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Pawcatuck River in Rhode Island

Trip Overview

We launched at the last public put in at the Alton Dam. State parking. Short carry across the highway that tops the dam. The river is shallow and quick moving for the 3/4 mile to the end as it joins the Pawcatuck. No obstructions across this section.

The Pawcatuck above this point has many trees clear across the entire river. The broken Burdickville Dam is best run to the right of the center, 'treed island'. Large log at the right edge of slot. Or portage on left bank. Fairly low water level that day but two days later we had rains with flash flood warnings which will keep the flow up for a while.

Portage the next two dams on river right. Heavy shade through forested section, no bugs, lots of wildlife, and only the occasional house, mill town or bridge.

White Rock Dam which is next has a stone-walled millrace which is fast, class 2 or above depending on water flow. It turns Sharply right after 400 yards, and the river is broad and shallow for a bit. Alternate: Portage on river right.

The last dam before tidal water was washed out in a flood 3 years back. Scout best route from left shore landing. I usually run left of center down old mill race. Tidal flow till take out at State landing on left 1/4 mile past US Rt 1 bridge.

Trip: 21 Miles - 6 hours paddling


No accommodations used. Westerly has numerous eating, lodging and gas locations.




Put in at Alton, RI Rt 91, State Access and free parking.

Take out in Westerly, Main St, State Access and parking.


Wood-Pawcautuck River Guide.

Good info, but has not been updated to reflect washout of Stillmanville Dam, which was the last mentioned, or removal of the lower of 3 dams in Shannock, which was further up the Pawcatuck than we traveled.

  • Duration: Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip