Canoe and Kayak Guide provides detailed information on the Nashua, Squannacook, and Nissitissit Rivers including access points, hazards, and a description of the rivers segmented in trip form. Nashoba Paddler in West Groton, Massachusetts rents boats and other equipment for your adventure. If you’re looking for a guided river adventure for a school or youth group, consider our River Classroom® program.
A wonderful segment of the mainstem Nashua River runs from Still River to Groton, approximately 17 miles, with a single portage around the beautifully restored Ayer Ice House Dam. This scenic paddle passes through the Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge where a wide variety of birds and wildlife may be seen. Above the Ayer Ice House Dam, the river wanders through the Groton Town Forest and Sabine Woods, past the mouth of the Squannacook River (worth exploring), under historic Fitch’s Bridge, and into the oxbows of Pepperell Pond above the Pepperell Dam. This is a great adventure any day but is particularly outstanding in autumn when the trees along the banks reach the peak of their fall color. While out on the water, you will feel like you’re miles from the nearest civilization.
Beyond the rivers, our watershed has dozens of ponds to explore. For example, Bare Hill Pond in Harvard and Paradise Pond in the Leominster State Forest are lovely places to paddle, with islands and coves to investigate. Most ponds have public access; a quick check with the local town clerk will clarify accessibility and boat launch fees, if any.
Pond Access Information
On-line Pond Maps
NH Fish and Game
Boating and Fishing Sites