Paddling can be a broad term. For some, the word “paddling” brings to mind a high-energy, fast-paced sport on turbulent rivers — the perfect activity to replace skiing during warmer months. For others, paddling induces thoughts of a more relaxing day on one of Maine’s lakes, watching bald eagles soar overhead, or of spending a night at a boat-access tentsite on an island in Casco Bay. Others envision a day of floating off of New England’s rocky coastline, watching as seals and whales surface just beyond the break.
New England’s whitewater paddling doesn’t necessarily compare to some Western destinations like Wyoming, Colorado, and Oregon when it comes to consistent and reliable paddling conditions. But whitewater paddlers in New England live for the spring thaw, when the high-altitude snow begins to melt, transforming small and steep mountain streams into raging whitewater runs, ready to test even the most-experienced paddlers. This, combined with the diversity of available paddling styles — ranging from relaxed flatwater to multi-day sea kayaking excursions — make New England a renowned paddling destination.
For this reason, there are a number of paddling clubs throughout the region, perfect for paddlers of all experience levels.
“Going with a club is beneficial because you can learn from experts,” said Suzie Laskin, a veteran paddler of more than 40 years and founder of the now-defunct Mount Washington Valley Paddlers Club. “You’ll also meet people who you can paddle with all of the time. It’s really about friendship and camaraderie.”