Swan Pond River - Winding River with great bird watching

A self-supported trip created by pzahornasky

Trip Overview

Before starting out, make sure to check the tide and wind, so you know what to expect. We did this trip in about an hour and a half, not really pushing ourselves downstream and riding the current and wind back to the launch point. I've done the same trip in similar conditions in about 50 minutes, but that was during a kayak race with no breaks.

My daugher and I started from the launch point on Upper County Road and headed toward the ocean. An incoming tide, along with a good headwind meant you had to keep paddling or you would go backwards.

Paddlers will see a number egrets, ducks, osprey and other birds on their trip. There are two osprey nests, one at the launch point, another near Swan River Seafood. Plenty of ducks as well.

The river meanders with many 90 degree (and greater) turns giving novice paddlers some unexpected paths when coming around a corner. If you have a rudder, it is very useful in these sections. Just stay off the apexes of the curves at high water as these are typically very shallow and filled with shellfish.

Cape Cod Waterways has a boat rental shop at Route 28 where you can get kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards. This puts a lot of people on the river on the weekends if the weather is nice.

Once you get past Swan River Seafood on Lower County Road, there is access to the ocean. At low tide there are some sand bars at the mouth of the river to beach your boat. The beach to the right (facing the ocean) is private as is the boat launch area. If you have kids and the tide is going out, they will have a great time jumping from the rock wall and riding the tide down to the sandbars where they can touch bottom, get out, go back, and do it again.

Navigating into Nantucket Sound is not for beginners. Between the tides, sandbars, and wind, it can be tricky. The entire mouth is shallow. At extreme low tide you might need to get out to drag your boat to deeper water. At higher tides the sandbars under the surface create some tricky currents that you have to fight. Once you get out into the Sound, expect waves from 1-3 feet, depending on the wind and time of day. Weekends will have considerable boat and PWC traffic to contend with as well.

There is a large sandbar to the left (facing the ocean) that is also private. The owners here are very viligant about keeping people off this beach, including signs and even one year, having someone stationed to warn people off.

Massachusetts extends ownership down to the mean low tide line, but does offer access between the mean low and high tide line:

MGL c.91 Waterways. Section 1 maintains the historical right of access to fish or fowl, defining "Private tidelands'', as "tidelands held by a private party subject to an easement of the public for the purposes of navigation and free fishing and fowling and of passing freely over and through the water."

Typically courts have taken this to mean you can walk along between the low and high tide marks, but not stop. You can also fish between these points, so having a fishing pole handy would certainly be good if you want to stop here. But I am not a lawyer so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ .

Here is the link to the Massachusetts laws about beach rights

Gear Notes

17' Necky Narpa

12' 6" Old Town Castine

Trip Details

  • Trip Dates: 7/18/2022
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Stand Up Paddling, Kayak Fishing
  • Skill Level: Beginner, Intermediate
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)

Trip Location