September 15, 2011

Exploring the Still Waters of Central Massachusetts from Clamber Hill


Many associate canoes with Native American Indians, but canoes are truly ancient.  One  found in the Netherlands was determined with Carbon 14 dating to be from approx. 8000 BC.  At first canoes were a transportation tool, but in the second half of the 19th century they became a popular from of recreation and in the 20th century they became a sport.  Canoeing has been an Olympic Sport since 1936.

Canoes come in different styles and shapes and are build of many different materials.  Originally built of wood, they are also built of wood and canvas, birch bark, aluminum, fiberglass, kevlar, polyehtylene and even concrete!   Most folks won't believe the concrete but there is actually a concrete canoe race on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia and teams from top universities across the country build and race concrete canoes!

A concrete canoe in on the Schuylkill River
A concrete canoe in on the Schuylkill River

Here in Athol, Massachusetts there is also an annual canoe race, the River Rat Race on the Millers River.  Not as exotic as the one on the Schuylkill River but just as zany.  This 5 mile race is run by the Athol Lions Club and now draws people from all over as 250 to 300 canoes compete each year for the greatly coveted title of "River Rat".

The River Rat Race in Athol MA
The River Rat Race in Athol MA

But sport is only one aspect of canoeing.  Recreation is another major draw.  Many nature and outdoor enthusiasts are interested in canoeing as a means of exploring the world around them, gaining access to otherwise inaccessible places.   Central Massachusetts is a great place for exploring in a canoe, on the abundant rivers and lakes that abound in this undeveloped area.

The Appalachian Mountain Club has a great book, the "Quiet Water Canoe Guide" talking about the best paddling lakes and ponds in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.  Clamber Hill Inn keeps a copy of the first edition of this canoe guide in our library, one of the many resources the inn keeps for our guests to use.  And of course, the innkeepers Mark & Deni check out many of these places personally so that they can give accurate recommendations to the inn guests.

An island in Tully Lake
An island in Tully Lake

Clamber Hill in Petersham MA is centrally located to seven of the paddling ponds recommended in this canoe guide: Paradise Pond in Princeton MA, Moosehorn Pond in Hubbardston MA, Tully Lake and Long Pond in Royalston MA, Lake Dennison in Winchendon MA, Lake Rohunta in Orange MA,  Quaboag Pond in EastBrookfield MA and East Brimfield Lake and Holland Pond in Sturbridge MA.

Tully Lake, a great spot for canoeing or kayaking
Tully Lake, a great spot for canoeing or kayaking

These seven ponds are just the tip of the iceberg as there are many other wonderful places to paddle including Connor's Pond right here in Petersham MA, Queen Lake in Phillipston MA, Dunn Pond State Park in GardnerMA, Laurel Lake in the Erving State Forest and Barton's Cove (actually part of the Connecticut River) in Gill, MA.

Canoing in Barton's Cove
Canoing in Barton's Cove on the Connecticut River

So if you like to canoe, as a means of recreation not as a sport, load up your canoe and come to Clamber Hill in Central Massachusetts.   We are blessed with acres and acres of conservation land and state parks.  In fact, there is so much to explore in this area, you will find that you may never want to leave.

Lake Dennison on a September Afternoon
Lake Dennison on a September Afternoon