Paddling the Connecticut River

Fall is the perfect time to take your kayak or canoe out for a spin on a single or multi-day trip. Paddling expert and Wilgus State Park Ranger, Eric Hanson, suggested the following trip for a 3-day, 22-mile trip down the Connecticut River that ends at Wilgus.

For this trip, these boating maps are a great resource.

Begin your trip at a car-top access launch site below the Wilder Dam in Hartford, Vermont (see map 8). This section of the river gives paddlers a feeling of privacy and seclusion as they make their way south. Notice the gentle narrowing and widening of the river, and keep an eye out for wildlife along the shore. There is also fine fishing along the 22-mile stretch, particularly small mouth bass, walleye, and trout.

Settle in for your first night at Burnaps Island Campsite in Plainfield, New Hampshire (see map 9), mile 207 of the 410-mile Connecticut River. Burnaps Island is a primitive campsite located 3 miles below the mouth of the Mascoma River and West Lebanon New Hampshire. This site is first-come first-served, free of charge, and requires no reservation. Access to the site is available from the west side of the island. Build a campfire and relax in the peace and quiet!

Continue seven miles south to the Burnham Meadow Campsite (mile 200) in Windsor, Vermont (see map 9).  This site is situated four miles below Sumner Falls. Like Burnaps Island, this is a free site that does not require a reservation. Just a 15 minute walk from the Harpoon Brewery, Burnham Meadow is the perfect stopping point for craft beer lovers. The nearby Path of Life Sculpture Garden is located directly behind the site and some of the taller sculptures can be seen from the campsite. Walk into Windsor and visit the Simon Pearce Gallery, which specializes in hand-blown glass and pottery.

The final 10-mile leg of the trip takes you under the Windsor-Cornish Bridge, the longest wooden covered bridge in North America. There are striking views of Mt. Ascutney and the idyllic landscape. When you arrive at the Wilgus State Park (mile 190) in Weathersfield, Vermont (see map 10), enjoy a hot shower, campsites (ranging from $16-$18 a night), or even a cabin (ranging from $46-$48 a night)!

Photo by Cara Herring

The Connecticut River is the longest river in New England and forms a border between Vermont and New Hampshire that spans 275 miles, two-thirds of the length of the entire river. With its slow-moving current, the Connecticut River is a favorite for individuals looking to enjoy a rejuvenating journey along the scenic waterway. The trip down the river gives paddlers the chance to camp at the many primitive campsites on both the Vermont and New Hampshire sides of the river and the opportunity to visit cool attractions along the way. Most of the primitive campsites are owned and managed by land stewardship organizations, including the Upper Valley Land Trust.

Wilgus is the only developed state park on the Connecticut River, has tent, lean-to, and group camping sites, and is in close proximity to many hiking trails and Vermont landmarks. To learn more about Wilgus State Park, visit the Vermont State Parks website


  1. Thanks, very interesting post and informative. I like it.

  2. This is really great. I like to be visiting your blog. Thanks very much for sharing all this great information here.


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