birchbark oldie     North Branch Rusagonis

The Rusagonis is a tributary of the Oromocto, and its north branch skirts the southern limits of New Maryland, a bedroom community outside Fredericton on Highway 101, the extension of Regent Street. It's best known for the picturesque covered bridge that spans the waters just downstream from the confluence of the North and South Branches.

Dino and I loaded up early one May morning on our ritual Tim Hortons and headed out through New Maryland. It was strange arriving at the put-in to our stream with our morning coffee still warm. Usually I have to drive an hour or so to make it to the head of my target river.

Nanook and Dino
Sammy Solo and the author ham it up.

We turned right on the Phillips Road, past the white church on the stream's bank, and cruised up to the small bridge over the stream at Charters Settlement. We almost started there, but the water looked a little low and the alders were crossing each other from the opposite sides of the stream.

So we chose a farmer's field about half a kilometer from the church, and hauled our boats over the even ground, through a ribbon of alders and set them just out of sight from the road and the stream.

The shuttle took all of half an hour, maybe less, to make the 10k round trip to the covered bridge and back with the two cars.

I'll let the pictures tell the story. Basically, the stream was only a few metres wide at the put-in, and there were a few spots on the run to the Highway 101 bridge that required a razor-sharp turn around a rock, followed immediately by a quick duck under a tree jutting from the bank. I feel it would be wiser to put in at the bridge over the river on the road leading to Covered Bridge Estates.

Often, there was room only for the boat, and we could reach out with our paddles and touch either bank at will. But there were no branches across the stream, nor beaver dams. The stream widened appreciably just above Covered Bridge Estates, where the Nasonworth Stream joined, and took on the familiar aspect of the wide meadow stream.

North Rusagonis
The stream opens up to a quiet wooded glen
after the Nasonworth Stream joins above Covered Bridge Estates.

We each ran the stream solo in our own boat. Although the Rusagonis could be run two persons to a boat, I feel such small streams lend themselves more to a solo paddler. Two people would get into each other's way on such a narrow, intimate stream.

On one river bend, above Nasonworth, a small meadow opened along the stream on the right bank, up about a metre or so from the water, with just enough room to pitch a tent and build a cozy fire. Truly idyllic. I can't see anyone actually tenting out overnight on such a short stream, but hey, I've lived a sheltered life, I guess.

Idyllic warm weather on the Rusagonis.

After the stream runs under the bridge at Covered Bridge Estates, it enters a secluded wooded area, and one would not suspect that suburbia lurked just beyond the treetops. A pair of eagles hovered and dipped above the trees on the left bank, in elegant synchronization. The small heads of beavers broke the water, seemingly oblivious to us as we glided past.

There are no rapids on this stream, yet the current is quick and continuous. Some corners offer a quick glide, but there were no sharp rocks to fend with of any account.

In the last few kilometres, the stream runs along the back yards of the community of Rusagonis.
pool (58K)
In many places, the stream opens up to wide pools,
ledge (66K)
then runs to easy quickwaters around a turn.

We had planned to run both branches of the Rusagonis that day. The South Branch runs a steeper, parallel course to the covered bridge, and rumor has it there are spots near the confluence that can fill your boat, as well as the odd fallen tree. But it was nearing late afternoon when we came to the covered bridge. We decided to shelf our run down the South Branch for the late summer or fall, and trust our fate to the rain gods.

The South Branch is larger, longer and steeper than the North Branch.

Now that I have paddled this small stream close to home, I feel I've come full circle. I've spent years hunting the big elusive rivers in all corners of the province, the party rivers, the isolated rock-choked canyon streams, and the salmon rivers lined with opulent lodges.

I've always wanted to pose in my boat while making a corny cross-bow draw. Now, I feel fulfilled.

And now I'm back exploring the tiny creeks and backyard brooks closer to home that I first ventured down when I was a callow youth. Except that now, it's even more fun.

This is the covered bridge that marks the takeout at the village of Rusagonis.
routemap (94K)
Here's a map showing recommended put-in and take-out on the North Rusagonis.

Here's a trip report from Carm:

I ran the North Rusagonis this afternoon and a widowmaker didn't cause any deaths, but killed my pride...

I can't remember exactly where the widowmaker was. Remember it was beside a large field with a deer laughing at me:-) We started at Charter's Settlement and water was lower than what I expected for this time of year, didn't have to get out and push but definitely scratchy. So many alders and turns that I wouldn't start a newbie there. If you put in lower you'll be fine, avoid the alders and widowmaker. Good thing about widowmaker water was only waist high, so no dangers...
  Date: April 26, gauge reading: 1.4 at Tracy.

See a slideshow of our September 2013 trip on the North Rusagonis here.

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