State 28 of 50: Connecticut – Housatonic River

Lovely recovery of free-flowing beauty
Date Paddled: June 28, 2017
Nearest City: Cornwall Bridge
Put-In: Push ‘Em Up – 1/2 mile north of Covered Bridge
Take-Out: River Road/North Road AT Trailhead
Duration: 4 hours
River Miles: ~8
Shuttle: Easy shuttle with car 11 miles
Weather: Mostly sunny 73 degrees
Difficulty: Mostly quick water, class I, II
Cfs: 580cfs

It’s always a pleasure kayaking the various reaches of the Housatonic River, a 30-60 minute trip from our home in New York. On this particular paddle, we were joined by good friends, Christian and Jen.

Depending on the water levels and ambient temperatures, there are a number of runs possible starting from the dam at Falls River which has water all year, but gets iced in first, to another possible put in at the 112 bridge, steep and slippery, but doable, to the one we chose at Push’Em Up, about a half mile from the class II+ to IV rapids under Covered Bridge.  The colorful name is from the fisherman who love this spot where the big’uns get pushed up by the rapids.DSCN6492 (2)Just before the covered bridge are another set of large rapids. If you don’t want to run them, you can pull out river left. This is a play spot in the spring with a nice pull out/parking area at the end of the rapids for quick transport back up to the top. It’s filled with large boulders which makes it exciting or terrifying depending on your skill level. At 580 cfs the rapids were about a II+ so that splashing on a warmish day was very respectable. Overall, the guys in our group were dragging a bit too much for their taste while the women found it very acceptable.

Just down from the rapids, we spotted this beautiful eagle. There are nesting pairs along the river and it’s rare not to see them!DSCN6518We were also treated to a merganser family caught in an eddy. They also are residents that you can expect to see. While there is the occasional house along the river and Route 7 that runs along much of the paddle, the Housy still feels wild and free! DSCN6490 - CopyThe bridge at Route 128 in Cornwall Bridge is a favorite and not just of this paddle. It is beautifully designed and has just enough rapids to make it interesting without being too distracting!DSCN6538The Housatonic has been the recipient of mucho dinero from GE who polluted it with PCB’s.  So, while it’s not advisable to eat fish out of the river with any regularity, there are has many more access points for putting in as a result of this environmental fiasco. Like most things in life, it’s a mixed bag of cursing and blessing! One thing for sure is that the views weren’t touched and they continue to astound in their verdant beauty!DSCN6511 (2)



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