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Shannock Falls

41° 26.87' N    71° 38.617' 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 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:

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 at the portage path on the right. To get into good position make sure to hug the right bank after you round a large boulder — otherwise the current may carry you into the rapids. Carry along the path 100 yards to the put-in below the rapids at the path’s end. 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. The last section of the river above Carolina (Route 112) is a small pond created by the dam under Carolina Road. Once you go under the Carolina Road Bridge you will immediately enter a 200 yard section of class II whitewater that cannot be portaged. This section of the river is known as the Mousehole because you are in a narrow slot down between vertical stone walls. Once through the Mousehole the river is relatively quiet for the 3.5 miles to Richmond, where there is a DEM fishing access site. This section of the river is forested and for the most part feels relatively remote from civilization. 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 .

The next take-out is at the John (Jay) Cronan River Access.

The Wood-Pawcatuck River Guide is highly recommended for paddling on the Wood-Pawcatuck river system.

Note that there is no longer public access to the river at Route 112 in Carolina.

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


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: 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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This site report was last updated on June 1, 2020

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