Four Rhode Island Rivers and Lakes Perfect for Kayaking and Paddleboarding
Rhode Island has many exciting options for kayakers and paddleboarders.
Whether you’re a newcomer looking for a leisurely loop, or an experienced paddler tackling miles-long sections of waterways, Rhode Island has many exciting options for kayakers and paddleboarders who want to spend a day on the water without fighting over beach parking.
Described as the largest salt pond in southern Rhode Island, Ninigret features calm water for beginners as well as kayak or canoe fishing. It’s located in the 800-plus-acre Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge —
a wetland and forest habitat that’s home to waterfowl and migrating birds including
great blue herons and osprey. The refuge also features hiking paths and an eighteen-hole disc golf course.
Departure: Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge, Charlestown.
Rental: The Kayak Centre, 562 Charlestown Beach Rd., Charlestown (seasonal location), 295-4400, kayakcentre.com.
The Pettaquamscutt Watershed, commonly known as the Narrow River, is a popular kayaking destination. The six-mile river is a leisurely paddle for all experience levels with wide sections that offer ample space to avoid boat traffic. The river begins at a freshwater pond and two fjord-like lakes leading to a coastal lagoon and estuary before emptying through the “Narrows” into the Atlantic Ocean. Paddlers can go through the estuary to Narragansett Town Beach at the mouth of the river or explore the John H. Chafee National Wildlife Refuge at Pettaquamscutt Cove.
Departures: 49 Pollock Rd., South Kingstown (parking for up to twenty cars in a dirt lot); Sprague Bridge off Boston Neck Road, Narragansett (parking for up to eight cars in a dirt lot).
Rental: Narrow River Kayaks, 94 Middlebridge Rd., Narragansett, 789-0334, narrowriverkayaks.com.
For paddlers looking for a less traditional route, the Woonasquatucket River travels through Providence’s historic canals. The river, lined with WaterFire baskets as it approaches Waterplace Park, showcases a unique perspective on the city’s design. Despite its urban endpoint, the waterway features salt marshes and freshwater wetlands that protect many species of wildlife.
Departure: Donigian Park, off Valley Street, is one of the best places to put in for river access.
Rental: Providence Kayak, 15 Bridge St., Providence, 829-1769, providencekayak.com.
Hundred Acre Cove and Barrington River
Hidden just a few miles from the capital city, tucked between East Providence and the Massachusetts state line, is the Hundred Acre Cove. Putting in at the Walker Farm Boat Ramp, kayakers can paddle south along the Barrington River, which flows into the Warren River and then into Narragansett Bay. Choosing to go north and east, paddlers will enter Hundred Acre Cove — a tidal estuary that’s home to a variety of fish and bird species. If you’re a beginner, you’ll want to stay close to the shoreline since there can be strong currents in this area.
Departure: Walker Farm, Barrington.
Rental: Walker Farm Kayak Rentals, 509 County Rd., Barrington, 369-4832, walkerfarmkayaks.com.
Lincoln Woods State Park
The 128-acre Olney Pond has long been a haven for water sports of all types, from swimming and fishing to canoeing and kayaking. Though only a ten-minute drive from Providence, the pond offers a tree-lined escape for paddlers of all skill levels. Take advantage of the onsite kayak rentals or put your own craft in at the boat ramp, where recent improvements include a new, handicap-accessible launching dock.
Departure: Lincoln Woods State Park, Lincoln.
Rental: Providence Kayak, Lincoln, 829-1769, providencekayak.com.
Safety tip: While boat ramps can normally be used to launch canoes and kayaks, paddlers should try to keep ramps clear for boat trailers.