If you were to break up the Nemasket River into quarters, this would be the third quarter of it. Oliver Mill is a nice place to start right about at the halfway point of the full river. It’s a great little park located right on Rt 44, with ample parking and a great park to explore the remnants of the old mill and waterways surrounding it. Check out this great video I found of the mill area before watching my video below.
Getting to the put in from the parking area is a bit of a hike.. In previous videos of me kayaking this area, you can see me portaging here and walking the full length of the park carrying the kayak. It not that fun, especially if you carry a lot of gear like I do. This time we brought my kayak cart, which makes the walk to the put in ramp a much easier venture. The little beach area is located between some pine trees and picnic tables on the far west side of the park, literally on the opposite end of the park from the parking area. Once you get to the sandy area, getting in to the river is a piece of cake. It’s an easy slide right into the current going down river from the dams surrounding Oliver Mill. You can see the pine trees in the distance behind my son in the picture below.
Immediately after you round the corner from the park you get to go through a great little tunnel under route 44. As you immerge from the tunnel you are in the great wonderland that is the Nemasket waterway. This time of the year, turtles are everywhere you look. I saw a HUGE snapper laying on the river bottom about 7 feet down as we passed over it. Turtles were covering every tree and every rock as we paddled down river, jumping for cover as soon as they noticed our arrival.
Over the past few days we have had several severe thunderstorms, dropping loads of rain on the area, which gave what is normally a lazy flow down the Nemasket a bit of a push. Though the water level was still down at least 1.5 feet from peak flow, the current was moving pretty swiftly. It made the ride down stream great. Nice and easy. But obviously I wouldn't reap that benefit on the trip back to the park, fighting the current the whole way. It was worth the struggle though.
The only part about the trip I was worried about was what I refer to as the Sketchy Bridge, aka the closed Plymouth St. bridge seen above. I hadn't seen the bridge since the end of last season when I paddled the full Nemasket River. After the wild winter we had, I thought for sure we were going to have to deal with some issue there, but when we got to the bridge, it hadn't really changed much over the last season. One thing to be cautious about for this bridge, and its the very reason it's in disrepair, is that it is a very low bridge. At times during the wet seasons, the water level is so high it is nearly going over the bridge. Obviously during this time, you will need to portage at this bridge which is always a treat because poison ivy covers the path around the bridge on the south side. North side has a nice set of steps that help quite a bit.
Going up stream was the struggle I expected. The most difficult areas were getting back through the Sketchy Bridge while fighting the current with no room to paddle, and also getting around a few downed trees that cause the current to squeeze into a smaller area which takes serious paddling to fight through. For the most part, you can paddle to the river's edge, get out and pull your kayak over the downed trees if you can't fight the current.
Nemasket is probably my favorite river in the area. From top to bottom, it has such a wide range of different features and various habitats with loads of wildlife. It's probably the cleanest river in the region, and really a treat. If you ever have the chance to paddle it, take the opportunity. It will be worth it.