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Oxbow Pond  (off the Connecticut River)

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Last Updated: 10/2014
Description
       The Department of Environmental Management controls this pond; hence there is public access all the way around it. There is no formal boat-launching ramp, but it is possible to launch car top boats.    
Fishing
      This pond has a long reputation as a fish producer, particularly for largemouth bass and indigenous northern pike. There is a good stock density of quality size large-mouths 12 inches or better, and several good pike up to 34 inches were sampled. Pike over 25 pounds have been taken here, and a trophy tiger muskie is always a possibility. Growth rates and condition factors of most species are above the state average due to an abundant forage base of golden shiners and thousands of small herring (the offspring of annual spring anadromous runs). It is possible that short-nose sturgeon may occasionally enter the pond from the river. If hooked, sturgeon should be released immediately and unharmed, as they are a rare, protected species. (March 1993)
 
Description
       The Oxbow is trisected into three basins bordering Route 91. The 123-acre central basin is the largest. It is connected via a channel at the south end with the lower basin and the Connecticut River. Boating is possible to and from the river and around the bend of the horseshoe. Only the upper 43-acre basin is isolated, connected to the other basins by only a small drainage pipe.  I have not yet paddled this section.
      After launching your boat begin your trip by turning left, west, into the Oxbow.  Many boats are launched for use on the Connecticut River here but we will concentrate on the Oxbow.
 
Lower Basin
The Route 5 and Railroad bridges that lead to the Connecticut River and the Route 91 bridges to the west define the lower basin.  This small basin is a good place to fish bass in the shallows.  There is a definite increase in weeds in late summer and fall.  The north shore is private land owned by Packaging Corporation of America who design and build packaging for thousands of different products.
 
Central Basin
      Now paddle under the Route 91 Bridges.  As you immerge into the Central Basin you should turn immediately right toward the north side.  The south side shoals up so much so that even a kayak will run aground.  You can turn to the south shore just after a small island where the water starts to deepen.  There are several side paddles that make this a real adventure.
 
Mahan River
       Avoid the gravel/sand delta and enter the Mahan River.  This small river is very wooded and winds to the west toward Easthampton.  The last time I paddled it, I had to negotiate around many fallen trees and turned back after about a mile.  When the water is high in early season it is possible to make up to the rail trail bridge and Lovefield Street.  Find your way back to the Oxbow.
        Follow the south shore passing the Easthampton Rod & Gun Club along River Street and several private homes on Old Stagecoach Road.  The shore now heads northwest and is bordered by farmland.
 
 


 
 
Danks Pond
      Just as the shore turns due north, turn left and south into Danks Pond.  Late in the season this becomes nearly impassible but the rest of the year is enough water.  Farm fields and Fort Hill Road surround the dead end pond.  Up and back is about 0.8 miles.
 
Hulberts Pond and Mill River
       Exit this side pond and turn north and then left (west) again this time under a small bridge.  You pass under Old Springfield Road into Hulbert’s Pond.  The pond is extremely shallow but an excellent place to observe wildlife.  If you stay to the south side, you can pass into Mill River.  Surprisingly, it is possible to paddle up this river for a fair distance.  In late season only a mile is possible but in late spring it is possible to work your way all the way to Paradise Pond Dam at Smith College in Northampton, about 2.5 miles each way.
 
North End
       Now, exit Hulbert’s Pond and head northeast along the shore.  Pass the docks for Northampton Youth and Community Rowing. 
 
 
 



 
       Now travel all the way to Route 91 shore.  There is an underwater connection to the North Basin but not boat access under the highway.  Now travel along the shore where woods give way to a long sand bar and the Oxbow Marina.  This basin is filled with many boats and docks in the summer season most of it can be paddled
 
 
 
 


 
      Finally, paddle south along the curving shoreline.  Some areas are shallow and filled with weeds in the late summer and fall so you will need to detour off shore for a while.  The shoreline is wooded with farmland behind it.  Follow the deep channel and back to the Route 91 bridges ending your paddle at the boat ramp.
    
STATISTICS

Skill Level:            Class 1 - Flat water
Estimated Time:    3 hours to  7 hours
Total Distance:    16.9 miles  (including ponds rivers up and back) 
Upper Basin    1.8 miles
Central Basin   5.0 miles
Lower Basin     0.9 miles
Mahan River    1.5 miles
Hulbert’s Pond 1.2 miles
Mill River          2.5 miles
 
USGS Map: Easthampton, MA and Mt. Holyoke, MA (7.5’x15’)
Launch Address:  950 Mt Tom Rd, Easthampton, MA

Position: 42-17.30 N 72-37.10 W    
Boat Launch: Paved State Boat Ramp with large parking lot.
 
Physical Features:
  • Total Area:      204 acres   
    Central Basin 123 acres
    Upper Basin 43 acres
  • Max depth:        18 feet
  • Average Depth:   7 feet
  • Transparency:     4 feet
  • Terrain Type: Woods, Wetlands, Homes, Conservation Land
Fish Population
  • Last survey 1982
  • 17 Species: golden shiner, bluegill, largemouth bass, yellow perch, pumpkinseed, white perch, blue-back herring, white sucker, brown bullhead, northern pike, channel catfish, black crappie, smallmouth bass, rock bass, fallfish and tiger muskie. Carp were observed but not counted. The northern pike represent a reproducing population.     
   
Put In and Take Out: 1.4 miles, 2 min.
  • From US Route 91 take exit 18:
  • After leaving Route 91, head south on Route 5, Mt. Tom Road.
  • Head south with railroad and the Connecticut River on your left, east.
  • Pass over the bridge and at mile 1.4 turn right into boat launch.
 
The Boat Ramp
       The boat ramp is maintained by the state Public Access Board.  This state boat is well used and well maintained.  The ramp itself is paved wide enough to launch two boats on trailers at one time.  There is a portable bathroom available, ample parking for vehicles with trailers, designated parking for car-top boats, and grass area that is well groomed.
 
    
 
    
State Pond Map
View from Mount Holyoke
 
View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm, commonly known as The Oxbow, is a seminal landscape painting byThomas Cole, founder of theHudson River School. The painting depicts a Romantic panorama of the Connecticut River Valley just after a thunderstorm. It has been interpreted as a confrontation between wilderness and civilization
Easthampton Rod and Gun Club
Northampton Youth and Community Rowing
Paved Boat Ramp
Oxbow Marina
Passage to the Connecticut River
Large parking area for all types of vehicles and trailers