This is a five mile run. Four miles or so are on the river and the last mile is on West Thompson Lake.
The river has just enough moving water to be interesting. It is either riffles over cobblestone or else deep and slow with an occasional rock. There is perhaps one class I rapid. You will encounter a number of islands which will require that you decide which way to go. One side will be better than the other, but it is not always obvious. This is part of the fun. There were some blow-downs, but none that obstructed the whole river.
The water level was just adequate, but no more, on the day we ran it. We grounded out and had to get out of the canoe a couple of times. The gauge at Putnam was showing 3.5' and a flow of 450 cfs. These readings are not directly related to this section of the river (they are downstream), but will provide an idea of the flow. The gauge readings are available from NOAA at:
On the index map, click on the Boston area and then pick out Putnam from the next map.
The river runs through woods and fields. You pass under two road bridges and a pedestrian bridge, but otherwise there is no sign of civilization. When you pass under the red pedestrian bridge you are almost at the lake.
The lake portion can be challenging with a headwind. The takeout is on the left near the far end of the lake.
This is one of the nicer runs in this area. I will do again.
There is a port-a-potti at the take-out.
Putnam has most of what you might want for facilities after the run.
Take I-395 to exit 97. Go west on route 44 then turn right on route 12 north. At the light turn left on West Thompson Road, then right on Reardon Road. Following the signs to the campground, turn left to the boat launch and you are at the takeout.
To get to the put-in, return to West Thompson Road and turn right. Cross over the dam and turn right again on again on Ravenelle road. This will become Fabyan Road after a while. Follow it to the only stop sign, turn right, cross the river and turn right into parking at the Fabyan launch area.
Connecticut and Rhode Island Gazeteer.
- Trip Duration: Day Trip
- Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
- Skill Level: Intermediate
- Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)