Paddle Your Own Canoe

  • Visit North Central

Kayaks are Welcome, Too!

Johnny Appleseed Country is liberally sprinkled with pristine waterways for kayaking and canoeing adventures. The area provides a great mix of paddling experiences, from open-water lake jaunts and flatwater river excursions to tiny wetland explorations, and even a few whitewater locales.

In addition to the tranquil scenery, paddlers will see plenty of wildlife, including birds of prey, warblers, red-wing blackbirds, and kingbirds leading you down the shoreline. In addition, the odds are decent to spot a beaver, mink, or deer – with luck, even moose and bald eagles!

“What I love about kayaking in the North Quabbin region is that every trip is different. The time of year and even the time of day can completely alter the experience. There is so much diversity in the waterways, and travel with a small boat provides endless opportunities for exploration,” said Scott Maslansky, Project Director for North Quabbin Woods, a nonprofit organization promoting outdoor recreation from its location in downtown Orange.

A few of his favorite spots include the Millers River, Lake Mattawa, Lake Rohunta, Tully Lake and Long Pond, and Sheomet Pond in Warwick State Forest.

Try these trips
The Millers River has easy access from the Alan E. Rich Environmental Park located on Route 2A in Athol as well as the Orange Riverfront Park, just off the center of Orange. Although both parks are in urban areas, within moments you will be whisked away to birdsong and swooping dragonflies.
Lake Mattawa in Orange is a 112-acre lake with clear, spring-fed water allowing you to see 15 feet down. Access to the lake is possible via a public boat ramp on Lake Mattawa Road. You can also enjoy a public beach and swimming there.

The 383-acre Lake Rohunta, located on Eagleville Road in Orange, is a gem for paddlers, but especially for birdwatchers. The causeway on Branch Bridge Road is regarded as one as the best spots in the North Quabbin region for viewing migratory waterfowl like ring-necked ducks, mergansers, and teals.

Areas offer trails, too
Or try the Tully Lake Recreation Area in Royalston, where you can paddle among dozens of islands. The area also includes the narrow Tully River and Long Pond for excellent wildlife viewing. The wetlands and forest support a wide variety of flora and fauna, and a hiking trail loops around the lake connecting visitors to scenic vistas and waterfalls.
Last but certainly not least is Sheomet Pond (Clubhouse Pond) in Warwick State Forest. This lovely setting has over 25 miles of dirt roads crisscrossing 7,000 acres in five different tracts. A portion of the white-blazed Metacomet-Monadnock Trail (the M&M) traverses both forests. Paddlers and swimmers enjoy the serene beauty of the 33-acre pond, created by a dam on Tully Brook originally constructed around the time of the Civil War.

Kayaking and canoeing locations and free recreation maps are available at the North Quabbin Woods information center and artisan gift shop at Routes 2A and 122 in Orange, open Tuesdays through Saturdays. Information is also available at or by calling 978-544-3332.