• The Slater Mill (yellow) and Wilkinson Mill (stone), along the Blacktone River in Pawtucket RI

    Blackstone River Valley

    National Heritage Corridor MA,RI

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 – the main stem of the river and its tributaries and the segments of watered canals. 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, steeper than even the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. 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 - a 49 passenger boat that docks at several different places along the river and offers narrated and special tours of the Blackstone River.

Join the Blackstone River Paddle Club and enjoy an evening on the River with other paddlers. For more information please visit their website.

Find out more about getting involved in the efforts to revitalize the Blackstone Watershed and join one of the many groups in their activities on the River under Zap! the Blackstone.

Enjoy a paddle down the river in a canoe or kayak. You can download a Google Earth file showing river features. Or, you can download any of the information below to find out more about paddling the Blackstone River and take one of the following suggested trips that are based on your skill level and preferences.

Please note, some tours are listed as both 8×11 and 11X17. This refers to the paper size the tour is designed for. Tours listed as 8×11 will print out on four 8×11 sheets of paper while 11×17 tours will print out on two 11×17 sheets of paper. Both formats include identical tour information and maps.

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?

John Slater House, Slatersville, RI

After opening America's first successful textile mill, Samuel Slater also helped establish America's first mill village. Slatersville, in North Smithfield, RI, began operations in 1807. His brother John Slater, who lived in the white house seen here, ran the village for almost 40 years.