Parker River (Newbury, MA) to Plum Island Sound (Newburyport, MA) kayak trip log

23 05 2009

The Parker River is pretty mellow and Plum Island Sound was too (when we were there.) Low tide was kind of nice, since it limits boat traffic. There are beautiful beaches on the Sound side of Plum Island…they’re part of the Wildlife Refuge. See note below.

Route Map


May 23, 2009

Launch Point:

The best spot to launch is probably off Route 1, where it crosses Parker River, at the state launch…we didn’t launch there for this trip, but we’re going to try it. Unless you’re a Newbury resident, you cannot launch at the Newbury Town Launch, which is off High Street (Route 1a) — that is for permited Newbury residents only (not Newburyport) and you can’t pay them to launch. When we were there investigating, there was a harbormaster we chatted with, so it appears that they are checking for permits. Shame they wouldn’t just charge us a bit and let us drop our little boats in. 😦 We were tipped off to another spot along the Parker River, but there’s almost no parking where we launched and it’s a very quiet residential neighborhood, so we’re going to be cool and not publish that.

Trip Length:

2 – 3 hours, depending where you launch


We launched about 3 hours after high tide and didn’t real feel much of a current at all.

Trip Log:

We put in along the Parker River, bearing right at the end to paddle into the Sound. It was really nice and mellow, but wayyyy shallow! Our handy waterproof map has the channel marked, but stay to the side of it, as there are some speed boats (not too many when we were there, though.) There is a huge sand bar in the middle. We had fun with that and got out to check out some shells.

Hanging on the sand bar.

Hanging at the bar...of sand.

We were looking for a short trip so we headed across to one of the beaches toward the north end of the Wildlife Refufe. To note: We have read somewhere that you’re really not supposed to land on the beaches of the Wildlife Refuge (the ones that face Plum Island Sound) due to the wildlife that’s refuge-ing there.

(Though there’s this strange thing about the Wildlife Refuge where part of it is open for hunting of “geese, ducks and ‘american coot‘”….and part of it is a refuge. Sucks to be a geese, ducks or coot that can’t read a map. To be clear, we’ve never personally encountered hunters there or felt unsafe…it’s just…a little weird.)

OK, I digress. So anyway, rumored rules aside, we did land on the beach for a lookabout (hey, it wasn’t actually posted), but we were very quiet and respectful. You just might not want to pull up with a cooler and a crowd, that’s all we’re sayin’. After that, we just tooled around the Sound a bit and headed back to our secret launch point (The launch point was a bit muddy at low tide, so it really isn’t ideal for a variety of reasons.)

How fabulous is this?

How fabulous is this?




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