Quaddick Reservoir is located in the northeastern corner of Connecticut just on the other side of the Rhode Island state line. Quaddick, is Nipmuck Indian for “bend in the river”, and it had been a fishing area for the tribe for a long time before the first European settlers arrived. Part of the area surrounding the lake is now a state park and visitors can hike trails and fish the waters that extend almost all the way up to Thompson Speedway several miles to the north. The lake is developed but the houses are spaced far enough apart to give it a nice rural appearance.
We first heard about Quaddick through a customer who lives right on the lake. He had seen a few folks paddling around and having a blast so he decided he wanted to try it too. Quaddick is almost a straight shot down route 44, which we can see from the front door of our shop, so it only makes sense that we would check it out. We followed the road through Pulaski Park and then up Quaddick Farm Rd. We turned left into the Quaddick Park and followed a winding road down to the water. Piece of cake.
There is a little parking area right outside the rotary that services a boat launch. There are many places to drop our boards in the water but this was the easiest spot to get in and out of that we saw. It was a beautifully clear, warm day and the wind was starting to pick up out of the north. The lake was pretty much free of traffic except for a couple of kayakers and a pontoon boat. We snapped a few pics with our dry-cased cell phones and began heading upwind.
The lake has a lot of coves and inlets, as well as islands and beachy shorelines. There are basically three sections to the lake. Shortly after setting out a kayaker came over to us to ask some questions about standup paddleboarding. We learned that he worked for the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management for 30 years in Pulaski and George Washington Parks. He turned down appointments to high-level position within state government on multiple occasions so that he could continue working outside in the parks where he could help manage the eco-systems and secure the natural beauty of these areas.
He also worked as a firefighter for ten years out in Colorado, California, and Wyoming and handled the infamous Yellowstone wild fire of the 1980’s where hundreds of thousands acres of land were scorched and burned. Meeting “the kayaker” helped reaffirm my faith that there are awesome people in the world that understand the importance of the natural environment, clean air and clean water. It turns out he knows Cathy’s family. Her grandfather, the late Reverend Frank S. Hall married him and his wife many years ago. We didn’t even get his name, but we hope to run into him again on Quaddick and teach him how to paddle standing up!
He advised us that the southerly section, accessed by going under a small bridge, opens up into a large body of water that has two islands and a hidden cove on the west side corner of the bridge. There are no beaches over there so it is nice and quite. So that is where we headed.
We continued our journey upwind past a long stretch of forest on the west side of the lake. The state acquired the land years ago protecting it from development. It wraps around to the north along Baker Road and opens up to include a wide swath of land that extends to the Rhode Island border. Along the east side of this section there are a smattering of large homes interspersed with some smaller abodes. We then passed an island thick with conifers and berry bushes towards the end of the main section of the lake. Just beyond the island was the Baker Road Bridge.
The lake up to that point had been clear of any aquatic vegetation. The state treated it the previous month killing off the milfoil and other invasive weeds. The kayaker was not happy about that due to the impact those chemicals may have over the long-term health of lake. When he was in charge of Bowdish Lake in George Washington Management Area he would oversee a process where they would drain the lake in the wintertime and let it freeze. If the winter stayed cold enough and the snowfall was minimal, the invasive vegetation would freeze in the ice and when the thaws came in spring the vegetation would be ripped up from the expanding ice pack and die. And so, they had a chemical-free way to bring a lake back to its original, natural state.
As we approached the low bridge we ducked down and slipped under, coming out in a totally different waterscape. There were no houses of any sign of human development, just an endless stoic tree line and the sounds of wild life everywhere. Navigating through the increasing milfoil and lily pad fields got more challenging the farther we went but we were determined to make it to the swamp up by the speedway. We saw just a couple of kayakers and a fisherman but other than that we were alone. We saw Blue Heron in a small cove grown over with pink and white lilies that were in bloom. We made it to the swamp, snapped a few more pictures and headed back.
It was great to have wind at our backs as it was picking up in strength. We sliced through lily pads and weeds with authority only occasionally stopping to free our fins of the weeds that only served to slow us down. We got back to our little boat ramp and had one last look around knowing we would be back to explore the lower section of Quaddick. If you ever have some free time and are wondering what to do with it- consider Quaddick, it is a great place to go paddling.
Tags: paddleboarding ri, quaddick réservoir, puddle boarding, paddle boarding ri,paddleboarding lakes, paddle boarding lakes, paddle board trips, paddleboard trips,paddleboarding adventure, paddle boarding adventure