Wampanoag Canoe Passage trip in 2005

I still have the yellowed mimeographed sheet labeled “Canoe Trip,” with the directions for Boy Scout Troop 66 of Norwell’s two-day trip in the 1970’s on the Wampanoag Canoe Passage: “Put in the North River where Route 53 crosses over it at 7:00 AM Saturday morning… Take out of Taunton River at 5:00 PM Sunday at a bridge to be announced…Each canoe must have one pruning hook or pruning cutters for cutting through overgrown brooks…

This trip is a high adventure. It is a historic trail older than the Pilgrims coming to this area. It has not been done in recent years. We will be pioneering it anew in many ways… Look forward to this outing as a significant experience in your young lives.” And so it was. I still remember it fairly well, the mud and the lamprey eels, the floating dead pig on the headwaters of the Taunton River, the poison ivy and the portages.

It was a significant experience, and continues to be so in my no longer-so-young life. The Passage has existed for eons and is in some ways timeless, like the rivers themselves. But like the rivers, it has been changed by the hand of man. Paddle the Passage, and you see the changes. Click here for the rest of the article.

From a April 2015 issue of RiverWatch, a newsletter of the North and South Rivers Watershed Association comes a story about a trip on the Wampanoag Canoe Passage that replicates the journeys of the Indigenous tribes that populated Southeastern Massachusetts.

A number of groups have taken the trip which traverses the 72-mile trip from Scituate on the Atlantic Coast to the Dighton shores of the Taunton River, and to Narragansett Bay, including a group with Nick Tyek in 2009 (above left photo), a group from Marshfield in 2010 (above right photos), and Peter Kelly who spoke about a 2012 trip he planned on the North River in a 5-minute video.

The above Google map gives the exact route of the trip and identifies the stops and portages required for the two-day trip. Anyone today can replicate the trip using this map.

(Above) Sowams Heritage Area Project Coordinator Dave Weed took a portion of the trip along the Taunton River from Bridgewater to Assonet in 2007 and took these photos.