Thirty Ponds in 30 Days? Where to Paddle on the Avalon

With the increase rec kayaks and stand-up paddleboards, and rekindled interest in canoes, it seemed time to provide some
info about good places to paddle if you’re not heading to the ocean. Of course, sea kayakers can enjoy themselves here too.
So take at look at this article, and get out paddling! There are too many ponds mentioned here to include a map showing the details of each one. So this article includes a set of maps that provide the general locations of all of them, and explains where the launch is for each. It also includes a measure of the longest straight distance within each pond, so you can get a sense of how big they are in comparison with each other. (Of course, paddling around the edge would be longer than the longest distance within each, and where the shape is irregular, you can get in much more distance.) For more details, check google maps with the satellite imagery. All of the pond names are searchable in google maps.

Map 1
1. Long Pond (675 m, plus another kilometer or so round trip in the marsh): This is a gem, right within St. John’s by the MUN
campus. It is safe, with easy access from the MUN parking lot off Morrisey Road, by the Splash Facility (they seem to let
paddlers park there). You can also launch from the bank off Nagle’s Place, by the bottom of the sliding hill; parking is easy
at the Fluvarium. The pond is small, but the stream that loops through the marsh on the southwest end (toward the Health
Sciences Building) adds more distance and is a pleasure to explore. (Note that the google maps satellite imagery shows
that marsh route as feeding out of the stream that goes along Prince Philip Drive along the HSC. In fact, you can loop within
the marsh and come out where you started; that just doesn’t show in the grasses when the image was taken.)

2. Kent’s Pond (600 m): This is good place to learn, safe, shallow, and protected, with some nice mud trout. You can access it from the back parking lot at the Confederation Building. The tourists at the nearby Holiday Inn might take photos of you to send home (“look, Nan, what they do in the ponds here!”), but I’m sure you won’t mind! The College of the North Atlantic teaches its canoe courses there.

3. Kenny’s Pond (250 m): This is an easily accessible place to practice strokes, but is very small, so not much good for actual paddling. You can reach it from Tiffany Lane off Mt. Cashel Road or through the Mary Queen of Peace parking lot, where anyone can park. It’s accessible from the trail around the pond, so if you must get off the water, it’s not a problem.

4. Quidi Vidi Pond (1,450 m to a safe distance from the dam –don’t go further!): Quidi Vidi is open to paddlers on Saturday afternoons and Sundays, but not at other times because the rowers are on the water. (Slide-seat rowers are on the water Sundays as well; they have the right-of-way, so give them a
wide berth.) It can be quite windy, and make sure to stay away from the dam at the downstream (gut) end!  You can easily paddle here at night, too, since the launch is right by the parking lot and well lit. It is a fair bit bigger than Long Pond and can be a great place to practice your skills at paddling in gale force winds!

Map 2
5. Healey’s Pond (910 m): Healey’s Pond is in Rotary Sunshine Park, off Thorburn Road. You can park there and launch from the beach, or from Healey’s Pond Crescent just off Thorburn Road. It is a reasonably protected and safe pond with a nice sandy beach, and is a nice place to learn. It is surrounded by cabins, and supports several sporting events including the St. John’s Triathlon, Paddle NL’s own Skills School, and various swims.

6. Gull Pond (1,100 m): Gull Pond is also in Rotary Sunshine Park. It is a bit bigger than Healey’s Pond with a few coves and inlets that make it interesting to paddle. You can park in the lots off Bennett’s Road in the park; to launch, you need to walk your craft around 100 meters towards Thorburn Road and then head down a short trail through the woods. More easily done with two people! A hiking trail most of the way around the pond allows egress if necessary. Be careful of the rocks near the shoreline, some of them are just below the surface. Enjoy the loons that nest there (but do keep your distance, too!).

7. Hogans pond (1,250 m): This pond is accessible from Bennett’s Road or from any of the surrounding cabins if you have permission. It’s a bit bigger than Gull Pond, and nice enough, but surrounded with private cabins. While the pond is public, some
cabin-owners may complain if you come too close to their lawns. There is a small island that you could land on if you want a break.

8. Mitchells Pond North (630 m): Another pond accessed from Bennett’s Road, this one is smaller than the others. What you see from the road is pretty much it. It’s handy mostly for swimming, for building up your SUP skills, or for taking kids out in a small canoe or rec boat.

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9. Neary’s Pond (750 m): This is at the end of Neary’s Pond Road, in Portugal Cove; there’s parking and a small beach where Western Gull Road t-intersects Neary’s Pond Road. PNL uses it for club paddles occasionally.

10. Octagon Pond (1,000 m): Octagon Pond is off Topsail Road in Paradise. It’s a large pond with easy access, and is used by dragon boaters, cadets, scouts, swimming groups, and others. It’s a good pond for paddling or wind surfing, and PNL holds its Wednesday night “canoe” gatherings there from time to time. Be careful, though, of the industrial effluent weeping up from the northeast side, where there was once heavy industry; until recently swimming was discouraged because of it.

11. Topsail Pond (625 m): At the intersection of Three Island Pond Road and Topsail Pond Road, in either Paradise or Topsail,
depending on whom you ask. There’s parking and a launch spot where the two roads meet. It’s nice enough but surrounded by
homes; this isn’t nature at its finest! It can be a good place to practice, if it’s convenient for you, but sometimes is used by jet
skis and speed boats.

12. Three Island Pond (1,250 m): Continue south on Three Island Pond Road from Topsail Pond to get to this pond, which is
larger and more interesting than Topsail Pond. It has an interesting shape and several islands, so even though it is
surrounded by homes and could harbor jet skiers, it can be a quite nice place to paddle.

13. Topsail Round Pond (400 m). This very small pond is a northern extension of Three Island Pond, but you can’t paddle
from one to the other. It is accessible down a small stream from Dawes Rd or a short walk through Peter Barry Duff Memorial
Park. It’s a small but surprisingly pleasant little pond.

14. Bubble Pond (650 m): Bubble Pond is the mouth of the Manuals River, accessed from Worsley Park in Manuals. It is a
lovely place to drift around on a SUP or in a kayak or canoe, but not a good place to paddle any distance. It is quite shallow,
with a number of submerged rocks, so be careful on a SUP in particular; if you actually try to move quickly you risk getting
abruptly tossed into the water, and you will regularly run aground. Because it is so shallow, though, the water is very
warm, so it’s a lovely place to swim.

Map 4
15. Three Arm Pond (3 kms): Accessible from the eastbound lane of Route 2 (Peacekeepers’ Way); you’ll want to drive
carefully down the access to the dam. Be wary of the outflow at the north end of the pond near where you put in, it is
dangerous! This is an interesting pond where you may see the occasional loon.

16. Paddy’s Pond (2.4 kms): This pond is big enough for a sea kayak to get up to speed. While the winds could challenge
beginners, it is a nice and easily accessible place to paddle. Take the first exit heading west on the TCH from where it
crosses Route 2, and get on Paddy’s Pond Road, a service road in the narrow strip between the TCH and the pond. Drive along
the road past a ramp or two, to a right turn to the Forestry Station. There’s parking and lots of launch space there. You can
also get to Paddy’s Pond from Fowlers Road, but that route is not for a car you care about. This pond is an aerodrome for
seaplanes; you can paddle up to some that are parked there and have a good look at them. It’s also used for water bombers pickups; stay far from them if they are active! It has some interesting islands, and is home to ducks, loons, beaver, and other wildlife.

17. Thomas Pond (3.2 kms): Access this large pond from the eastbound TCH, just east of the Foxtrap Access Road. It’s big, with two wide arms, so you can get in a quite long paddle if you follow the shoreline. Because of its size, it can be quite windy, so be careful when you choose to go. And watch out for the dam and the occasional rock lurking just under the surface. This pond has a campsite where the Manuels River flows into Thomas Pond; a tree marker indicates the location. Nice, if you’re looking for a weekend escape!

18. Northern Pond (780 m): This small pond is accessible with a vehicle that can handle rough roads, via Northern Pond Road,
which runs next to the eastbound TCH in the Paddy’s Pond area. Though small, it’s a nice place with occasional moose and loon sightings, if your vehicle will get you there.

Map 5
19. Whiteway Pond (1,000 m): This pond is accessed via Bauline Line, then a slight left onto Patricks’ Path, which becomes  Whiteway Pond Road when it passes the Torbay Bypass Road. Parking is on the road, so it’s a good place to bring the family but not a good place for a group of paddlers. It has no jet skis racing around, which is always an advantage.

20. Great Pond (1,000 m): Access to this pond is from either Bauline Line or Great Pond Road in Torbay. It is a very nice pond that gives the illusion of wilderness, but the parking is along the road and quite limited. There are no motorized vessels allowed on the pond. Great Pond Road is a gravel road with difficult access, so Bauline Line may be a better bet.

21. Middle Three Island Pond, Torbay (1.5 kms): This is a great pond with two good-sized arms and a couple of islands. There are glacial erratics on the shore that you can see if you look closely. (Glacial erratics are boulders left by retreating glaciers that are of different composition from the local geology.) It’s a bit of a drive if you’re in St. John’s, but a nice place to paddle. You can put in from Middle Three Island Pond Road, about a kilometre from Bauline Line.

22. Duck Pond, Bauline (850 m). Put in from the small beach at the north end of the pond, on Bauline Line. There’s a picnic
area there, too. This pond is sort of muddy but the Community of Bauline has kept the area close to the outflow quite nice. This
is a good place for a small paddle if you are in the area.

23. Shoe Cove Pond (950 m): This pond has easy access from Shoe Cove Pond Park, on Rte 20 (Main Road) in Pouch Cove.
Last time I was there six sea kayaks were practicing. If you get tired of paddling, Pouch Cove hosts some fine hiking, with Newfoundland ponies, a few goats and at least one big friendly dog that will check you out. And you can always head down to
the ocean if you want bigger waters!

24. Fourth Pond (1,200 m): You can access this pond from Fourth Pond Road, off Main Road, in the Goulds; there is a
parking area big enough for 6 or 8 cars. It has some interesting curves and inlets, and has been known to harbour ducks, loons,
and once even moose. It is close to town and quite accessible, and is regularly used for swimming.

25. Second Pond (2.4 kms) and First Pond (900 m): Second Pond is accessed by driving 1.2 kms down Donovan’s Road from Petty Harbour Road, to a large parking lot. It’s a big pond with some inlets and marshes making it more interesting, and a few submerged rocks near the shores to watch out for on a SUP. The pond is used by jet skis, though it’s big enough that they aren’t too much of a problem. Second and First Ponds are connected to each other via a passage under the Petty Harbour Road bridge; on a SUP, you might have to sit down if the water is high! Stay away from the dam at the far (north) end of First Pond, it is dangerous.

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26. Southwest Pond (2.1 kms): This pond is off the Salmonier Line and just south of the TCH. The pond can be accessed through the Anglican Church’s Lavrock Camp and Conference Centre or from the United Church’s Burry Heights camp. Those two camps are both reached from the same access road off of Salmonier Line, 500 m southwest of the TCH; however, they are not always open to the public.

27. Peak Pond (2.75 kms) and Split-Rock Pond (2 kms): Peak Pond is accessed from the Salmonier Line, 2.2 kms southwest of the exit from the TCH. The put-in itself is about 500 m down a dirt road off the left side of Salmonier Line. The two ponds are connected at the southern end of Peak Pond and the northern end of Split Rock Pond by a 60 m canal. This is a lovely paddle in the interior of the Avalon. The two ponds have a number of campsites, so this could be nice for a weekend staycation with your kayak. There are lots of other glacial ponds in the same area; try exploring them, too, and let PNL know what you find!

Map 8
28. Lawrence Pond (900 m): The pond is 250 m south of Peacekeepers Way on Lawrence Pond Road in CBS. It has multiple public access points and is an easy place to find and to launch. It is heavily used for swimming and jet skis, and one float plane also calls it home; this can make it a quite busy place.

19. Big Otter Pond (1,000 m): This pond is in Butter Pot Park and is accessed through the park. You can launch on the pond’s
east side from a road off the park entrance, or on the northeast corner at a small beach by the campsites.30. Five Mile Pond West (1.6 kms): This pond is just south of where Witless Bay Line hits the TCH; you can access it from Witless Bay Line about 200 m east of the TCH, where there is a parking lot (often with a camper or two) and a launch site. It is shallow and enjoys little if any protection from the wind. It’s full of small islands, which makes it fun to explore. Be careful of submerged rocks, especially on SUPs or in a gel coated boat. It’s not used very much, so you may have it all to yourself. (Five Mile Pond East, which is due north of Five Mile Pond West – you go figure – also looks like a good place to paddle. Someone please check it out, and let us all know!

Alex McGruer – wait, does anyone need to be told who Alex McGruer is? Well, okay. Alex McGruer has been paddling kayaks and canoes forever, along with his delightful wife Cecilia and their son Sandy. He’s always willing to put any visitor or newbie (or visiting newbie) in a kayak or canoe, and particularly likes night paddles, looking for whales, and canoeing on Long Pond. When he’s not in a boat, he runs a security company (as you could tell from his ads in this magazine). Oh, and if you make plans to paddle with him, do remember that he won’t show up on time! (NB: Alex did not approve this “about the author” item.)

Editor’s note: This is just a sample of all the ponds around us – hardly surprising, giving the glacial history of Newfoundland. Some that look good on the map may be hard to access, or may be drinking water supply and therefore protected. But lots of them might be great for paddling! If you’ve explored other ponds, do write them up and get the word out. And wouldn’t it be great to turn Alex’s initial list into a more detailed catalog, stored on the Paddle NL  website? Anyone interested in taking that on?

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