Our last adventure of the recent Memorial Day weekend was a canoe trip down the Clyde River. Ben and I have done this trip three times now, and it’s not getting old yet. The trip last Monday was the earliest we’ve taken and I’d say the water conditions were the best we’ve seen.
The Clyde River rises over in Brighton; Island Pond to be precise, and meanders its way into East, and then West Charleston. It continues on into Derby, and finishes up in Newport where it drains into Lake Memphremagog, a fairly sizable lake that straddles the US/ Canada border.
Just shy of 35 miles long, the Clyde drops through several waterfalls in its course. Hydro-electric power is generated at a couple of dams, one in West Charleston and the other at the outflow of Clyde Pond just before its final run into the lake. There are several ponds and a lake that are part of this watershed, including Pensioner Pond. That pond was the terminus of Monday’s cruise.
We launched the canoe about three miles upstream on Rt. 105, where the Clyde passes the Charleston Elementary School. There’s a nice access spot right by the bridge, with a convenient turnaround. My wife drove the Jeep back home after dropping us off with the canoe.
This access point is popular, mostly by folks that rent kayaks and canoes from Clyde River Recreation, and it’s not unusual to run into a trailer being offloaded. But, it is a public access point, so, first come- first served.
The Clyde is not a fast-water river in these stretches. It features a soft but steady current, and more than enough water for canoes and kayaks. Personally, I prefer a canoe, as you’re up over the water rather than “down in it”, and there’s more visibility. I also find a canoe more comfortable than the confining cockpit of a kayak. But, to each their own. Many more kayaks traverse this stretch of the river than canoes.
The scenery along the trip is about what you’d expect, mostly wooded with occasional glimpses of the surrounding farmland. We’ve seen a variety of wildlife on our trips, and this time we spotted an otter not long after getting into the windy part of the trip. Shortly after seeing the otter- maybe 30 minutes?- we spotted a big whitetail deer on the western bank, leaping away from the water. As we passed where she had been, my son spotted this nestled down in the weeds, right along the shore.
That was a great sight. I’ve never come across a baby deer that new before.
Continuing along, there were many different birds seen, including a kingfisher that kept about 100 yards ahead of us as we worked our way through bend after bend. While there are many obstructions; mostly trees falling across the watercourse, along this section of river passage is good as the rental company clears passage each spring. We saw several instances of fresh chainsaw work.
After roughly two hours of winding river, the Clyde empties out into Pensioner Pond, where we concluded our trip. It’s really hard to set an actual distance on the amount of river traveled as you can see in the map below. Somewhere between 5 and 7 miles would be my guess. We paddled across the pond to the house, flipped the canoe over on the shore and headed up the hill for lunch.