Private Paddles

Get off the beaten pond with these aquatic adventures.

If the salty surf intimidates you, or you’re simply looking for more tranquil places to kayak or canoe, we have some spots for you. Rhode Islander Chuck Horbert, who paddled across the entire state with a group last summer (including portages), shared some of his favorite spots to stray from waterway traffic. “Paddling is healthy, physically and mentally…and Rhode Island has some great resources,” Horbert says.

Misquamicut Beach
You’ve been to Misquamicut for the sand and waves, but have you ever seen the calm waters a little further inland? Directly across the street from the beach in Westerly, park and launch your vessel. The water in these salty ponds is clear, and you can see horseshoe crabs crawling along the bottom. Pay attention to tides, as areas of this waterway can get very low. Calm water and minimal congestion make for easy paddling and a relaxing day.

Green Hill Pond
If you’re a beginner looking to explore, put in at Charlestown Beach and head up the channel, under the Creek Bridge. There are plenty of coves to tuck into, islands to explore and passages to take. You can turn around whenever you’d like, or float along for the full six miles around the perimeter of the pond and its coves. Horbert recommends this route for beginners and anyone looking for a quiet refuge.

Pawtuxet River
When you think of Warwick and Cranston, you might not imagine pristine waters and tree-lined riverbanks. For Horbert, it’s the first place that comes to mind when he thinks of underrated spots. “It was one of the most amazing rivers I’ve been on,” he says. If you put in at the Pontiac Canoe Launch in Warwick and head up river, you’ll find a hidden part of Rhode Island. Coast right under 95, but you’d never know it was there aside from minimal noise. Horbert paddled this stretch on his cross-state journey and witnessed varying habitats, even spotting a bald eagle.

Ten Mile River
If you launch in East Providence, you’ll find a great section of this river that is suitable for most experience levels. It’s slow moving and mostly calm, but there are many narrow twists and turns. See snapping turtles, deer and maybe a few orphan golf balls that have drifted down from Agawam Hunt Golf Course. There are plenty of places along the way to pull over and explore.

Bungay River
As part of the ten-mile watershed, this little river is a great place to see some wildlife on calm waters. You can start in Attleboro, Massachusetts. “That’s the best way to access the bog kind of habitat,” Horbert says. See all sorts of birds and turtles as you steer away from the sounds of the city. The farther down the river you go, the more technical it gets with turns and lower waters.

Thirsty for more?
If you want maps, safety information or have other questions, be sure to visit Explore Rhode Island’s Blueways and Greenways at

Not ready to brave the waters alone?
Sometimes it’s easier to gain experience with a little instruction from the pros. Get started in paddle sports at the Kayak Centre of Rhode Island. Attend the demo weekend to see a variety of boats, take a tour, rent a kayak or get more in-depth instruction.
9 Phillips St., Wickford, 295-4400,