Monday, May 29, 2017

Great Swamp - May 28, 2017

Heading out
I’ve been paddling regularly for the past ten years, and its nice that there are still plenty of new trips for me to do.  I was able to do one yesterday – Great Swamp in the towns of West Kingstown and Richmond in Rhode Island’s South County.

Great Swamp is one of the classic Rhode Island paddling trips.  In his book Canoeing Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, Ken Weber described it as “perhaps the most intriguing canoe trip in the state” and “an excursion into jungle like retreats that cannot be reached any other way”.  It sure sounds interesting.

Through the swamp grass
Henry D. has been running the Great Swamp trip for RICKA for years, but it is always run in the spring when I have visions of whitewater dancing in my head. This year, I decided it was time, and that was definitely the right decision.  The trip doesn’t have any rapids, but it has everything else – beautiful scenery, lots of challenging twists and turns to maneuver through, and an open water crossing on a wind-blown lake.

We met at Taylor’s Landing (3348 Kingstown Road, West Kingston) for the shuttle down to Biscuit City Landing (15 Biscuit City Road,Richmond).  We had 11 paddlers in 10 boats  - 3 canoes and 7 kayaks.  The river was at a nice level – 6’. 75 cfs on the West Kingstown gage.

Crossing Worden Pond
We put-in on the Chipuxet River at Taylor’s Landing, and headed south through the Great Swamp Management Area.  At times, shrubs and swamp grass almost overgrew the river.  Fortunately, with the higher water levels, we were able to paddle through without too much difficulty.  The higher water also allowed us to float over the frequent beaver dams along the way.

As we approached Worden Pond, we could see a strong wind from the south kicking up small whitecaps on this large, shallow lake. We hung to the north shore as we headed out into the waves.  After passing Stony Point, we headed for the site of an old seaplane hanger on the northwest corner of the lake, which is an easy place to stop for lunch.  We then headed south past Case Point to resume our trip down the river. 

Great Swamp Impound
From here, there are some differences of opinion on the name of this section of river. Many guidebooks refer to Worden Pond as the source of the Pawcatuck River. In other guides, this is a continuation of the Chipuxet River, which becomes the Charles River when it merges with the Usquepaug (Queens) River just above Biscuit City. The Charles River eventually merges with the Wood River above Burdickville to form the Pawcatuck River.  

Whatever it is called, the river itself is beautiful.  It twists and turns through a pretty hardwood swamp covered with vines – especially poison ivy, which grows so lush that I saw leaves as big as my hand drooping down from many trees. We stopped for a look at the huge impound of the Great Swamp Management Area, and watched as an Osprey brought a fish back to its nest high atop the power lines. 

Approaching Biscuit City Landing
Shortly after the convergence of the Chipuxet and Usqupaug Rivers to form the Charles, we turned right up the small channel that leads to the Biscuit City Landing.  It was a 7-mile trip that took us about 4 hours to run.  I definitely made the right decision on this one. 

That's me enjoying a great day on the river
My Pictures

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