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Shannock Falls

41° 26.87' N    71° 38.617' W   See this location in: Google Maps   Map Server   Acme Maps

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This is a site for launching hand-carried boats and it is also a portage. This typically means that to continue paddling down the river past this site you will have to portage your boat around a dam or other obstruction.

Description & Overview:

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The dam that backed up the river at Shannock Falls for over 100 years was removed in the fall of 2010. The former dam site is now the site of some challenging class III rapids with several large boulders in mid-channel. EXPERTS ONLY with the proper gear and safety systems in place!! You can portage around these rapids by taking out above the rapids and carrying your boat about 100 yards down the lightly used Railroad Avenue, which parallels the river on river right (the right side of the river when going downstream). This is only relevant if you have paddled downriver to Shannock Falls because the usual put-in for paddling downriver from here is below the falls.

The put-in below the falls is a good access point to the Pawcatuck River below the closely spaced dams in Kenyon and Shannock. The section of the Pawcatuck River below here feels relatively wild, with only occasional houses visible from the river and heavily forested riverbanks. The river is mostly quiet and relatively slow-moving, but there are intervals of quickwater. Below the route 112 bridge (2.2 miles downstream) there is about 200 yards of class II whitewater that cannot be portaged (but you can take out at the Route 112 bridge above the whitewater). On this section of the river you will encounter downed trees across the river. Many will have a gap cut in them wide enough to let a canoe or kayak squeeze through. However there may be some recent blowdowns that require you to get out of your boat and lift it over or carry it around the tree. If you come across downed trees that are blocking canoe and kayak passage on the Wood or Pawcatuck Rivers you are encouraged to report them to denisep@wpwa.org . The Wood-Pawcatuck River Guide is highly recommended for paddling on the Wood-Pawcatuck river system.

This site provides access to the following water bodies in the Pawcatuck River watershed: Pawcatuck River.

Location:

Alternate Site Name: Lower Shannock Dam

Town: Richmond

Driving Landmarks: This site is on Railroad St., which is a short street off of Shannock Village Road, also called Old Shannock Road or simply Shannock Road at various points. Shannock Village Road runs between Carolina Back Road (Route 112) and South Country Trail (Route 2) a bit north of where Route 112 and Route 2 join.

Access & Waters:

Water 'Features' At Site: dam, waterfall, flatwater/slow moving river

Note: Because one boat launch can access, say, both a lake and a river or both the upstream and downstream portions of a river, not all paddling trips at a given site will necessarily encounter all of the features listed.

Type of Access: Boat launch for hand carried boats

ADA Accessible Boat Launch? no

Shoreline: The pond below the falls is right next to the road and the shoreline is low and generally soft so access is easy except for some rocks that you have to step over and lift boats over to get from the road to the shore.

Float/Dock: no

Approximate Length of Carry between Car Access and Water: 25 feet

Parking:

Parking: on street

ADA Accessible Parking Spaces? no

Sources for More Information:

AMC River Guide: 4th Edition, page 141

Other Guidebooks: Paddle 26 in "Paddling Connecticut and Rhode Island"

Website: How to order the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association's River Guide

Ecological, Cultural & Recreational Attractions:

Shannock Falls was the site of a battle between the Pequot Indians and the Narragansett Indians over fishing rights. There is a small stone monument near the put-in.

Shannock Falls is Class III

Submitted by: Action Paddling; February 26, 2017; 10:48 am

NOTE:: Shannock Falls at Railroad Ave is a solid Class III rapid at levels above 2.0 feet on the Wood River JCT USGS Gauge. At lower levels its a solid II + with shallow exposed rocks that make for a tough swim, the good news is its one of the few paddle sport kayak play areas in RI, with the loss of White Rock Play area ..the Shannock Falls area is a fine section of surfing waves, strong eddy lines and world class play holes at the Shannock Falls (AKA Johnson Falls by Whitewater boaters) offers three outstanding holes that will keep you challenged, the top hole is fun but shallow, second hole is fun big water ride that gets thrashy at high levels, very fun at 2.0 below, and the third hole is a world class surfing experience at med /high water. This section of river is a great whitewater training area. NOTE: Horseshoe Falls is runnable for fully equipped experienced whitewater paddlers, but as with any man made falls, it poses risk, there are hidden rocks and occasional wood at base of falls.. the back feed hydraulic is very strong here, please have safety set before running. This section of river is full of broken glass, so tubing or swimming not recommended.

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The data on this website come from many sources, including volunteers and organizations across the state of Rhode Island and nearby parts of Massachusetts. We have done our best to make sure the data are accurate and up to date, but any information critical to the success of your trip should be confirmed before you start. The maps and information on this website should not be substituted for nautical charts, topographic maps, or other more detailed maps and guides. We welcome corrections and additions. To send a correction or provide other feedback, please use our feedback form (see link above).

This site report was last updated on February 26, 2017

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