DISCLAIMER- These put-ins were legal to use (as and when specified) when the descriptions were written. However, due to the vagaries of federal law, local ordinances, erosion, wind/wave conditions and other factors, we cannot ensure that you will not encounter legal issues when using these locations or that they will be safe for you, your vehicle or for launching and landing at all times. It is your responsibility to determine the legality, suitability and safety of these sites for yourself.
Names of put-ins link to maps.
Essex town boat ramp is the standard put-in for the Essex Bay. Parking at the boat ramp is for residents only, parking is behind the fire station (going north, just up the road take the left fork, and the fire station is a couple hundred feet on the left). There is no parking for non-residents at the boat ramp EVEN IN WINTER. On Route 133 in the center of Essex.
Corliss Landing Access to the Annisquam River. Take Route 128 N to Route 127 North, in about 0.25 mile, take a slight left onto Wheeler Street and then a left onto Apple Street.
Gloucester High School (Dunfudgin Landing) Access to the Annisquam River, just north of the Blynman Canal (aka “the cut”). Take Route 127 over the Blynman Canal Bridge. Turn left at light to Centennial Avenue. Go past the entrance for Gloucester High School and turn left on Emerson Ave. This is a busy powerboat launch; don’t obstruct.
Pavilion Beach (Gloucester) (aka the Greasy Pole) Take Route 127 over the Blynman Canal and drive 0.4 mile to the public landing on right. Small parking lot at the landing and street parking along the beach. Parking, if available, is free. Porta-potties at lot.
Lanes Cove on Cape Ann is on the northwest side of the Cape, providing a starting point for exploring the Annisquam or rounding Halibut Point to get to Rockport and the Dry Salvages. It’s on Duley Street, 0ff 127. Launch from the head of the cove and then park either in the main lot or back up on the main road – walking distance varies with the tide. Free parking; no facilities.
Long Wharf Town Landing Access to quiet water off the Annisquam River. Off Atlantic Street (signed for Wingaersheek Beach). Free parking.
Pavilion Beach (Ipswich) is located where Plum Island Sound opens into Ipswich Bay. From here you can explore Plum Island, several tidal rivers, Crane Beach on Castle Neck, or perhaps paddle as far as Cape Ann. The beach is open to the sea, and you can get dumping surf. The currents are strong but manageable. From Ipswich, take Jeffreys Neck Road to Little Neck Road to Pavilion Beach. The strip of land between Great Neck and Little Neck is Pavilion Beach. Launching is permitted at the beach’s north end. Free parking; no facilities.
DO NOT LAND at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge:
Launching or landing a boat on the Refuge is a violation of Federal regulations. All nautical charts make note that it is a violation to land on the Refuge beach, but also marsh areas are protected as well. This includes Grape Island, Middle Ground, Nelson Island, or any other marsh areas within the Refuge boundary. The Refuge is a place to protect wildlife and its habitat, and marsh areas provide critical feeding and nesting sites. Avoid disturbing the refuge and the possibility of receiving a fine; the rangers take their job seriously. Landing is permitted on Sawyer’s Island on Mud Creek, an Essex County Greenbelt property.
Riverhead Beach/ Devereux Beach On Ocean Ave, at the beginning of the causeway from Marblehead to Marblehead neck. Devereux Beach is on the right and Riverhead is on the left (very small driveway).
Riverhead gives direct access to the harbor and Salem Sound, although at low tide you’ll have to carry for a hundred yards or so of gravel, shells and sand – it is drivable. The paddle through the harbor is busy on summer weekends; watch out for the motor launches.
Devereux will give you access to the open ocean, the Swampscott coast, and Nahant Bay beyond. You will have no sheltered waters to hide in if the weather goes bad. Parking is $5 in the summer and there is a public restroom and snack bar accessible from both areas. Off season only as lifeguards don’t allow launching.
Nahant Beach is a favorite of surfers for its clean breakers. Nahant Causeway to boat launch and Long Beach at Nahant Beach Reservation, or Lynn Shore Drive to Red Rock Park and King’s Beach at Lynn Shore Reservation.
Front Beach is a good off-season put-in right in Rockport. Expect parking tickets in the summer. It’s on Beach Street, just west of Bearskin Neck.
Granite Pier is north of Rockport harbor. $5 parking.
Pebble Beach provides easy access to Milk Island and Thacher Island, and surfing opportunities. It’s a cobble beach; the “pebbles” are about 4 inches. On Penzance Road, off South Street off 127A. Pull all the way to the east end of the beach.
Penzance road has been subject to severe erosion in the past few years and has frequently been impassable or closed. When it’s open, there are also issues with parking in-season.
Winter Island is operated by the City of Salem from May 1-Oct. 31, parking is $5.00. There are camping, restroom and shower facilities here. This is a good location if you’re a solo or beginning paddler, providing shoreline viewing of Beverly and Marblehead depending on your direction. Boat ramp is at the south end of park. Alternatively you can launch from the beach near Fort Pickering light.
Dover Point/Hilton Park The boat ramp at the tip of Dover Point (Hilton Park) provides easy access to Little Bay, the upper Piscataqua River, and the Salmon Falls River. From Rt. 95 heading north, take exit 4 on to the Spaulding Turnpike (Hwy 16). After you cross the bridge, take the first exit to the boat ramp.
Portsmouth Harbor Peirce Island in Portsmouth is a popular public boat ramp. Get off Rt. 95 at exit 7 and follow the signs to Strawbery Banke. The turn for Peirce Island is just past the gardens on the left side of Marcy St. Open May-October. There may be a $10 fee for non-residents.
Rye Harbor This is the usual put-in when paddling to the Isle of Shoals. It is a State Boat Ramp with a parking and launching fee. On Rt 1A north of Rye Beach. Flush toilets. Lobster rolls, hot dogs, and the like in season; a good lunch stop.
Seabrook/Hampton Harbor There are several places in Hampton Harbor to put in, but only one that has free parking. It is about 20 yards from parking lot to water. This gives access to a large marsh area, Hampton/Seabrook Harbor and Hampton/Seabrook Beaches. At high tide it is a large lake while at low tide there are many channels to follow. Going under the bridge to the ocean can be a little rough depending upon the tide and winds. On the west side of Rt 1A, just south of the bridge from Seabrook to Hampton Beach. The parking lot faces Seabrook Harbor and there is easy access to a small beach.
Seavey Creek/Odiorne A popular put-in in the Portsmouth area (Rye, NH) is Seavey Creek, at the north/east end of Odiorne State Park on Rt 1A. Access to protected paddling in Little Harbor, currents around the bridges, or open water to Gerrish Island or Rye Harbor. There is free, sometimes congested parking on the north side of the Creek, and the launch is muddy. A $5 fee may be charged at the lot on the south side of the Creek, but there is a gradual cement launching surface. Difficult at lower tides.
East End Beach provides access to the harbor and islands in western Casco Bay. Take Franklin St, left on Fore Street, to the park – Eastern Promenade on your right. You need to unload at the bathrooms and carry the boats to the sandy beach, then park your car in the upper lot. Bathrooms are available. Kayaks cannot be launched from the middle commercial ramp. Use East End Beach as a put-in for Peaks Island. In order to avoid ferry traffic, paddle first to Gorges Island, then to the southern tip of Little Diamond Island, then to the ferry pier on the west shore of Peaks Island. Maine Island Kayak Company is a few blocks from that pier.
Bug Light Park offers similar access to East End. Seasonal rest rooms and parking fees.
Sandy Point Beach, Cousins Island From this Casco Bay put-in, one can travel south, around Cousins, and just about see the normal Maine Island Trail Association (MITA) starting point; or go north then east and out through the Royal River channel. … or a zillion other directions through the islands. There is a parking lot on the left immediately after crossing the bridge onto Cousins Island. Take the paths down to the beach area on the right of the bridge as viewed from the parking lot.
Harpswell At the end of Basin Point is Dolphin Marina, which offers ready access to the east end of Casco Bay: Whaleboat, Eagle, and Jewell islands. There’s a daily fee for parking, but it may be discounted with a meal at the restaurant. Rest rooms and showers are available.
Buckmaster Neck You can launch from Old Quarry Ocean Adventures, a campsite and kayak outfitter, for a $5 fee. Parking is $6-7 per day. There is a MITA discount. There’s a store with charts, kayak supplies, sandwiches, and ice.