Instructional Programs

Canoe Basics

Almost a private introductory lesson, this small group, relaxed 2-hour instructional session is an introduction to basic safety, strokes, recovery and flatwater canoeing technique. Learn to canoe on this lovely and calm stretch of Merrimack river. This course may include a swim so be prepared to get wet!

Canoes are related to kayaks but differ in important ways. The most noticeable difference is that a canoe is open from the gunwales (outside edges) all around you, while most kayaks have decked hulls, meaning they are closed around you. Typically, two people paddle a canoe, each using a single-bladed paddle on opposite sides. Canoes are fantastic for many conditions and uses, especially a river like the Merrimack. Because of their open style, they can haul a lot of gear and can even be carried on your shoulders, so they make great boats for overnight canoe trips when you will need to walk a distance, sometimes between lakes. Some canoes are flatter on the bottom and some are more angled or rounded, giving you different abilities in different kinds of water (flat or moving). If you are interested in just having fun or starting to do some canoe day trips or camping trips, we can help you get the basics down!

Group size limited to 6 max (3 canoes). You do not have to have a partner to sign up; our staff can partner with you!


All necessary program equipment is provided.

Please see the plan your visit page for online waivers and what to bring and wear.

Physical Exertion

Easy: Participants will paddle 0-2 mi./0-4 km. on flat water conditions with minimal wind. No previous experience is required. Participant must be able to keep head up while wearing a life jacket in deep water. Paddle times usually run approximately 1.5 hours.


Appropriate for adults and older children when accompanied by a parent.

Must be able to independently keep head above water while wearing in a life jacket/pfd.

No previous experience required.


The cost is $30 and includes instruction and equipment rental.

Dates and TimesOnline Registration Link
Saturday, July 1, 2023, 4-6 p.m.Canoe Basics Registration - July 1
Saturday, July 22, 2023, 4-6 p.m.Canoe Basics Registration - July 22