THE ANATOMY OF A RIVER PAGE

How to use a River Page
 
1. First review all the information provided on the page.
2. Using Google Earth and/or Google Maps, use the address and/or position we provide to carefully study the waters.  You can read the description and follow it along the Maps. 
3. Select the appropriate National Weather Service Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service links.  Also examine the USGS Streamflow Current Conditions links.
4. Visit the River Association website for more information and restrictions.
5. Scout the paddle.   If possible, take a ride down the river area ahead of time to scout out the waters from any white water, dams, bridges etc.  This way there are no surprises.
6. Get a Weather Report.  If there is any rain coming take this into account and consider your experience when making a decision.
6. Review the What To Bring web page.
7. Get your gear together and have a great paddle.
8. Finally, after your paddle you could give us a review of your experiences.  Help us update information with additions or corrections.
    
THE RIVER PAGE
 Description:
Here you will find a general description of the River. 


Other Resources:
There may be other resources that are useful to the use of the river or historical significants.  Examples are:
  • History information and associated website(s).
  • River Association and Authority and a link to their website(s),
  • Dams and Bridges information
  • Power Company websites with links and telephone numbers for water release information

Statistics
These useful numbers give a quick glance of what you will be getting into:
 
Distance:
The entire river has been carefully measured using a mapping tool on USGS Maps.  We provide the length of the entire river and length in Massachusetts where appropriate. (i.e. Connecticut River)  I the river splits into branches at the source then we provide length information for each branch.  If the source of the river (or branch) is a lake or large impoundment then we provide a link to that lake description page from the appropriate county.

 
Access Points:
Every publicly available river access point is listed for the river or those in Massachusetts.  If the list is long, there will be a separate webpage accessed through a button.  For each access point we provide:
Miles: The number of miles from the mouth of the river.
Name: A short descriptive name.
Position: Latitude and Longitude of the launch.  This has an accuracy of less than 50 feet.
Nearest Adddress:  This is the closes address from Google Maps/Google Earth to the launch location.  This can be used in a GPS you may have in your vehicle.  This is probably the best way to arrive at the location.

The Reaches:
       This section shows all the available reaches in Massachusetts or those that can be paddled.  A REACH is a section of the a river from a logical geographic start point to a logical end point.  They are numbered from the headwater to the river mouth.  A tabulated chart is provided of reaches.  If the reach has been written up the the entry will be a button link to a reach page. (see below) Each listed reach has the following information:
  • Reach Number
  • Start point name
  • Start miles from the mouth of the river
  • End point name
  • End miles from the muth of the river
  • Total miles of the reach.

​River Level
         The National Weather Service Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service provide access to many locations on rivers where river levels may be critical.  For each location they provide a chart that show recent history, current, predictions of the river level.  The chart also give the level indication of action, minor, and moderate flooding levels.  These are used by Emergency Managers and other planners.  Some section of rivers cannot be navigated below a minimum level.  Use this useful information when planning a paddle.

USGS Current Streamflow Conditions
       The United States Geological Survey have river gauge locations on every river in the United States.  These are automated stations that send their information to a central database.  It is then made available realtime on their website.  The charts provided gives information of both river level and volume of flow in cubic feet per second.
        We have provided direct links to their website of those relevant gauge stations.

THE REACH PAGE


Description:
A description of the paddle is provided with as much detail of each section that we can.  This is based on our own experience as well as the experiences of others we know.

Statistics
1. Skill Level based on the International Scale of River Difficulty.   Match the river section to your skill level.  If your not sure, then review the class system from the link below.


2. Estimated Time:
How many hours it should take an average paddler to travel the reach.
3. Distance:
The entire river has been carefully measured using a mapping tool on USGS Maps.  We provide the length of the reach in miles and some cases the distance from put-in to take-out where appropriate if it deviates from the reach distance.
4. USGS Map(s):
Some people prefer to use a paper sectional map produced over a section of land created by the United States Geological Survey.  Each sectional map has a designated name which is provided here.  You can purchase these maps at Outfitters and certain sports shops.  You need to learn how to interpret the information on these maps.  It would take many pages here to explain it all.  Look for a good book on land navigation.  An alternative is to print out the map(s) section we provided for each reach and bring it along with you.

Put-In/Take-Out
For every Put-In and Take-Out and Alternates we provide:
  1. Positions:
    Latitude and Longitude with an accuracy of one hundredth of a minute.   This position is universal making it unique to any other in the world.  Use it on maps and online in Google Earth.  With the positions I give, Latitude translates into an accuracy of about 60 feet and for Longitude almost half that for our Latitude.  Remember, each degree has 60 minutes and one minute of Latitude = 1852 meters = 6076.1155 feet.  Look for more information about coordinates at the following links. 
  2. Boat Launch:
    A short description of the launch site and any services that may be available there.
  3. Launch Addresses:
    This is the closest address to the put-in location for the paddle.  In some cases, there are unnamed roads, roads that are within a state forest, or roads that have so few buildings that an accurate address is impossible.  Also, in some cases there may be more than one location to put-in and take-out.  The assumption is that you have a GPS in your car and are using this to travel to the location.  Enter the address into your GPS to navigate too.  Some vehicle GPSs allow you to enter a longitude and lattitude (see below for details).  In these cases, you will be able to navigate with 60 feet of the launch area.  It is useful to cut and paste the address into Google Maps or Google Earth online to find the location ahead of time.
  4. Directions:
    ​For those who are not using a vehicle GPS and the address provided above, a list of directions, distance, and time had been provided from a major easily found location.  (i.e. a interstate exit, etc.)
 
Images of launch site and other river locations
A picture is often better than a thousand words.  We provided actual images taken at the paddle sight.  They include such things as Boat Ramps, Dams, Distant Views, and key locations.
 
Imbeded Google Earth
Used this tool to zoom and pan on the actual area to be paddled.  In the upper left are controls to change between Map and Satellite view.  In the upper left you can select a small man icon that can be dragged to a road location that will allow you to view from road level.  For a larger view with more controls, go to Google Earth or better still, download and install the Google Earth application.

Partial USGS Sectional Map 
Below all the written information on the Lake Page is a partial USGS Map.  This map has marks on the side indicating longitude and latitude.   We have added enhancements have been added with symbols and text for improved use.  At the bottom margin is a  milage scale and a indication of the direction of True North and Magnetic North so that a handheld compass can be used with a print out of this map.
 
 International Scale of River Difficulty
Map Tools
WIKIPEDIA
Information Sources
 
Mass.gov – The state provides significant information on Lakes and Rivers in the Bay State.  They have provided pdf files that can be downloaded and printed of the most significant lakes and ponds.  I have provided links to each of these maps.
 
Army Corp of Engineers – These reservoirs have been developed primarily for flood control.  Their waterways, dams, lakes and ponds, and surrounding lands are all federally maintained.  Links to information on the websites have been provided when appropriately.
 
Google Earth – If you have not downloaded and installed this excellent software, do it now!  You can zoom in and out, click on images posted by people, on many main roads you can enter the road level allowing you to travel down a road and view how things actually look if you were there.  I used it to confirm the accuracy of put-in/take-out positions and addresses.
 
Google Maps – An online tool that can help you plan your travel route and travel time to the addresses provided.
 
TOPO – The New England version.  I have received permission by email from National Geographic to reproduce maps from their software.  This software provides detail information by using mapping tools.  Digital versions of USGS (United States Geological Survey) Maps seamlessly allows a user to view any location in the United States.  Each Lake page has a map of the lake using this tool.  Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, the software is no longer being sold by them.  If you can find a copy then install it and use it.
 
Town and City Websites – These local government websites are a great source of information that is not available anywhere else.
 
Lake Associations – More and More residents around lakes have established a ruling authority so that the best interest for a lake or pond is addressed.  These associations consider the health of the lake and the uses that are authorized.  I have provided links to the websites for you.
 
Hand held GPS - I have a handheld GPS that is waterproof.  I take it with me to navigate as well as a record of the paddle trip.  Most GPS are WAAS enabled which allow accuracy as much as one meter (about 3 feet).  I upload the crum trail (a record of every position from the paddle) to the TOPO software to compare with the USGS Map for accuracy. (FYI, the “crum trail” idea comes from Hansel and Gretal story)  I will provide more information on GPS later.  Look for a good book or websites for detailed information.  You could always take a course in navigation!
 
Our Own Notes – We give some of our own experiences of a given paddle.  Of course it is subjective!