Monday, June 24, 2024

Pawcatuck River – Bradford to Potter Hill - Third Swim of the Year – June 23, 2024

Bradford Fish Weirs
It rained as I drove down, but we ended up with a nice day for our trip on the Pawcatuck River. The last time that we did this trip was in 2020 during COVID, and back then we did a bike shuttle. No need for that this year.

The Pawcatuck River arises at Worden Pond in South Kingstown and flows southwest for 34-miles to Westerly where it flows into Little Narragansett Bay on Long Island Sound. Along with the Beaver, Queen - Usquepaug, Wood, Chipuxet, Shunock and Green Fall - Ashaway, the Pawcatuck received Wild and Scenic River status in 2019. We would be paddling the section from Bradford to Potter Hill – about 8-miles.

Polly Coon Footbridge
I met Bill, Paul, Bob, Aaron and Mike at the put-in at the Bradford Landing. We dropped off our boats and headed down to the take-out at Potter Hill. Parking is available at Post Office Landing – a DEM boat launch across the street from the take-out that is down a dirt road that looks like someone’s driveway. At least they have put a sign up now.

With all the rain over the past few days the river was at a nice level – 3-feet, 200 cfs on the Wood River Junction gage. We put in and headed down to run the Bradford Fish Weirs – a series of six gradually ascending stone steps that replaced the old Bradford Dam. Paul went first and ran the fish weirs clean. Bill and I went next. We hit a rock in the 4th weir, and over we went – 3rd swim of the year for me. Bob ran it last and made it through fine.

Marshland above the Potter Hill Dam
After the Fish Weirs, the river twists and turns through conservation land owned by the Westerly Land Trust and Hopkinton Land Trust. We passed under the Polly Coon Footbridge and continued downstream to the beach off Narragansett Way where we stopped for lunch. Below Route 3 there is more development as the river meanders through marshland formed by the deadwater of the Potter Hill Dam.

The take out is on the Westerly side of the river just above the Potter Hill Road Bridge at the Whiteley Preserve - a Westerly Land Trust property. We loaded up our boats and I drove Bill and Paul back to Bradford to pick up their cars. I forgot to bring my camera, but Mike got some great pictures and video.

Bradford Fish Weirs from Erik Eckilson on Vimeo.

Mike’s Pictures and Video on Flickr
Mikes Pictures and Video on Facebook
Wood River Junction Gage

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