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Photo: John Phelan

Towns in the Westport River Watershed:

Massachusetts

  • Fall River

  • Freetown

  • Dartmouth

  • Westport

Rhode Island

  • Little Compton

  • Tiverton

Major Tributaries:

  • Kirby Brook

  • Snell Creek

  • Angeline Brook

Organization working in the Westport River Watershed:​

Buzzards Bay Coalition

Westport River Watershed Alliance

Learn More

Environmental Concerns for the Westport


As of 2020, the biggest environmental concerns for the Westport River include nutrient loading, such as nitrogen pollution, and pathogen contamination. Learn more about local issues >>




Additional Facts


Did You Know?

  • The Westport River watershed encompasses 6 towns in 2 states (MA and RI). In Massachusetts the towns include Fall River, Freetown, Dartmouth, Westport. Rhode Island includes Tiverton, Little Compton. Learn more about the watershed >>
  • The East and West branches of the river are listed on the Commonwealth’s 303d list of impaired water bodies for pathogen contamination.





What Are People Saying?

A cool fact about the Westport:

"We may have more nesting Osprey than anywhere else in the U.S. As one paddles either branch [of the Westport], you can see multiple Osprey nests. It’s a success story because of the near extinction of Osprey in the 1960s due to DDT*. " 

Concerns about the Westport:

"The biggest concern is the high levels of nitrogen in the river and salt marsh loss. Westport has no public sewers, which means each house has a septic system that was created under [Massachusetts] Title 5 that filters bacteria but not nitrogen. Westport is well above the TMDL (Total Max Daily Level) of nitrogen set by the state."

- Deborah Weaver (Executive Director, Westport River Watershed Alliance)

Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, an insecticide that was banned in the U.S. in 1972

Westport River Activities
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Swimming
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Walk, Hike, Bike
Paddling
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Boating & Sailing
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Fishing
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Swimming

 

Swimming locations:

  • Horseneck Beach State Reservation (Westport) This beach is a popular place to go swimming. Learn more about facilities and parking rates here.

    • 5 John Reed Rd​.

During the summer, parts of the river are often closed for public swimming due to pathogen contamination. If you do go swimming, it is advised that you swim in the southern parts of the river. 

The Westport River Watershed Alliance tests the River for recreational use in the summer - see the results >>

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Walk, Hike, Bike

 

Walking, hiking, and biking locations:

  • Old Harbor Wildlife Refuge (Westport). ​​Two trails depart from the parking area at Old Harbor: the yellow trail, which runs south for a short wooded loop, and the red trail, which leads to a more extensive trail network. Altogether, the trails make up a network just under two miles long. Click here to view the trail map. 

    • 383 Old Harbor Rd.

    • Small unpaved parking area off Old Harbor Road.

  • Brookside Conservation Area (Westport). There is one short, out-and-back trail of about a quarter mile. The trail meanders alongside Bread and Cheese Brook and offers plenty of spots to stop and appreciate the view. Click here to view the trail map. 

    • Small unpaved parking area (space for 3 to 4 cars) off Route 177.

  • Westport Woods Conservation Park (Westport). There are almost three miles of trails, which begin directly off the parking lot in the front fields. The trails are flat and marked by colored arrows. Gravel path around the front field is handicap-accessible. Click ​​here to view the trail map.

    • Large paved parking area.

  • Mill Pond Conservation Area (Westport). A firm crushed-rock path starts from the parking lot and leads through the orchard. In total, the trail is about a quarter-mile long. Orchard Path is handicap-accessible. Click here to view the trail map. 

    • Medium-sized unpaved parking area (space for 4-5 cars).

  • Noquochoke Conservation Area (Westport). The trail is three-quarters of a mile long and consists of three connected loops.

    • Small dirt parking area.

  • Let Conservation Area (Westport). This 63-acre forested property contains a network of smooth, easy trails. Many of these trails end at private property. Click here to view the trail map. 

    • No parking available.

  • Herb Hadfield Conservation Area (Westport). The main trail (the red trail) runs for about 1 mile between the property’s two parking areas, providing an interesting walk with several offshoots to explore. Click here to view the trail map. 

    • Two small gravel parking areas.

More locations can be found here!

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Paddling

 

Paddling locations:

  • Westport River State Boat Ramp (Westport). This ramp is available to the public and costs $5 a day. There are multiple public launch sites. Learn more here at the Buzzards Bay Coalition’s website.

    • Located off of Route 88.

    • No place to park.

  • Head Landing (Westport). This is Westport River Watershed Alliance's headquarters. There are two launch sites, one on either side of the river. The western launch is located on Drift Road near the intersection with Old County Road. The eastern launch is located off Old County Road, behind Osprey Sea Kayak Adventures.

    • At Head Landing, there are 27 parking spots.

    • On the opposite side of the river there is street parking on Drift Road​.

Kayak, canoe, and stand up paddleboard rental locations:

  • Osprey Sea and Surf Adventures (Westport). This store is located at the Head of the East Branch of the Westport River. They specialize in kayaking instruction, tours, rentals, sales & repairs. For rental info, click here.

    • ​489 Old County Rd.

  • Carey’s Boat Yard (Westport). For information, click here to check out their Facebook.

    • 504 River Rd​.

    • Located on River Road by the West Branch of the Westport River.

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Boating & Sailing

 

We have no information for this activity; please contact us if you have any information we should include here.

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Fishing

 

Fishing is best down by the southern ends of both branches (east and west), by the harbor, or at Route 88 bridge by Horseback Beach State Reservation.

Multiple locations are closed to shellfishing due to harmful bacteria levels. Check the posted signs on the
River for shellfish conditions or contact the Westport Shellfish Wharfinger.