Canoeing the Clyde River with Kids

By Karrie Thomas

Karrie 2Where would you take a two and five year-old for their first canoe trip on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail? Culley and I decided to start with the Clyde River in Vermont out of Island Pond.

Our trip was on July 5th and the town was in the midst of a parade and festival—it seemed like everyone for miles around was there enjoying the celebration! With my canoe emblazoned with the Northern Forest Canoe Trail logo I attracted the attention of Ross Stevens from Northwoods Stewardship Center who takes our Northern Forest Explorers on this stretch of river. It was serendipitous to meet one of NFCT’s partners and have a warm welcome!

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My family likes an adventure, so we were not deterred by the winds whipping across the lake as we hopped out of the car in town at the put in. However, I will admit that we were glad to tuck under the bridge and into the meandering curves of the river winding out of town and toward Pensioner Pond.

Finnegan, our five-year-old, is a real nature hound, and this trip turned out to be a big hit with him. We paddled through the cattails saying hello to the black birds flirting with each other along the way. Soon the marshscape gave way to a taller forest with pine and cedar where we followed a Kingfisher for a mile or so. We stopped for lunch on a sand bar and found a backwater eddy filled with minnows. Finn patiently tried to catch them, but alas they were too quick.

As a first trip, we were conservative and chose to set our shuttle at the Five Mile Square Road access. With a long lunch break swimming in the river, the three miles or so took us almost three hours. The kids had so much fun we will venture down to Ten Mile Square next time and maybe even make it all the way to Pensioner Pond.Fischer with Hula Hoop

The best part of every adventure is an ice cream cone! For this trip we stopped at Rubylee’s in East Burke on the way home. The spectacle of mountain bikers and the shop’s hula hoops provided all the entertainment we needed for another hour of fun.

Culley’s cousin Ian was with us, and he noted the amount of work it takes to maintain the water trail through here. “We wouldn’t be able to paddle this section at all if Northern Forest Canoe Trail crews didn’t take the time to cut out all these blow downs!”

We were pretty pleased to have the opportunity.

Karrie Thomas became the Executive Director of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail in spring 2014. Having recently moved back to New England from California, Karrie is delighted to be introducing her sons to the lakes and rivers of the Northeast.