Connecticut River Camping

Jim Allenspach

Curious about Wooden Canoes
Hey, back after a couple years years in the wilderness. Would like to get some guidance on a weekend camping trip down the Connecticut ending at Enfield. 3 days total. Where's a good spot to launch, how are sites along the river, etc. Thanks.
Well, there is a put-in at Northfield, MA and just below the dam in Vernon, VT. Camping is along the river in Northfield on the east bank in a campsite provided by Northeast Electric - there used to be lean-to's, picnic tables and what-not in Northfield. The next day, you would have to take out at Barton's cove to get around the dam there and put in probably just above Sunderland. Car transportation would be required, or the you can make arrangements with the power company to convey you to the next navigable point.

In the Northampton area, there are several islands where camping is common. In South Hadley, IIRC, there is another dam which you can probably carry around. I don't know what the camping situation is from South Hadley towards Enfield, but I wouldn't be optimistic - probably guerilla camping, but I wouldn't recommend it unless someone else has specific recommendations.
Ct River

Thanks Canoez. If you know of any guide literature, that would be helpful as well. I'm thinking we might be better of doing 7 Carries. I think that's the name. The trail in upstate NY. That's pretty well documented anyhow. Planning on doing the Allagash next summer and wanted to get some river experience first, hence the Connecticut interest.
Jim, don't let me discourage you on doing some CT river trips - it is a fun place to paddle, but you generally need to go early or late in the season on most of the lower stretches to avoid powerboaters. Also, this year has been exceptionally dry in New England and many, many rivers are very low - including the Connecticut. For a guide about the river I recommend The Connecticut River Boating Guide, 3rd Edition : Source to Sea. (It has both good history and good river information.) The AMC probably has some of the most respected river guides to trips in New England. You need a variety to get all of the areas you might want to paddle.

As the Connecticut flows between Vermont and New Hampshire, there are some better opportunities to paddle. We've done the stretch from Hartland down to Wilgus state park in Ascutney - a pretty fall paddle - but be sure the water level is up. When we did this trip, the site Ranger was wonderful and helped us to shuttle paddlers and vehicles!

While the river is interrupted downstream by several dams, there is good paddling through most of the rest of the state with detours at various spots for side-trips including the meadows at Brattleboro. There is another state park in Brattleboro - Fort Dummer, but it would require some significant walking to get there from the river.

Over in Southwestern Vermont, there is also the Battenkill which runs over from New York. Some opportunity for paddling inn-to-inn there... Not shabby.

For good information on water levels, locals and is a good start.
The "Upper Valley" of the Connecticut has pretty nice opportunities. This is the area between central Vermont and NH From about Woodsville, NH downstream to Springfield, VT. I'm going to take the trip some time.

Dartmouth College, In Hanover, NH has a heritage of canoeing on the river. You might want to connect with the Ledyard Canoe Club (Affiliated with Dartmouth, open to the public, LCC has been renting canoes and kayaks for decades) Dartmouth Outing Club also supports outdoor recreation and might well have travel itineraries to suggest.

Upper Valley Land Trust supports a string of river campsites, mostly on conserved land. I believe if you contacted them someone would be happy to point you to information about these campsites and more further up and downstream.

I was out on the CT a couple of weeks ago trying out my new 12 ft Hornbeck LP up by the Bedell Bridge in Haverhill (It at least has wooden gunnels and seat back / thwart) early morning fog, bald eagle, a pair of fishermen in kayaks. Made my week!