Sunday, December 30, 2012

AMC River Guide for Massachusetts, Connecticut & Rhode Island

I seriously think that the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) has the guidebook business for New England cornered. The more I go through all the guidebooks and stuff that I have, the more and more I realize they’re all from the AMC. That’s okay though because AMC puts together excellent guidebooks that I have never seen surpassed for the areas that they cover.

This book is no different and like the other AMC guidebooks the AMC River Guide: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island (River Guide from now on) is an extensive look at canoeing and kayaking opportunities in southern New England.

There are four major river basins that traverse Southern New England and make up the majority of river trips described in the book (there are more rivers by the way, including ones like the Taunton and the Blackstone in Massachusetts and they are given some coverage). The basins include the Housatonic River basin in western Massachusetts and Connecticut; The Connecticut River drains central Massachusetts and Connecticut; the Thames River drains eastern Connecticut; and finally the Merrimack River, which drains northeastern Massachusetts and central New Hampshire.

So to start, the River Guide breaks southern New England and its many rivers and tributaries into an easy to follow and easy to read guide. Each of the four major rivers and their tributaries are broken down into various watersheds and then into trips of a shorter length (a day or so) by geographic areas.

Each trip description begins with a handy table that summarizes everything you need to know about the river including distance of the trip, the degree of difficulty in running the river (this book covers both flatwater and whitewater), the last time an AMC paddler field checked the river, recommended time of year for travel, maps, descriptions of any portages, scenery and campsites you’ll pass along the way.

So what’s covered in the book? 

As I said before, the four main river basins of southern New England form the bulk of the river descriptions. The book not only covers the main river in each basin, but their many tributaries, which can be major rivers in there own right. Then these watersheds are further broken down into major rivers and their tributaries and then into shorter trips to make the descriptions better organized.

Suffice to say if you can find a river to run in Southern New England, it’s probably somewhere in this book, there’s that many listings. If I started to list all the rivers included, you’d be scrolling down for some time.

What else is in the book? 

Beyond the river descriptions, the book includes a preface and a short introduction, followed by a quick overview and guide to river trip descriptions and in general how to use the book.

After the river descriptions, there’s an appendix that includes the Safety Code of the American Whitewater Affiliation, along with information on river protection, paddling safety, information on AMC and more. For a paddler without much experience, this section is a good resource. The basic safety tenets of paddling are provided, along with plenty of other helpful information. It’s always better to be prepared ahead of time and avoid any problems, than trying to deal with these situations as they happen.

Unlike many other AMC guidebooks, the index in the River Guide is very basic and only provides information on the various rivers covered. Other information such as towns or counties isn’t included to reference. That’s not really a problem though, as most people will have the river’s name and be able to work with it through the different geographic locations.

Who Needs a book like this? 

This book is most geared towards those who live in Southern New England and want to explore the paddling opportunities in their backyards. Some others from outside the area might be interested, but generally, the trips and rivers aren’t that stunning that you would travel across the country to try it. That’s not to say that the rivers in southern New England stink, they don’t, but they aren’t as large, as rugged, or as wild as rivers in other states such as Maine.

The book is an indispensable guide for paddlers anywhere in southern New England and I bet you’ll find trips you never thought of nearby.

No comments: