Peggotty Loop (A circle from Peggotty Beach through Scituate Harbor and back again)


Details: Launch your craft from Peggotty Beach. If you park in the Peggotty Beach parking lot, you have two options: you can begin your paddle adventure either from the beach or from the marshland that runs right up to the back of the parking lot. From the marshlands, you can follow a small stream that will take you under the bridge and into Scituate Harbor. If you are from out of town, there are a few designated parking spots in the Peggotty Beach parking lot along the right side as you enter, that do not require a Scituate Beach sticker. You can always go to the Town Hall located on 3A near Scituate High School to ask about parking or temporary beach permits.


Length of Route (detailed map): About 1 hour and 30 minutes (non-stop); 2.83 miles (4.55 km)

Difficulty: Easy/Medium- The greatest factors in this route’s difficulty level are the wind and wave conditions. Kayaking through the marshlands and the Harbor are relatively easy as they are very protected. However, exiting the Harbor into the ocean can introduce new conditions such as large swells or greater gusts of wind that can make kayaking more difficult. If you’re unsure of your ability to paddle the open ocean, start on the marshland side and paddle through the harbor. You can always turn around at Lighthouse point, just before the open ocean, and dock your craft in the harbor and take your drippy selves into TK’s or Mill Wharf for refreshment before heading back to your car. Note! Avoid the marshland launch and/or return at low tide. You’ll be mucking it, see below:


Hazards: Boat Traffic and Natural Elements


• Boat traffic- Besides the quiet and enclosed marshlands behind Peggotty Beach, this route is very active with commercial boats, power boats, and sailboats.


Scituate Harbor is a center for commercial fishing, so beware of not only the small, local fishing and lobster boats but also larger, open-ocean fishing boats entering and exiting the Harbor. The channel that leads in and out of the Harbor to the ocean is marked with green cans and red “nuns”, but the safest option is

to remain to the outside of the channel to avoid as much boat traffic as possible.


If you need to paddle in the channel, follow the rules of navigation that power boats follow and stay between the cans and “nuns” with the red “nuns” on your right when you return to the Harbor. Depending on the day and the weather, the activity outside the Harbor varies. On busy days, keeping close to shore and the cliffs will help you avoid any commercial boats or fast-moving power boats.


• Tides, Wind, Waves, and Cliffs- The most important factor to take into consideration before embarking on this route would be the tide. The small river that runs through the marshland behind Peggotty Beach is only accessible, at mid-tide (about three hours from low or high tide). The tide needs to be high enough so that you are able to float right from the river to the marshland (or vice versa) in order to access the back of Peggotty’s parking lot. Any tide lower than mid-tide will not provide enough water for you and your craft to access the river that flows into the Harbor. You will most likely get stuck in the shallow puddles or the mud. Wind and waves won’t have a great effect on your trip except for the part in the open ocean. The Harbor and marshlands are well protected from these conditions, but once outside the Harbor there will be higher and/or more frequent wind gusts that could also impact the size of the swells. The cliffs making up Scituate’s coastline can become an issue when there are strong winds coming from the sea. Strong, ocean winds and an incoming tide could push you and your craft dangerously close to the cliffs. However, with the right timing, understanding of the weather, and skill, there is plenty of open ocean to paddle in order to avoid the cliffs and rocky shore.


Attractions: This route includes not only a public beach to relax on but also many restaurants and shops accessible from a couple public docks located in the Harbor. Every summer, T.K. O’Malley’s, a family-friendly sports bar, opens up a dock that leads right up to their back patio overlooking Scituate Harbor and Scituate Light. Also near T.K.’s is the Quarter Deck, a small store selling various things from musical toys to beautiful handcrafted jewelry to antique decorations. Down the street from T.K.’s are CVS, Nona’s Ice Cream, Scituate Bank, Dunkin Donuts, Maria’s Pizzeria, and more small clothing and accessory stores.


History: Since Scituate’s first colonial settlement around 1627, Scituate Harbor has been an important part to Scituate’s history. Geographically, Scituate is the point in Massachusetts between Cape Cod and Cape Ann that reaches the farthest east. Due to this position, the Harbor has always been not only a prime location for ships traveling north to Boston Harbor to dock, but also a dangerous area for ships to navigate. Until about 1850, there were three independent ship-building yards in Scituate Harbor alone. In 1787, the Humane Society of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts chose Scituate and two other towns as locations to build Massachusetts’ first houses of refuge for lost mariners. In 1811, the first light was lit at Scituate Light, the lighthouse located on Cedar Point just at the edge of the Harbor. After the completion of the second Minot Light in 1860, Scituate Light remained dark for 134 years. In 1994, Scituate Light was purchased by a resident of Scituate and relit as an aid to navigation.  Coincidently or not, during the years that Scituate Light was not lit, there were many shipwrecks off of Sandhills and Cedar Point (the strip of land where Scituate Light is located). On February 4, 1926, the schooner “Kenwood” was driven ashore at Cedar Point during a massive blizzard. All of the “Kenwood’s” crew was saved by the Coast Guard, and the lumber salvaged from the ship’s cargo. The ship itself was used in the building of many cottages in Scituate for many years. On March 16 1956, another blizzard drove the 441-foot “Etrusco” ashore onto Cedar Point. The blizzard was so strong that the ship’s crew could not be rescued until the following day. The “Estrusco” was stranded on the beach until November of that year when new owners pulled her from the shore, repaired the damage, and renamed the ship “Scituate”.  Before you exit the Harbor, look for a small white building with a red roof located on a long pier on your right. This building was the boathouse of the first Coast Guard Station in Scituate, completed in 1938 and located on First Cliff. However, a fire destroyed the station in 1984 and the Coast Guard determined the building location as unsafe place to rebuild. Now, the Coast Guard Station is located in the heart of Scituate Harbor near the gazebo on Cole Parkway. The old Coast Guard boathouse remains on the pier and is now a part of the Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary. In season, you’ll see the research vessel, “Auk”, moored there.


And a quick fun fact about Peggotty Beach: Peggotty received its name from George Lunt’s (a well known Boston lawyer, author, and editor of the 19th century niece who named the beach after the nurse in Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield.  


Sources include “Images of America: Scituate” (Scituate Historical Society), Historical Documents kept at Scituate Town Library, and “New England Lighthouses: A Virtual Guide” (www.lighthouse.cc/minot/history.html)

The Scituate Historic Trails project formed from a partnership between Scituate Historical Society, People for Active Transportation & Health (PATH), and Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary to create and promote walking paths and bike routes connecting historical sites, beaches, downtown businesses and other fun places to relax, learn, eat and enjoy Scituate, a charming New England seaside town founded in 1636. Scituate is a coastal town located 25 miles south of Boston with nearly 17 square miles of history and centuries old character to be enjoyed on foot, on a bicycle or from a boat! From out of town? Hop on the Greenbush Train from South Station with your bike and enjoy a healthy, historical adventure to Scituate Massachusetts.

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