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Big River at Big River Rd.

41° 38.943' N    71° 36.851' W   See this location in: Google Maps   Map Server   Acme Maps

Google Maps is the mapping system used on the new ExploreRI mapper and shows the access site located on a terrain view, a street map or an aerial photograph. Clicking on this link will take you to the full Google Maps website, which is not part of ExploreRI.
Map Server shows a topographic map of the area. The Map Server website is not part of
Acme Maps shows the access site located on a topographic map. The Acme Maps website is not part of

This is a site for launching hand-carried boats such as canoes or kayaks.

Description & Overview:

NOTE: The road to this site has been closed by RI DEM, apparently permanently, due to problems with illegal dumping. The put-in next to Route 3 is a good alternative.

This site provides access to Big River for hand-carried boats, just downstream from where Big River goes under Interstate 95. Big River flows very slowly so it is possible to paddle against it, making round-trips a viable option. Heading downstream from Big River Road takes you into Reynolds Pond, which in turn leads to Johnson Pond, which is part of Flat River Reservoir. Reynolds Pond is a beautiful winding pond with a mix of white pines and cedar swamps along the shore. The pond is mostly within Big River Management Area is largely undeveloped. You are likely to see some fisherman, but the water is shallow so fast motorboats generally avoid this area. At the far end of Reynolds Pond there is a low bridge over the channel that leads into Johnson Pond. There is a boat ramp on the other side of this bridge at the DEM Zeke's Bridge Fishing Access site. The bridge is low enough to block larger boats but canoes and kayaks can fit under easily at normal water levels.

Heading upstream from Big River Road, you immediately have to go under I-95. The three tunnels the river runs through are about 300 feet long but they are big and straight. Once through these tunnels it is a quarter mile to Route 3, where there is also an access site. Beyond Route 3 you are heading into the heart of the 8600 acre Big River Management Area. Be prepared for lots of twisting and turning because the river follows a very meandering course. At times the main channel can be hard to follow because of the many dead end side channels that branch off. If in doubt at a fork, look for which channel has more current. These challenges, combined with the fact that you are paddling upstream and likely to encounter beaver dams, makes this a much more energetic paddle than Reynolds Pond. The reward is getting to explore a beautiful natural area, but inexperienced paddlers may get frustrated before they get very far. Much of the area is low and marshy but the river occasionally swings close to higher ground, providing some possible picnic sites. If the water level is good and the channel not too overwhelmed by vegetation you can go about 2 3/4 miles beyond Route 3 to where Nooseneck River comes in from the west. Shortly beyond here both Nooseneck River and Big River get too narrow to be paddleable.

This site provides access to the following water bodies in the Pawtuxet River watershed: Big River, Reynolds Pond.


Town: West Greenwich

Driving Landmarks: Take exit 6 off I-95 in West Greenwich. If you are coming from the north (Warwick), turn left at the end of the ramp; if you coming from the south (Westerly), turn right. This will put you on Route 3 (Nooseneck Hill Road) heading south. Go 1.3 miles and then turn right under the highway onto Weaver Hill Road. Go 1/4 mile and turn right onto Big River Road. This road is 3/4 mile long and mostly dirt. It's somewhat rough but it is drivable by regular cars under normal conditions. When you come to a fork, stay right. The river and parking area are just ahead.

Access & Waters:

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

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: There are a couple of possible launching spots adjacent to the parking lot. Both are a bit rocky but quite functional. The rocks are there to prevent erosion.

Float/Dock: no

Approximate Length of Carry between Car Access and Water: 20 feet

Hours of Operation: Closed from 1/2 hr. after sunset to 5 am, except for fishing and boating


Parking: yes: 10 spaces

ADA Accessible Parking Spaces? no

Sources for More Information:

AMC River Guide: 4th Edition, page 146

AMC Quiet Water Canoe Guide: 2nd Edition, page 190


The Parking Area at the end of Big River Road

The Parking Area at the end of Big River Road

Photography by: Bruce G. Hooke

Date of Photograph: April 20, 2008

This is the parking area next to the Big River at the end of Big River Road.

One of the Launch Sites at Big River Road

One of the Launch Sites at Big River Road

Photography by: Bruce G. Hooke

Date of Photograph: April 20, 2008

This is one of the place so to launch from at the Big River Road access site.

View Down Big River Towards Reynolds Pond

View Down Big River Towards Reynolds Pond

Photography by: Bruce G. Hooke

Date of Photograph: April 20, 2008

This is a view down the Big River towards Reynolds Pond from the access site at Big River Road.

Tunnels Under I-95

Tunnels Under I-95

Photography by: Bruce G. Hooke

Date of Photograph: April 20, 2008

This is a view of the tunnels under I-95. The tunnels are bigger than the look to be in this photograph. Each tunnel is around 18 feet high and 12 feet wide.


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This site report was last updated on August 30, 2010

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