Water Trails of Western Massachusetts
by Charles W. G. Smith (Appalachian Mountain Club Books)
© Charles W. G. Smith/Appalachian Mountain Club Books. All Rights Reserved.
I have 18 hours in my Kayak a Chatham 17 FG; use Werner Shuna Paddles.
Connecticut River (CTR) was high because of all the rain we’ve had. Sign 4 Barton Cove says “Boat Launch area”.
Put in Barton Cove (BC) at 5:30PM. Another reviewer suggested (Diane) starting here rather than up river at RiverView Picnic area; excellent idea. I made it 2 French King Bridge (FKB); was tired when I got there, so I headed back. Trip time 2 FKB: 1 hr 40 min arriving 7:10 PM. Stopped a couple of times 4 a few mins. Book description seen here at Trails.com accurate. Describes river as changing moods; it does. FKB is a great sight from river + is 1 of those “sights” that photographs can’t capture.
From BC I stayed river left 2 FKB. Some places had a great amount of debris in water. Branches 3” to 4” in diameter + up 2 7’; logs 3’ to 4’, 4” to 5” in diam. At this time of day, recommend good pair of sun glasses; did not bring mine. FKB back 2 BC is mostly heading west. Sun is just above tree line + can make seeing tough. Debris harder 2 see on way back. Water is same color as logs. Left FKB: 7:15 PM arrived back at BC 8:00 PM, 45 min. Hour more that it took 2 get 2 the FKB is due 2 swift current + debris. Trip back was great. Boat traffic diminished significantly making trip more enjoyable. Wake doesn’t bother me as much as noise.
A challenging trip for beginner. Current at times even close 2 shore is swift + turbulent; but also very fun. Speed boats + jet skis trip more for exercise than relaxing paddle. Boat wakes are challenging if you are not used 2 them.
Also saw a Great Egret just north of BC river left (up river) where there was a grassy reedy area. Bird was magnificent. Made trip worth it. Never seen one before. Are size of Great Blue Heron but swan white. 2 see it fly was breath taking.
Did not go further than FKB because the current was faster than I’d seen that day. Maybe next time.
I've done this section a number of times, always coming from further upriver, and is a nice paddle. Paddling through the French King Gorge is quite a site, and there is a great place to rest and view the bridge just after the millers river connects in (the beach on the left).
That being said, It can get busy with speed boat traffic during the summer holiday weekends.
This is a wonderful paddle. You must start out in Barton,s Cove and paddle upriver to the picnic area unless you want to put the miles of upriver paddling at the end.There are many species of birds to be seen along the way. The most impressive is the Bald Eagle nest just out of the cove. The first part is along many riverfront houses,but then things open up quite a bit. There was quite a bit of headwind coming back down,but people said it was very unusual for this and a front was moving in from the west. The trail description mentions a shuttle service from the cove. This is true, but it requires a reservation several days ahead and only takes you up river in the morning.
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