Paddlers on the Squannacook River – Photo by Nancy Ohringer

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.

Canoeists on the Nissitisset River – Photo by Buddy DoughertyBeyond 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.

Pack a picnic, bring your binoculars, and see our landscape from a new vantage point. Please come back to our site and share your paddling story and photos-- tell us what you saw along the river and let other paddlers know where they might enjoy a fun river trip-- by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Pond Access Information

Mass Wildlife
On-line Pond Maps 

NH Fish and Game
Boating and Fishing Sites