One of the beauties of kayak touring is that it is so easy to do. Anyone can take up the activity with minimal instruction, and you don’t need to be the Hulk to move your boat nimbly over the water. You go as far as your own paddle power will take you.
Kayak touring requires three basic items: A lightweight boat, no more than 35 pounds, one you can hoist onto the top of your car by yourself; a lightweight wood or fiberglass paddle; and a PFD or life jacket. Beyond that is an array of safety gear, depending on risks you want to take and what is required by law. That ranges from a whistle to an EPIRB (emergency position indicating radio beacon), T-shirt to a drysuit, see-you-laters to a float plan filed with friends or family.
The following are some of our favorite inland places to paddle in G.E.T.’s wide region. They share much in common: spectacular scenery, a chance for the rarity of complete silence, and good public access.
The Adirondack Park in upstate New York has more than 3,000 lakes and ponds and 30,000 miles of rivers and streams. They are vast, wild, and primal. You can string these bodies of water together via carries dating back to the Native Americans. Protected paddling (except when it’s not), detailed maps, and lots of other paddlers make this one of the best places for paddlers in the Northeast. We return every summer to tour the Bog River, Little Tupper Lake, Round Lake, Rock Pond, Saranac Lakes, and Fish Creek to name a few.
New Hampshire’s Squam Lake has good access from the Squam Lakes Association plus island camping. Grafton Pond bans motorboats with engines over 8 mph. The very remote Connecticut Lakes are a bird watching paradise. The Contoocook River is a silvery ribbon meandering through the countryside. The Mahoosuc Mountains provide a stunning backdrop for a trip down the Androscoggin River.
In Vermont, the Brattleboro Outing Club (BOC), one of the oldest civic outdoor sports associations in the country, hosts paddle trips every summer for members. Just show up with your own boat or board and related gear. Rentals are available locally through the Canoe Touring Center in Brattleboro. BOC goes to the Connecticut River, Tully Lake, Harriman Reservoir, Ashuelot River, and others. It’s nice to paddle in the company of other kayakers.
The Charles River in Massachusetts has strategically located boathouses in the Boston area. You can spot a car and do a six- or ten-mile paddle downstream, stop at a restaurant for lunch, paddle through the locks next to the Science Museum and maybe paddle into Boston Harbor to see the USS Constitution.
In northern Maine, Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC’s) new Medawisla Lodge and Cabins is completely off the grid and located on Second Roach Pond, with free kayaks and stand-up paddleboards provided. It sits in 70,000 acres of forestland permanently conserved by AMC as part of its Maine Woods Initiative. At nearby ponds, AMC has placed canoes at portages, so you can make your way from one pond to the next — moose and loon sightings guaranteed.
The AMC Quiet Water Guides are a good source for motor-free paddle trips.
Tamsin Venn is the publisher of Atlantic Coastal Kayaker Magazine: atlanticcoastalkayaker.com.