River Recreation Maps & Kayaking Tips

Check out the special beauty seasonal changes bring to our rivers!

For trips and ideas, go to our online Assabet, Sudbury, and Concord River recreation maps! You will find detailed information on river access points, walking trails, and bike paths.

To request a printed map (specify which river) and receive email updates: email OARS.

When boating, you might find some obstructions or other passage problems on your planned trip. If you find new ones, please let us know when and where you found them and send a photo(s) to office@oars3rivers.org.

Look for our maps in local libraries, town offices, outdoor stores, and at the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center. If you have trouble finding them, please email OARS.

Most of the Assabet, Sudbury and Concord Rivers are classified as flatwater/quietwater. There are some Class I/II rapids in Maynard that can provide a challenge for beginner whitewater boaters. The Concord River in Lowell has three Class III/IV rapids (Twisted Sister, Three Beauties, and Middlesex Dam); there are whitewater rafting trips available in the spring. Put-ins are located throughout the watershed and are shown on the recreation guides, which can help you find the best ways to safely navigate the rivers.

Information about fishing on our rivers.

The Concord, Sudbury and Assabet Rivers
A guide to canoeing, wildlife and history
by Ron McAdow

Ron has written one of the best guides to the Assabet River in this handy and informative book. Each river is covered from headwaters to end point, with put-ins, places of interest, suggested outings, and natural history woven together with wonderful illustrations by Gordon Morrison.
The guide is available from the Sudbury Valley Trustees.

AMC River Guide
Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island
AMC's guides are well respected and this one is no exception. Now in its third edition the guide provides lots of useful information about navigating the rivers of New England, including the Assabet River.
This guide is available from the Appalachian Mountain Club, local bookstores and outdoor shops.

AMC Quiet Water Canoe Guide
Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island
Like its sister publication, the AMC Quiet Water guide provides detailed information about area ponds, lakes, and reservoirs. The Assabet Reservoir in Westborough (the headwaters of the Assabet River) is featured in this guide.
This guide is available from the Appalachian Mountain Club, local bookstores and outdoor shops.


Keep Warm & Paddle On
Winter Paddling in Massachusetts

Not all paddlers think of kayaking as exclusively a warm-weather sport; in fact, OARS members include a number of four-season paddlers. Board member Roger Beatty is one of them.

Roger says that a great part of the joy of kayaking our watershed is to pay close attention to the change of seasons: knowing the rivers in their winter dress is vital to understanding the whole cycle. The winter palette—grey woods, brown meadows, white ice, and blue sky—presents a vastly different look from our spring and summer seasons, but it has its own stark beauty. The spareness of color in January might give you the sense that the whole watershed is asleep, but it’s all just waiting to explode back into life as the sun climbs through February and March. It’s a rare privilege to witness up close all the stages in the process. Roger advises keeping an eye on the willows for the earliest signs of spring.

While he tends to avoid high winds and temperatures much below 30F, that still leaves him plenty of bright mid-winter days to get out and explore the watershed. Even in the dead of winter, he finds the rivers are alive with geese and swans, and even the occasional swimming beaver (they don’t hibernate) or otter playing on the ice. It’s rare to see another kayak, though! If you enjoy outdoor solitude and tuning in to the rhythm of the seasons, winter kayaking might be for you.

The logistics of winter kayaking are a little more complicated—sometimes shore ice blocks the launches, and occasionally even the fastest-flowing channels freeze up. Roger keeps an axe in the car to break through edge ice at the launches—a good technique, as long as you’re sure the ice won’t reform while you’re off exploring! Make sure you have an ice-free take-out point to make a safe exit. If you kayak alone or in remote areas, a wet suit or dry suit is an absolute must. Take a dry bag with a change of warm clothes; a thermos of hot coffee and a cell phone are good ideas too. You can do an internet search on “winter kayaking” to get lots of safety tips and tricks.

Safety Tips for your Winter Paddles

You should probably wait to paddle on another day if:

  • When temps are below about 26F
  • The wind is consistently above 10 mph.
  • Too much edge ice. Too much ice along the banks creates a dangerous condition: in case of capsize, can you haul yourself out of the river when the banks are blocked by ice? If not, don’t go.

Great days to Paddle:

  • When the forecast calls for sunshine. Sunshine can make even very cold days feel warmer.

General Tips:

  • It’s generally safer to go with a paddling partner. If you enjoy the solitude of a solo paddle, be sure to let others know your planned route and estimated paddle times.
  • Always take a cell phone, and have a friend or family member track your paddle via GPS, so somebody can always locate you wherever you are.
  • Neoprene gloves and a warm wool hat are essential. So are a dry change of clothes and a thermos of hot liquid. A mask to warm your face is also important on very cold or windy days.
  • Roger recommends a sleeveless wetsuit, the “farmer John” variety, which frees your arms and shoulders for paddling but offers a little less protection from cold water exposure.
  • Wear a couple of woolen layers under your wetsuit and a windbreaker or hoody outside to protect yourself from cold air and wind.
  • Take sunglasses. The sun is low in the sky all winter, creating extra glare off the water that can blind you in some stretches.

Share the Joy:

  • Take many photos regardless of the season and share them with family and friends, and OARS! We love to receive pictures of people enjoying the SuAsCo Rivers.