By Beth Sullivan
Many of Avalonia’s preserves include a water feature. There are ponds, marshes, streams, even rivers. You can walk along or around or even through many of these, but along the shoreline there is a better way to enjoy the view-by kayak. With the end of summer very near, crowds are diminishing, colors are intensifying, migrating birds move along the shore on their way south, and even some butterflies and dragonflies stage migrations over water along the coast.
Marsh access by kayak
Many of our coastal preserves are marsh lands, and it is difficult and unwise to walk on the fragile salt marsh. Usually the closest you can get is a glimpse from the road. To really appreciate the expanse of grasses, the wildlife along the inlets, channels and over the land, it is ever so much better to view from the water.
|Paddle up the Quiambaug Cove to to to Knox Family Farm.|
Sandy Point is an Island, so of course you need a boat. Put in from Barn Island Boat launch and paddle across little Narragansett Bay, and you can pull up close to shore and either paddle or wade, towing your boat along the North Shore. Now you can observe the staging of migrating shore birds, sandpipers, plovers and terns. Some of them are protected species so avoid undue disturbance. Also from the Barn Island Boat launch you can head far east to find the Continental Marsh Preserve with its new Osprey nest platform, or go west and up the cove to see the Wequetequock Cove Preserve and meadows full of milkweed and Monarchs.
|From Dodge Paddock or Barn Island, Sandy Point is an easy paddle. Photograph by Roger Wolfe.|
Another launch spot is a small access area on the side of Wilcox Road, off Rt 1 in Stonington. From there you have some choices. Paddle under Rt 1, up the Quiambaug cove, and on the east shore look for Avalonia Land Conservancy signs. The Knox Family Farm runs along the cove for quite a ways and includes a small inlet area. On the gravel bank of the cove, volunteers have created a new kayak landing with tie-up rail and stairs up the slope. From there, you can do a nice loop hike on the preserve.
|A new kayak landing was created and posted by our volunteers.|
From the same roadside launch, nearly the entire west shore, except the Cemetery edge, is the Knox Preserve-a totally different vantage point. The rocky shores are so different than the mowed trails. When the tide is low you can get onto a small beach that is hard to reach from the trail, due to massive poison ivy patches.
|Along the rocky shore of Knox Preserve, people enjoy the water at low tide.|
Paddle under the Rail Road Bridge and head east, around Lord’s Point, and the next big marshland area is the Woolworth-Porter Preserve. From this angle you can see the beautiful greens of the marsh grasses and can head up a little inlet or creek and wind deeper into the preserve. This actually extends quite a ways north, to the rail Road Tracks, but the waterway doesn’t extend very far.
For a longer trip, from the same launch site, you can head west along the shore and out and around Latimer’s point, remembering that the Knox preserve is just on the other side of the tracks. Look for the osprey nest high on a pole. Going west around Latimer Point, you will come to another large marshland area. This is a big expanse of Cottrell Marsh which extends all the way over to Mason’s Island Road. This area has some interesting high islands with trees and shrubs where Herons and Egrets love to roost at this time of year.
|Cottrell Marsh has wooded knolls and extensive salt marshes to explore.|
Go through the gate at the Simmons Preserve, on North Main Street in Stonington, to a little access area onto Quanaduck Cove. You can paddle up, under Rt 1, and find yourself at the marshy southern tip of Paffard Woods.
|From Simmons Preserve it is a gentle paddle around Quanaduck Cove.|
Respect the fragile marsh ecosystem
Getting out on any of the marsh areas is really not encouraged. The ground can be quite unstable, the habitat is fragile, and there are several species of birds that are in need of protection during nesting season.
|You can pull up kayaks in several areas, but please be careful on fragile marsh habitats.|
Take note of what a wonderful buffer the marshlands are, protecting the upland from storm surges and tides and providing a sanctuary for all sorts of wildlife. Avalonia is dedicated to protecting and preserving the marshlands along the coast line. Enjoy the view from the water.
Maps and directions to all these preserves can be found on our website.
Photographs by Beth Sullivan, unless otherwise noted.