Cape Cod National Seashore | PADDLING

Kayaking on Williams Pond

Kayaking on Williams Pond

Paddling is a popular activity at Cape Cod National Seashore. Locations include the Pamet River (be careful not to get stuck upstream at low tide), the Nauset Marsh (ditto about low tide), and Provincetown Bay. There are also dozens of small kettle ponds in the park, and those grouped in clusters are sometimes connected together by small but navigable channels. Unfortunately, I have no idea where you would find a list of ponds that allow public access, so your best bet is to ask a park Ranger.

Rangers also lead paddling trips (kayak and canoe) at various locations throughout the park, typically from June through September on select days. I attended a canoe trip on Salt Pond and one on Gull Pond, a kettle pond that connects to Higgins and Williams ponds. There are fees for the trips and reservations are required. Some also require that you have previous paddling experience. If you want to find out when trips are held, visit the National Park Service’s Calendar web page and type “Canoe” or “Kayak” into the Keyword Search area. If that does not return any results for the summer months, call the Salt Pond Visitor Center or the Province Lands Visitor Center and ask when trips are being held.

I only saw three boat launches during my trip to Cape Cod National Seashore, though I am sure there are many more in the surrounding towns (be sure you get the proper town parking permit). One was on the west side of Salt Pond near the Salt Pond Visitor Center. Access is via a turnoff from Highway 6. Small motorboats and hand-paddled watercraft can be launched from here. This is where you would begin a trip through Nauset Marsh. A channel connects Salt Pond to Salt Pond Bay, and if the tides are high, you can even get to the Atlantic Ocean. The parking area is not very large. A dozen vehicles might fit, but there will be even less room once a boat trailer or two is parked. There is a portable toilet available.

Another launch is near the parking area for the Great Island Trail. There is a dirt road that turns off of Chequessett Neck Road just before it intersects with Griffins Island Road. This leads down to a ramp that launches into The Gut on the Herring River. From here you can paddle up the river or out to Wellfleet Harbor and eventually to Cape Cod Bay.

A third launch is at the end of Hemenway Road in the Fort Hill Area of Cape Cod National Seashore. This is a very popular spot for launching canoes, kayaks, and small fishing boats into Nauset Marsh. There’s even room for boat trailer parking. This is a Town of Eastam lot, so you’ll need the appropriate parking permit.

Boat launch on Hemenway Road in the Fort Hill Area of Cape Cod National Seashore

Boat launch on Hemenway Road in the Fort Hill Area of Cape Cod National Seashore

Boat launch parking lot on Hemenway Road in Cape Cod

Boat launch parking lot on Hemenway Road in Cape Cod

For those who are unfamiliar with paddling on bodies of water affected by tides, see the How Tides Affect Your Paddling article here on National Park Planner.

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Last updated on September 21, 2021
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