One week on the Connecticut River


I think to take a vacation, take my wife and our boats drive to Vermont and paddle the Connecticut River down to Connecticut.

Does anybody done this?

Is there anything that should stop me and I do not know about? (dams, rapids, etc)

Is it a beatiful river? Does it worth to paddle it?

Can anybody reccomend another river in New England long enough for 4-7 days trip?

Thank you

The Connecticut

– Last Updated: Sep-01-04 2:21 PM EST –


I have paddled several miles on the upper Connecticut, and seen most of the rest of it as I grew up in the area.
You will want to take a look at this book:

River Days: Exploring the Connecticut River from Source to Sea, by Michael Tougias, 2001. In a series of journeys, the author paddled the length of the Connecticut, from the Connecticut Lakes in northern New Hampshire down to Long Island Sound. Tidbits about human and natural history are deftly woven into the trip narrative. 176 pp. 6" x 9".
Item #PAG20: $14.95

While it will give you a good idea of what to expect, it isn't really a day by day guide. This map is good for campsites and other features along the Massachusetts section:

Connecticut River Guide in Massachusetts, by New England Cartographics, 1991. Color, two-sided paper map shows the MA portion of Connecticut River in 4 sections. Info on access points, boating regulations, public lands. A useful map for canoeists and other river recreationists. Folded to 6 5/8” x 8 ¼”.
Item #PAG13: $5.95

The best guide to the NH/VT section is this:

AMC River Guide - New Hampshire/Vermont, 3rd Edition, 2002. Newly revised edition overs 2,500 miles of VT and NH rivers. Watersheds include Memphremagog, Champlain, Hudson, Upper Connecticut, Merrimack, Piscataqua, Saco and Androscoggin. 308 pp, 5" X 7".
Item #PAG01: $14.95

All of these books can be found at:

Now, the Connecticut is fairly well dammed, and as a result fairly flat. Wind is quite often more of a factor in your progress than is current. If you are mainly looking for flat water paddling, this would be a good choice. The riverside scenery in NH/VT will range from woods, to farmland, to small villages, to mills and other old industrial relics. The AMC guide will tell you where the dams and portages are, but won't help much with campsites.

Another choice, a little more out of the way, might be the Mississquoi, in Northern Vermont. It is covered in the AMC Guide. You could start around North Troy and go up into Canada briefly. I have paddled two days UP the Mississquoi, from Lake Champlain.

For Wilderness multiday trips in New England, people generally consider the Allagash (Maine) first. It has some Class 2 whitewater. The nearby St. John River is less used, and more challenging, up to Class 3 I believe.

Does that give you a place to start? If you let us know what sort of water (flat or whitewater) and scenery (villages or forest) you are looking for, that might help to focus the suggestions.

Ledyard Canoe Club
Students at Dartmouth College have been doing this for years. Start at Hanover, NH and “Paddle to the Sea”. I would think some at the Ledyard Canoe Club at Dartmouth could give you more information and suggestions for your own trip.

ct. river
Have paddled entire river in Mass. and some in VT. Some campsites are available in islands in Mass, but be careful of restricts due to nesting bald eagles north of Sunderland. Best to get a guide as suggested and enjoy.

CT River is my stomping ground
It would not be practical to paddle the entire CT river into CT. I have done the CT River from north of Sunderland to CT. Problem is there is a big damn and some rocky areas near Holyoke MA. Also there is a damn north of Sunderland, (Montague I think).

The river has some nice spots in Sunderland (was there today) and Northampton. Depending on when you go there can be TONS of boat traffic between Northampton (Sportsmans Marina) and Easthampton (Oxbox Marina). As mentioned above one of the islands (3rd Island) is currnetly closed off due to the nesting of the bald eagles.

One other word on the river. The streatch between Holyoke and Springfield is not very clean. In particular when the river runs through Springfield it is an very urban section. You can see shopping carts and car parts in the water. In addition several homeless people on the riverbank. Not the best area.

Somebody (I think it was in the 80’s) made a birch bark canoe, paddled the river from its’ orgion at the Connecticut Lakes at the top of N.H. to its’ end in the Long island Sound while making a movie of his experience. I saw it on PBS once. If my memory serves me well (it doesn’t always) the trip was also featured in a National Geographic article as well.

Birchbark canoe
The guy was Jim Dina, and the articles he wrote were called “The voyage of the Ant”, which was the name of his boat. I remember reading his journal excerpts in a local newspaper when he did it. Fun reading!

I’ve done the river from Vernon, VT to Turners Falls, MA, Sunderland to Northampton, and from the Enfield rapids to the mouth in CT. Best sections are Vernon to Turners, and Gillette Castle to LI Sound that I’ve done.


Here’s an easy 3 to 4 day trip…
…that could easily be extended.

I Paddled the 50+ mile section from East Ryegate, VT to the Wilder Dam in Hanover, NH with my girlfriend in October of 2003 on a 4 day trip (included 2 half days). If you can deal with the close proximity of roads to the river, this can be a nice little trip with excellent views of the Green Mountains from the valley. Better yet, go during the fall foliage season as we did.

The first 14 miles had good current but the last 37 miles through Wilder L was all flatwater. Campsites were somewhat scarce and were managed by various groups, including the UVLT. We camped in the edge of a NH cornfield, an island designated site and Pine Park (owned by the Dartmouth College Alumni Association). Near Hanover, we saw a number of Dartmouth College crew team scull boats practicing which was pretty cool.

Don’t make the mistake of hitching on the I-91 interstate highway as I did!

Also, if you’re into day trips, there’s lots you can do around the Connecticut Lakes. We paddled Second Connecticut Lake and explored Scotts Brook working our way up until we got close to Scotts Bog before running out of water. Scotts Bog is very pretty, as is the East Inlet Wildlife Management Area.


Connecticut Access Guide
I was websurfing and found a site that offered an access guide for the Connecticut River. It came in the post mail and included a couple of maps as well as suggested trips, launch sites and a little info on the natural history. ALL FOR FREE!!! Wonderful!

Here’s some info:

But try this email and see if they’ll send you info.

Ask for the types of info I mentioned.

BTW, don’t forget the Thimble Islands not too far from New Haven. I tried it once and it was pretty scenic despite the grey, windy day and rain. All of which tapered off as we returned back to the cars. Once we loaded up the kayaks even the drizzle stopped and the sun came out. Oh well, a reason to go back.

Happy kayaking!


CT coast
I just got back from an 8 day paddle along the CT coast from Manhattan to the CT River. Our last 2 nights were spent about 12 miles up the river around Selden Neck. It was a beautiful trip and we had no problems finding campsites along the way at various islands. Definitely paddle to the Thimbles if you get as far south as the mouth of the river. What an amazing area!

I’m hoping to rent a car and drive out to the CT river to get a chance to see some areas north of where we were during the fall foliage. We had to come back to work…sob.



There is a trail
I paddle the CT River in NE VT often ( I live here). The paddling from Guildhall to Hanover is great. There are primitive campsites along the way. There is an non-profit the set all of this up and I can’t think of the name (google on) I just know where they are from word of mouth. I think you need to adjust your time table as there are still plenty of damns and you might have to portage often. My favorite sections are from the cover bridge in Gilman VT to Mc Indoes Falls VT.


Connecticut River trip documentary
There was also a documentary on a birchbark canoe trip along the length of the Connecticut River done by Robert Perkins and aired on PBS in the mid 90s. It is a great movie and available for purchase from a number of sources. It gives you a good sense of the river and its surroundings. Interesting musings from Perkins as well.

My favorite section
of the Ct. River is Woodsville, NH to Bradford, Vt. You can go all the way through to Hanover, NH before you hit a dam. Great camping spots in the section I love. Islands. Small stream to explore. If you want more detail email me.

hey Bgb backus
I tried to email the address you left and ask for some info on the CT river. All they did for me was send me a web address for thier site, oh well, I tried.

Web site for Connecticut River
Just found a site called It has information regarding kayaking/conoeing, along with all the maps from the start of the river near the Canadian border through all the sections along the VT/NH border and into MA.

I could be very helpful…