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Pawcatuck River in Rhode Island

Trip Overview

We put our canoe in just above the two foot high dam at the John Cronan boat launch on Route 91 in Richmond. The water was high so my wife and I decided to run the dam.

High Spring water conditions made the current a lot faster than usual. We encountered many winter blowdowns completely across the narrow river. No portaging was necessary, we were able to wiggle through, sometimes having to jump from one side of the river to the other right away. The snags will be cleared later in the year by the Wood-Pawcatuck River Association.

As the water level drops later in the year, you may encounter rocks; they can easily be avoided if you spot the ripples soon enough.

Burdickville Dam sits five miles downstream. It can be run just to the right of the "island". Be sure to get left as soon as you can, there are rocks and a gravel bar just past the road bridge, about a hundred yards below the dam. In low water conditions you can portage over the dam on the left.

The remaining four miles to the Bradford boat launch is relatively placid. You may encounter Canada geese, cormorants, and ospreys anywhere along the nine-plus mile stretch.

Accommodations:

Cronan - free parking for 10-12 cars, no trailers.
Bradford - free parking for 20+ cars. Boat trailers OK.

Fees:

No fees, no permits

Directions:

To the starting point - Exit 3A off Route 95 to Route 138 East. Take a right onto Route 112 toward Carolina in a couple of miles. Take another right onto Route 91 in three or four more miles. The Cronan launch is on the left, less than a mile along Route 91.

Bradford launch - on the left, four miles further along Route 91.

Resources:

None needed, but a good topographical map is helpful if you don't know the area.
  • Skill Level: Advanced
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip