If you are a flat water kayaker looking for a bit more of a challenge, then I have the river for you! Just about 20 miles north of Boston, in the small town of Tewksbury is the Shawsheen River. The river is not just in Tewksbury, but the “put in” in Tewksbury will allow you to paddle up or down stream. If one heads north towards Andover, moving with the current, the trip is about 6 miles. Or one could head south towards Billerica, moving against the current, for about 4 miles. Now you may be reading this and saying to yourself a 4 or 6 mile paddle on a flat river does’nt sound like much of a challenge, and I would agree with you, but the Shawsheen is not your typical flat water river. Picture a snake, a very long snake, twisting it’s way through the jungle. Have the picture? Does the picture resemble a huge “S”? If it does then that is the Shawsheen…with a little bit more of a twist. There are more turns then there are straights on the Shawsheen. Some of these turns are of the ninety degree variety. Not to worry, the river is about 20′ wide or better.
The last paddle trip I took on the Shawsheen was late November, before all the snow started. I was in my Dagger Blackwater 12.5, a recreational boat designed for flat water and mild ocean. My companion was in his 17 foot sea kayak. He may have had the speed, but I had the maneuverability. I was able to cut into the turns a little later and tighter. The 17 foot boat had to start turning a lot earlier and plan the turn a bit differently. Going against the current this made for a bit of work, especially when there are some low branches to work around. We paddled for about 90 minutes and then decided to head back. The trip back was covered in less than half the time. Basically, just sit back and let the current do the work for you. Of course, one still has to set up for the turns and paddles a bit.
During the trip we did see quite a few Canada Geese, and a pair of Red Tail Hawks circling overhead. So if you are in the Boston area, or plan to be, and want to have a couple of hours of fun on the Water, come up to Tewksbury and try the Shawsheen. I think you will enjoy it.
Please visit The Shawsheen River Watershed Council , recreational map for more information about the river and recommended trips.