Hackensack River Canoe & Kayak Club

paddling for over a third of a century

Hosatonic below West CornwallHousatonic River
by Bob Rancan

Saturday, May 15, 2021

I posted a trip for the mighty Housatonic on May 15th on the Club website on May 7th. After I posted I took a look at USGS gauges for the river at Gaylordsville and Falls Village, CT. Since Gaylordsville is downstream and picks up some additional flow from tributaries such as the Ten Mile River, I find the Falls Village gauge (below the power dam) to be a better barometer for the section of the river we'd be doing. I was taken aback when I saw a reading of 4,590 cfs (cubic feet per second). We hadn't had much rain in North Jersey this month but the watershed gathers its flow from the Berkshires way up in Massachusetts so I guess they had a lot of wet weather in western New England.

When we last visited the Housatonic in May of 2019, we had a nice spring level of over 1,200 cfs and I'm always hopeful we'll find a least 1,000 cfs. Years ago, during my early days in the Club, we came up after several days of heavy rain and ran it at around 3,400 cfs, about the highest I would prefer to do it with a group. There wasn't much rain forecast for the following week so I resolved to keep watching the gauge. The flow did dip below 3,200 by Sunday morning, May 9th and continued a slow but steady decline. By midweek it was still over 2,500. Round midnight Friday it got to 1,800 and I knew we'd have a fine spring level for Saturday, appropriate for a mixed flotilla of boats.

I checked before I left home and it was indeed down to 1,550 cfs and by the time of our launch, around 1,530. Perfect conditions...big waves...perfect day....sunny but not too hot. A Bald Eagle, Pileated Woodpecker, Baltimore Oriole, pairs of Common Mergansers and lots and lots of Yellow Warblers and American Redstarts and Red Wing Blackbirds.

Thanks to Al Grenley, Sumonnat Kongchatree, Mark Grossmann, Mariane Phelan, Alex Trotta, Michael Capizzi and especially our new member from Connecticut, Paul Danielewicz, who invited that veteran paddler Erik Ekilson to come down from Rhode Island with his fine camera.

Additional Photos by Erik Ekilson:


Housatonic ledges

Housatonic Swifts Bridge

Swifts Bridge

Trillium on AT

West Cornwall Bridge