Hackensack River Canoe & Kayak Club

paddling for over a third of a century

Housatonic River
West Cornwall to North Kent, CT
by Bob Rancan

Friday, April 6, 2012

There has been almost no rain this spring. Most of our favorite spring streams are running well below their normal levels and are not runnable. So our annual getaway to the Shepaug in Connecticut had to be moved over to the larger and more reliable Housatonic. Because there is a power generation station and dam in Falls Village, the quick water section from West Cornwall’s Covered Bridge to North Kent had at least a low flow. While we paddled, the Falls Village gauge was at 2.55, 502cfs. In contrast, last Columbus Day it ran at 3.69, 1330cfs and in late April of 2011 we paddled very high water at 4.93, 2770cfs.

The challenge at low levels comes in reading the river and finding the way over the many gravel bars. It is especially difficult on a bright, sunny day with the glare on the water. Finding the right path is not made easier by the beautiful surroundings. The Litchfield Hills rise up on either side of the river, the Appalachian Trail runs part way along the right bank and the birds are abundant. We had a good look at a mature bald eagle, an osprey with its prey, many phoebes, swallows, red tail hawks, great blue herons, belted kingfishers, common mergansers and wood ducks. Although many of us got stuck, we managed the run without any incidents, a true, wonderful day on the river.

There were ten in the group, five in canoes and five in kayaks. And it was no rental fleet: there were recreational kayaks, old style white water kayaks, white water canoes, tandem canoes and even a Kevlar canoe – proving my theory that it ain’t the boat, it’s the boater that counts. Thanks to Henry D., Jim L., George C., Chris D., Mike C., Ben H., Rocco L., Jason F., and Tom Hart (especially for the photos.)