Paskamansett & Slocum Rivers - Kayak Trip / Canoe Trip
Dartmouth/New Bedford, MA
The Paskamansett River in Dartmouth, MA is a hidden gem that not many take advantage of, however it can be a great paddle of varying length depending on the put in. I will split the river into thirds because of the put in take out options (these thirds are not actually thirds lengthwise, the first and second third are actually much longer). The second third is also not the Paskamansett(freshwater) but has turned into the Slocums River(Brackish)estuary leading to Buzzards Bay (Saltwater).
There is an amazing variety of wildlife that can be seen on this river(s). Some of the animals seen include Muskrat(maybe river otter?), Deer, Great Blue Heron, Red-winged Blackbirds, Osprey , Red-Tailed Hawks, Owls(large bodied dark brown pretty reclusive more readily seen in late fall/winter/early spring), Turtles, Frogs, Blue-Winged Warblers, Yellow Warblers, multiple types of swallows, Snowy White Egrets, Striped Bass, Bluefish and more!
The first third (only passable in higher waters) is pretty lazy, although there may be slight bushwhacking to get through a few spots in the first quarter mile. If you want a nice day trip it may be best to skip this first third, the second two thirds is a nice amount of paddling and much more easily passed. After the troubles of vines are gone the river continues peacefully through the woods. The only portages being a couple of trees down that usually impede passing. The third portage is a beautiful old stone bridge that I have been told was part the old Providence/New Bedford Rd. also the old Tucker Rd.
A while after this you will come to a couple of old pieces of steel and some sort of bridge from the past. Parts of the first third will open up into some nice freshwater marshes that are often good for seeing birds and other wildlife as well as a hunter now and again. As you paddle farther you will start to hear the sounds of traffic. You know you are nearing the end of the first third of the river - estimated time for this section 3-6hrs. Sometimes in very high waters the river can spill its banks into the swamps and marshes so that it is very difficult to follow river, I've had friends get lost for a while searching for where the river was really going. I've toyed with the idea of flagging the path of the river, however it is an ambitious idea for my least favorite part of the river.
The second third of the river is my favorite (it is almost impassable once the water gauge on website below reaches 8.5, though it has been done). Most of the wildlife mentioned above has been seen in the stretch from here to the Mill pond at the end of this section. When putting in at this point you are left with a couple of options. You can paddle upstream for a while and end up in the best freshwater marsh of the first third with only about twenty minutes of paddling, I would suggest it because I have seen lots of great sights in this marsh however sometimes it is a lot of work for nothing.
If you choose to paddle only downstream you've got a lazy paddle ahead of you with lots of time to admire beautiful plants and animals(watch out for poison ivy in a couple of spots it is right right on the river bank, growing in tree form in a couple of spots!) after probably about a quarter mile of paddling you will see the first spot to hop out and explore through the woods a little (the river will have a sharp turn to the right just in front of you will be a steep slope with pine trees on it). Get out here and you can climb the hill and choose a path to check out you can also picnic on the ledge just to the right at the top of the hill. You are only about a quarter mile from houses and sometimes teenage kids are hanging out around here). If you paddle about an eighth of a mile longer at the end of the next long straight away a tree grows out of the water on the left, just before this tree is a nice opening on the bank to get out and picnic.
If the water on online gauge (or at put in spot) says 12ft or above you can paddle onto next long straightaway, halfway down on left is spot to paddle under a couple of branches into a swamp that has clear views to the ledge and a couple of different ways of snaking up to ledge. If you decide to get out here and deal with a little bit of tromping through the woods. If you can find and follow the path that would bring you in the downriver direction it will lead you right to a beautiful ledge that probably rises fifty feet above the land while remaining remarkably easy to climb from the side away from the river. It is a great spot to stop picnic, enjoy a beer or a smoke.
Continuing down river you enjoy beautiful sights and sounds except for a gravel pit that operates sometimes during the week and even then the noise generally isn't very too noticeable until you are right on it, though you never see it. Soon you will start to hear the quickwater. It is a pretty easily run set of rapids as long as river is 9.5 and above. Any shallower and expect to hit a lot of rocks or portaging some. If you enter the quickwater and take a quick right you will be able to enter a hidden mill pond (if you take this option you may want to get out of boat and scout where you are going first) that allows you to miss the roughest of the quickwater, then put back in just below the dam. The river has one more small section of stronq quickwater below the dam of hidden mill pond. Once in large mill pond you will see the car you left or two waterfalls, stay well to the right of the waterfalls and there is a small gate that will allow you out. Cross the street and you are ready to begin
The third section which is the Slocum River a tidal river that leads to the ocean. This is a great paddle as well. Unlike the other two sections of river you can now find wide open expanses and great salt marshes. You can leave your car at the small landing and return there to finish your paddle though you may have to deal with adverse currents this way. Or you can leave a car at the end of Gafney Rd. pay attention to tide and ride an outgoing tide. If you leave your car at Gafney Rd you will know you are close to it when two small islands appear in river in a large opening and a farm on the west bank of the river. Gafney Rd. is tucked around the bend on the left.
If you continue on the Slocumb River past Gafney Rd and head out towards the ocean, you can make it to Demerest Lloyd State Park Beach which should have bathrooms and fresh water during operating hours. Though I don't believe you are allowed to paddle right to beach you can pull out on small beach well away from guard stands and walk over to beach without any problems, or at least I've had none in the past.
Within a mile east and west of the put in for the first third of the river are tons of accommodations. From "Not Your Average Joe's" restaurant(great food and average/high prices) to "Mirasol's Cafe" (best coffee around sandwiches and specials with South American flair/good prices) to DnD, McDonalds, BK , Wendy's and the like. There are also many hotels in the area, to go with lots of other great spots around southeastern MA. East and West Branch of Westport River, Padanaram Harbor, Little River, Shingle Island River to Noquochoke.
The only other accommodations are between the second and third third. Davol's General Store, definitely worth stopping! I believe it has been operating since early 1800s. Great old building and store with nice folks. The only other accommodation is a self-composting toilet at the town landing, it is the little building between the tennis court and jungle gym.
None that I am aware of
Put in and take out options
Take the "Mall Road" exit into Dartmouth which will have you heading south on Faunce Corner Rd. towards RTE 6 at intersection of RTE 6 and Faunce Corner either
-Take a left and head east on RTE 6, make a U-Turn at first set of lights and park in Small Park near intersection of on MA RTE 6 across from Mr. Tux, just west of New York Bagel (This can be a precarious put in but as far as I know it is completely legal, the other option may involve trespassing but the store there went out of business and don't think anyone minds. Also if you take this option BEWARE there is a wall that drops down from RTE 6 halfway through the underpass, it sneaks up on you.)
-If you are using the second option you want to continue through the intersection of RTE 6 and Faunce Corner, about an eighth of a mile up you will see the old Dartmouth Cycles on your left. This is the other put in option, the river runs right down the back field of the shop.
-The put in for the second third and take out if only doing the first third is continuing straight through intersection of RTE 6 and Faunce Corner Rd. Keep going straight, bear left where the signs for UMASS Dartmouth say to go right. You are now on Chase Rd. Continue on Chase until it ends. Take left onto Russell's Mills Rd. continue on this until you come to a small stone bridge just after Quaker Meeting House. The put in is down the slope on right. To find out car drop off follow directions to put in of third section except you want to take a left just before Davol's and park in dirt lot next to waterfalls.
-The put in for the third section is if at the end of Chase Rd. you take a right onto Russell's Mills Rd and continue until you get to Davol's General Store, bear just to the right of the store and go about a quarter mile to landing with tennis courts, swings etc. Leave car here paddle out and return or leave this parking lot take a right and then your first right. This will take you by the waterfalls(they should be on your left) follow this Rd until you have the option to take a right onto Gafney Rd. follow all the way to end where landing and spot to leave car is.
Real Time Water Data for Paskamansett
Google Maps - This link should put you somewhere in the middle of the second third of the river as far as the maps are concerned:
Great Products from the Buyers' Guide: