Get on the River

Kayakers paddle into the sunset

Kayakers on Bowdish Lake, Glocester, RI

Cheryl Thompson Cameron

Enjoying the Blackstone
The story of the Blackstone River and Canal can be told from many vantage points. Perhaps the best way to experience its history and beauty is on the waterways themselves. Throughout the watershed, the river and canal segments form an interesting and sometimes seamless exploration of the Valley and its industrial heritage where you will discover the dams, canal locks, bridges and other structures that tell the story of “America’s Hardest Working River”.

The main stem of the river meanders 46 miles from Worcester, Massachusetts to Providence, Rhode Island through urban landscapes, historic villages, farmlands, and forests. The Blackstone drops an average of almost 10 feet per mile. This drop allowed for the development of the many mills you will see along the way. Today, 18 dams are still in place and present paddlers with the challenge of several portages in certain stretches of the river.

Providing access to the river is one of the priorities of the Corridor Commission and plans are underway to improve access points and portages. While present pollution levels allow only recreational fishing in the Blackstone River, there are strong constituencies working to build support for water quality improvement.

 
NPS Rangers in a canoe on the Blackstone River

Park Service Rangers lead a Paddle Club tour

There are several ways to get on the river and canal, including:

Take a ride on the Blackstone Valley Explorer - narrated and special tours of the Blackstone River.

Paddle with The Blackstone River Paddle Club - evening paddles with local paddlers

Zap! the Blackstone - group activities to help revitalize the Blackstone Watershed

To get out on the river yourself - see our Google Earth River Guide showing river features, or download any of the suggested trips below based on your skill level and site preferences. Tours can be printed out at letter or legal size, but the information is the same in each.

BLACKSTONE RIVER GUIDE ON GOOGLE EARTH
River Guide With Parking, Dams, Rapids, and Portages

BEGINNER TOURS / MASSACHUSETTS
Blackstone Gorge to Millville Lock

INTERMEDIATE TOURS / MASSACHUSETTS
Northbridge 8x11
Northbridge 11x17
River Bend Farm Beginner and Intermediate 8x11
River Bend Farm to Blackstone Gorge 8x11
River Bend Farm to Blackstone Gorge 11x17

BEGINNER TOURS / RHODE ISLAND
Woonsocket to Manville 8x11
Woonsocket to Manville 11x17
Valley Falls 8x11

INTERMEDIATE TOURS / RHODE ISLAND
Lincoln 8x11
Lincoln 11x17

Did You Know?