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Gilbert Stuart

41° 31.19' N    71° 26.65' 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:

PLEASE NOTE: The parking lot at this site is privately owned by the Gilbert Stuart Museum and is for the daily visitors to the museum. Non-museum visitors, including canoeists and kayakers who wish to park in the museum lot, must first obtain permission from the museum office. This effectively means parking here is only available when the museum is open because at other times the lot is chained off. Please respect the rules so that paddlers can continue to park here. Visit the Gilbert Stuart Museum website for more information about the museum and its current hours.

This is the northernmost access site on the Pettaquamscutt River, locally known almost universally as the Narrow River despite the fact that it is wide and lake-like in many areas. At the northern end of the river there is no real current, so you can easily paddle round-trip up and down the river or just go one way to one of the other access points on the river. However, as you get closer to the mouth the tidal currents become strong so the tides need to be part of your planning.

The wide parts of the Narrow River and open enough for wind and waves to be a potentially serious issue for paddlers. Watch the forecast and watch the weather once you are on the water.

There is no boat ramp at this site but the shoreline is good for launching hand-carried boats. The river looks very narrow at the put-in but it quickly gets wider. If the water is low the first few hundred feet may have to be walked. Once in the upper pond stay to the left to find the narrow passage to the second pond. From the put-in it is 3.75 miles to the Indian Lake Shores boat ramp and 5 miles to the Sprague Bridge where Route 1A crosses the outlet to the ocean.

Where the Narrow River flows into the ocean heavy surf often develops. Very experienced kayakers sometimes play in this surf, but all less experienced paddlers should avoid this area.

Anadromous fish regulations apply.

This site provides access to the following water bodies: Pettaquamscutt (Narrow) River.


Alternate Site Name: Narrow River, Pettaquamscutt River

Town: North Kingstown

Driving Landmarks: This site is on Gilbert Stuart Road, at the Gilbert Stuart Museum, a mile east of where Gilbert Stuart Road takes off from Route 1.

If you are heading north on Route 1, simply look for the right turn onto Gilbert Stuart Road 1.9 miles north of the tower at Bridgetown Road (Route 138).

If you are driving south on Route 1 you will have to pass Gilbert Stuart Road and go another 1 1/4 miles south on Route 1 to where there is place to reverse direction. Then follow the directions above.

Access & Waters:

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

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 best access to the river is at the back of the lower parking lot, where there is a short path to a spot on the river with a nice low bank good for launching canoes and kayaks.

Float/Dock: no

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

Hours of Operation: The parking lot may be closed with a cable in the off season


Parking: yes: 12 spaces

ADA Accessible Parking Spaces? no

Sources for More Information:

AMC River Guide: 4th Edition, page 143-144

Ecological, Cultural & Recreational Attractions:

The Gilbert Stuart Museum is the birthplace of the famous 18th century portrait painter Gilbert Stuart and is a good place both to learn about Gilbert Stuart and see some interesting artifacts from those days, including the first snuff mill in America. There is also a fish ladder at the site that is used heavily by herring during the spring run.

No place to park, and a long walk to even get to the water

Submitted by: Anonymous; August 16, 2020; 11:47 am

We visited this spot in Aug 2020- there is no place to park-all “private” parking for the museum. There is no close access to the water from any of the parking areas anyway. The water was so low you would have to haul your kayak a mile down the road to put in. So frustrating that “the ocean state” has such limited access to waterways!! No place to park to go kayaking, everywhere is private parking, ugh! We spent 2 hours driving around the area trying to find a place to park so we could put the kayaks in, ugh!!

[Moderator’s note: if the museum is open stop and ask permission and as long as there isn’t an event going on they will normally say yes. But right now, due to COVID, the museum is closed, making this site pretty much unusable for water access.]

Accessibility follow up: Only when the museum is open

Submitted by: Jeff H.; July 27, 2020; 10:00 am

Follow up to my prior comment. I reached out to the Gilbert Stuart Museum. It appears access to the river is only available when the Museum is open and they have staff on site. Since they are currently closed due to the pandemic, access is also closed. Look forward to putting in here once the pandemic is past!

No longer accessible?!?

Submitted by: Jeff H.; July 26, 2020; 11:25 am

Tried this spot in July of 2020. The Gilbert Stuart Museum seems to have closed access to this put in. Locked gate on the parking lot nearest the water and "Gilbert Stuart Museum only" signs on the next lot up. Doesn't appear to be a viable put-in any longer with the Museum shutting it all down.

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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 July 11, 2022

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