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Connecticut River Paddlers' Trail

The Connecticut River Paddlers’ Trail is a series of primitive campsites and river access points spanning 400 miles from the river’s headwaters to the Long Island Sound. A group of partner organizations collaborate on developing and stewarding the trail. Since 2009, the Vermont River Conservancy has taken a leadership role in facilitating this collaborative effort. Please visit www.connecticutriverpaddlerstrail.org for more information about the current status of the trail and for more information for visitors.
Trail Activity
Length
276.2 miles, One Way
Difficulty
Easy, Moderate, Advanced, Strenuous
Towns
Barnet (VT), Bath (NH), Bloomfield (VT), Bradford (VT), Brattleboro (VT), Brunswick (VT), Canaan (VT), Charlestown (NH), Chesterfield (NH), Claremont (NH), Clarksville (NH), Colebrook (NH), Columbia (NH), Concord (VT), Cornish (NH), Dalton (NH), Dummerston (VT), Fairlee (VT), Guildhall (VT), Hanover (NH), Hartford (VT), Hartland (VT), Haverhill (NH), Hinsdale (NH), Lancaster (NH), Lebanon (NH), Lemington (VT), Littleton (NH), Lunenburg (VT), Lyme (NH), Maidstone (VT), Monroe (NH), Newbury (VT), Northumberland (NH), Norwich (VT), Orford (NH), Piermont (NH), Pittsburg (NH), Plainfield (NH), Putney (VT), Rockingham (VT), Ryegate (VT), Springfield (VT), Stewartstown (NH), Stratford (NH), Thetford (VT), Vernon (VT), Walpole (NH), Waterford (VT), Weathersfield (VT), Westminster (VT), Westmoreland (NH), Windsor (VT)
Surface
River/Stream, Lake/Pond
Pets
Permitted on leash
Fees
No

Description

New England's longest waterway, the Connecticut River, provides over four hundred miles of canoe and kayak exploration. With its consistently navigable waters, few portages or difficult rapids, and a rich and varied landscape, the Connecticut River provides a unique opportunity to paddle through the heart of New England.

The Connecticut River Paddlers' Trail is a series of primitive campsites and river access points spanning from the river's headwaters south to Long Island Sound. While most of the river shore is privately owned, a number of generous landowners have agreed to host the public at primitive campsites on their land.

In the early 1990s, the Upper Valley Land Trust was instrumental in establishing formal river campsites in Vermont and New Hampshire. Since their initial effort, many others have developed additional campsites and completed access improvement projects in the upper watershed. The Friends of the Connecticut River Paddlers' Trail, a collaborative of partner organizations and community members formed in 2009 to work together in trail planning and development, building and maintaining campsites, improving access points and portage trails, and disseminating information to visitors. The Vermont River Conservancy currently coordinates this collaborative effort in VT and NH.

In 2012, through the leadership of the Appalachian Mountain Club, the Trust For Public Land, and the Silvio Conte Fish and Wildlife Refuge, an initiative to expand the trail south into Massachusetts and Connecticut was launched and a "southern chapter" was formed. The primary goal of this new partnership is to close the gaps in primitive campsite availability, focusing on the 85 mile stretch where no official campsites are available to the public.

If you'd like to support this work, join the Friends of the Paddlers' Trail today!

Purchase the official Map and Guide (VT and NH), and visit the Connecticut River Paddlers’ Trail website to learn more!

River Etiquette

The future of the Paddlers’ Trail depends on good river etiquette and campsite stewardship. While most of the river shore is privately-owned, a number of generous landowners have agreed to host the public at primitive campsites on their land. Before heading out on the water, please review the trail’s paddler etiquette guidelines posted on the website and at many of the campsites. If you witness users disrespectful of these guidelines, please contact the appropriate site steward. Thank you!

Other Information

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How do I get a map?
A Map which covers New Hampshire and Vermont, can be ordered online, at many local outdoor retailers, or by calling the NorthWoods Stewardship Center at 802-723-6551. The Connecticut River Watershed Council's Boating guide is the best printed reference for the entire river.

Can I make a reservation?

    • Vermont and New Hampshire: Currently there is no reservation system in place for the primitive campsites, except at Vermont's Wilgus State Park (802) 674-5422. All of the other campsites are currently available to paddlers on the river without charge or advance reservation. Some campsites might be closed due to maintenance, abuse from users, or for the winter. Before embarking on your trip, it is best to check the campsite status page at www.connecticutriverpaddlerstrail.org.
    • Massachusett and Connecticut: Yes. Reservations are required for all existing sites in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

How big are the campsites? How many people can stay at the campsites?
Generally, the maximum group size at a river campsite is twelve people or 3 tents. However, many campsites are only suited for smaller groups. Check the list of campsites as you plan your trip. Please limit your stay to no more than two nights per site. If the campsite is full and you must find another place to camp for the night, request permission from the landowner. Parties of 10 or less will avoid special use permit requirements from the State of VT.

Is the trail complete?
No. Currently there is an 85 mile gap in campsites between Gill, MA, and Cromwell, Connecticut. Trail partners are working to develop new campsites to close this gap. Help support this effort!

Who takes care of the campsites?
Each campsite, access point, and portage trail has a designated site steward charged with annual maintenance. Many organizations rely on volunteer site adopters to complete annual monitoring and maintenance tasks.

If you still have questions after visiting Trail Finder and the Connecticut River Paddler's Trail website, please send an e-mail to info@connecticutriverpaddlerstrail.org

Trail Manager

Visit Connecticut River Paddlers' Trail or Vermont River Conservancy online for more information or contact:

Vermont River Conservancy

Vermont River Conservancy
29 Main Street, Suite 11
Montpelier, Vermont 05602
noah@vermontriverconservancy.org
View website

Trail Tips

Leave What You Find
Leave the trail work to the pros: they will add or remove blazes, cairns (stone trail markers), structures, and trail improvements as deemed necessary.
Legend
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Trailhead Information

Connecticut River access points within the states of VT and NH are depicted on Trail Finder's interactive map; access points have parking available.

If you are planning to head out on the river, purchase the official waterproof Map and Guide.

Click on a parking icon to get custom directions
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Trail Alerts

Safety
Be a Safe and Respectful Paddler
Paddling conditions will vary according to the weather and season, so always exercise caution and always wear a lifejacket. With good judgment and proper equipment, the risk associated with paddling can me minimized. Respect the natural world and the rights of landowners, and be considerate of other outdoor enthusiasts. Paddlers should seek to avoid causing erosion, trampling vegetation, disturbing wildlife, and harming water quality.
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