Come paddle with OAP! We have a variety of amazing paddling options here in Massachusetts! Our trips range from the Merrimack River (here in Lowell where we have our summer Kayak Center), other rivers in Massachusetts, and coastal paddling. We use kayaks on the coast, and also have access to tandem kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddleboards for inland adventures.
Lowell's section of the Merrimack River is beautiful to look at as well as paddle on - calm and relaxing on its flat water, and exciting below the dam with significant rocks and rapids. Our OAP trips will stay on the flatwater upstream of Lowell's dam, where the water is calm with a mild downstream current. The river is wide with trees on both sides. We will paddle under bridges (like the Rourke Bridge) and there are great places to explore, like the channelized Stony River, which goes underneath buildings! On the Merrimack River, some trips may use canoes or stand-up paddleboards, as well as kayaks! Occasionally, we may do trips that are downstream of the whitewater section near UML, in areas where there might be more challenge, like increased flow and obstacles (rocks, etc.). The Merrimack River originates in the White Mountains of NH and flows through several major NH cities (Concord, Manchester and Nashua), before flowing through Lowell (and its many historical canals) and out to the ocean north of Gloucester.
Exertion and Skill Level: Merrimack River
- Merrimack River duration: 1-4 hours.
- Conditions will shift based on weather, but generally the section of the Merrimack River we use (upstream of the Lowell dam) is very friendly to beginners, with slight current, wide flow, and few obstacles. In the case of significant wind or thunderstorms, we will adjust our plan. Rain is no problem for paddling!
- Skill level: No experience necessary. Physical exertion*: Light to Moderate.
Atlantic Ocean and Annisquam River Near Gloucester, Massachusetts
Exertion and Skill Level: Coastal Kayaking
- Coastal Paddling duration: 3-6 hours.
- Paddling difficulty rises with increased wind speed, wave direction and period, and ocean swell.
- Skill level: No experience necessary. Physical exertion*: Moderate to Vigorous, depending on wind and tide conditions.
*Exertion levels are estimates based off of individuals who regularly fulfill the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines (pdf) and have no major limiting conditions. Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns regarding the physical exertion level of any of our trips.
Tentative Itinerary (Coastal Paddling)
Due to the nature of outdoor trips and uncontrollable variables, all itineraries are subject to change.
- We will get ourselves and our gear prepped - put on wet suits, learn about some basic strokes and talk about safety.
- Every boat and all gear (wetsuits, life jackets, paddles, etc.) will be washed and scrubbed with fresh water and returned to its proper location. The group will then spend a little time debriefing the trip.
- Leave No Trace
- Water Safety
- Kayak Strokes
- Appropriate Dressing for Ocean Conditions
- Navigation & Chart Reading
- Wind, Tides and Ocean Conditions
The items on this list are strongly recommended for your trip. The weather forecast and your thermal perception should be considered when packing.
- Online medical questionnaire and waiver
- Personal Medications
- Medical Insurance Card
- Chap Stick/Lip Balm Sun protection
- Baseball Cap/Full-Brim Hat Sun protection
- Sunglasses Sun protection
- Sunglasses Keeper Strap Protects sunglasses; floating strap recommended
- Bandana versatile as a rag, hanky, napkin, etc.
- Method of Payment and/or Lunch & Snacks
- *2 Water Bottles Hydration
- Swim Suit To wear underneath a wet suit when Coastal Kayaking
- Synthetic Clothing Quick dry; wear physical activity/outdoor clothing; avoid cotton, no jeans; Recommend long sleeves and pants when used without wetsuit on Merrimack River.
- Water Shoes/Sandals or Old Sneakers Protect your feet from cuts/infection; shoes or sandals; must cover toes; no flip flops. You will step into the water and should always be prepared to get fully wet.
- Extra set of clothes In case you get wet and need to change for the drive home
- **First Aid Safety first, First Aid Kit, Emergency Communication Device
- **Activity Specific Gear: Dry bag, paddle, life jacket, wet suit, splash jacket
*All items with one asterisk are available to check out and are included in the cost of your registration.
*All items under "Activity Specific Gear" are supplied automatically by the Outdoor Adventure Program. All participant equipment is subject to trip leader approval. Please, contact us to review any personal gear you would like to bring in substitution of the gear we may provide.
To register for upcoming trips visit the: