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Housatonic River Reach 6

Last Updated: 9/2017
Lenoxdale Footbridge to Route 20 Bridge Lee
STATISTICS
 
Skill Level:            Class 1
Estimated Time:    2 hours
Distance:               3.6 miles
USGS Map: Stockbridge, MA (7.5’x15’)
Description

 This paddle is nearly impossible.  Here's why!
  • Paddle 0.1 miles from the Housatonic Street footbridge Put-In/Take-Out on Woods Pond.​
  • Portaging the dam (128.6) in Lenoxdale on river right towards the railroad tracks.
    Address: 1 Valley St, Lee, MA 01238

  • Pass under an old railroad bridge (127.55) where it is very shallow. 
  • Pass under the Mill Street bridge (127.5) where the water is extremely shallow most of the year.  
  • Squeeze under the Golden Hill Road bridge (126.5).  This may be impassable.
 
  • Portage around the Columbia Plant dam (126.1) with no trail.
  • Pass over the remnants of another dam (125.6) which is difficult in low water.

In our opinion, this 3.6 mile reach is not worth the trouble.
Lenoxdale Footbridge - Mile 128.5
​​
Position: 42-20.98 N 73-14.63 W
Boat Launch:
Car top launch only on grassy area next to the footbridge. Only roadside parking is available.
Nearest Launch Address:
524 Housatonic St, Lenox, MA 01240
Put-In Directions (4.5 miles, 10 minutes):
From Exit 2 of the Massachusetts Turnpike (Rt. 90):
  1. After the tollbooths, turn right at the stoplight onto Route 20 West.
  2. After the tollbooths, turn right at the stoplight onto Route 20 West.
  3. Follow Route 20 West, Housatonic Street, toward the center of Lee.
  4. At mile 0.7, Route 20 turns right onto Main Street.
  5. At mile 1.1, Route 20 goes left and you will turn right  onto Center Street.
  6. At mile 1.4 miles, go slight left onto Columbia Street.
  7. At mile 3.1, cross the river and turn right onto Crystal Street in Lenoxdale.
  8. At mile 4.4, turn right onto Housatonic Street.
  9. Go to the end where the footbridge is and unload your car top boat. The only parking is roadside.​​
Lenoxdale Footbridge with the launch trail just before the bridge.
A very impressive footbridge just above the dam where the river exits.
The town of Lenox put in an excellent launch dock.
Route 20 Bridge in Lee, MA
Position: 42-18.64 N 73-15.26 W
Nearest Launch Address:
1 W Center St, Lee, MA 01238​
Boat Launch:
Roadside launch on busy road onto grassy area.  You can park on a nearby side street or designated parking on the street in town.
Put-In Directions (1.3 miles,  3 minutes):
From Exit 2 of the Massachusetts Turnpike (Rt. 90):
  1. After the tollbooths, turn right at the stoplight onto Route 20 West.
  2. Follow Route 20 West, Housatonic Street, toward the center of Lee.
  3. At mile 0.7, Route 20 turns right onto Main Street.
  4. At mile 1.1, Route 20 turns left onto West Center Street.
  5. Cross the Railroad Tracks and stop on right before the bridge that crosses the river.
Drop off near the bridge and park in town.  Launch off the bank just upstream of the  bridge.
Looking upstream at remnants of a dam.
Woods Pond
         During much of the past 50 years, the General Electric plant on the north side of Pittsfield, adjacent to the river, produced transformers. A byproduct of the manufacture of the inert plastics required for the production of the transformers was about 39,000 pounds of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. The GE facility released the PCB contaminated wastewater into Silver Pond and the Housatonic River. Although the factory has long been closed, the PCBs still remain in the riverbed sediment for most of the river's downstream expanse within Massachusetts from the plant in Pittsfield to Woods Pond in Lenox. (The Visualization of PCB Contamination in the Housatonic River Sediment by Lee R. Minardi, Damian R. Siebert, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering ,Tufts University)
              According to the human risk study, eating contaminated Housatonic fish continues to be the main health risk to people. Since 1977, the state of Connecticut has issued health advisories (aimed particularly at pregnant women and young children) warning of eating fish from the river. In Massachusetts, the health advisory extends to eating frogs, turtles and waterfowl such as ducks or geese. The EPA found a high risk of eating fish along the Housatonic anywhere from Pittsfield to Lake Zoar, Conn. The agency also found that toxic levels in waterfowl were above safe levels. In the ecology assessment, the EPA found high risk to insects like dragonflies that live on river sediment, frogs, salamanders and fish-eating animals such as mink, otter, red fox and osprey. (Valley Advocate “PCB Mess Flows South” - August 21, 2003)