This past July, my girlfriend and I took an amazing after-work paddle out to the mouth of the Annisquam River in Gloucester, MA. Our launch site was the Long-Warf Landing boat launch. There, we found ample parking and a group of towns people sunbathing, launching motor boats, and otherwise enjoying the pleasant, mid-summer afternoon. After gearing up, we launched our kayaks directly from the unimproved boat launch and headed NE down the Annisquam River.
The winds started out light but we were fighting a stiff incoming tide as we navigated the Annisquam River marshes on the way toward its mouth in the North. Along the way we sighted numerous boats and shore birds and were entertained by the grandeur and extravagance of the homes that line the eastern river bank. As the river opened up we felt the current pick up but we were able to manage it by skirting the edges of the marsh and staying out of the main channel. About a mile into the trip we spotted the mouth of the river and decided to take a break on a nice, sandy beach on river left.
The Swimming Beach (we later found out this was Wingaersheek Beach) is a fabulous place to stop and take a quick swim. The beach is sandy and encompasses a wide sand flat, which at our tide was covered by only waist-deep water and was safe from the strong current of the river. Feeling refreshed, we got back into our boats and made way toward our ultimate objective: Annisquam Lighthouse. This required that we cross the river from west to east. The stiff current near the mouth was tricky but we managed not to lose too much ground by setting an aggressive ferry angle to the river. (Note also that the boat traffic at the mouth of the river can be heavy and boat wake can create high waves which could easily capsize inexperienced paddlers in the stiff current. It may be better for inexperienced paddlers to cross the main river current much further up river and stay close to shore near the mouth to avoid the traffic, waves, and current).
We found calmer waters on the east side of the river and enjoyed an amazing pallet of colors are the sun began to duck behind the clouds. It was a quick half mile to the Annisquam River lighthouse where we rafted up in a small lagoon, snapped some pictures and took in the sunset views. Our return trip took us about a quarter of the time it had taken us to get out as the tide did most of the work. We found ourselves back at the car by dusk. What a nice way to spend a summer evening!
Launch: Long Warf Landing, Gloucester, MA
Landing: Long Warf Landing, Gloucester, MA
Highlights: Nice Swimming Beach and Annisquam Lighthouse
Duration: ~3hours with stops
Distance: ~4 miles
Kayak Dave Rating: 4 out of 5 stars