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Connecticut River in Vermont

Trip Overview

One of my husband's, Jim, and my kayaking goals is to paddle as much of the Connecticut River as we have time to this summer. We have scouted for hours looking for put-in and take-out spots by driving Vt's Rte 5 and NH Rtes 10 and 12. The Vermont side of the Connecticut River has the better sites if you can find them. I'm convinced that the Vermont natives block, tear down or don't mark boat launching sites to keep the tourists away from them, but with some topo maps and guidance from the NH/VT AMC River Guide we have been lucky to find some of them.

Today was the first hot one in quite awhile with a breeze of 5 to 10 mph. We put in about 9:30 AM. Paddling along the Connecticut River is very peaceful as there are mostly farms bordering both sides. We encountered a few fishing boats, a couple of pontoon boaters, but no other paddlers in the 7-mile stretch. There were very few stop areas as the banks on both sides were very steep and not many beach-like areas to pull ashore.

However we did make one stop that was a super surprise. We spotted a large sandy cliff with a bit of a beach so we paddled to it. We were suddenly greeted by a swarm of swallows coming out of their cliff holes. They flew all around us as we must have disturbed them. There were also dozens of large yellow and black butterflies all over the area. It was great fun watching them. Kingfishers also dwell in holes in the sand cliffs.

We also saw an eagle and some blue herons

After about a twenty-minute break we continued south. About 6 miles into our journey we came upon a beaver damn on the NH side of the river. To our surprise a beaver swam out of it and started slapping his tail hard and then diving under water and coming up some distance away. I got the bright idea to also slap my paddle on the water and the beaver would slap his tail in response. This went on for awhile to Jim's and my delight when all of a sudden another beaver came within 3 feet of my kayak and slapped his tail, splashing me in the process. It then dawned on us that they might be warning us to keep away as there may be babies in their hut. But I continued to answer their tail whack with a paddle whack and 2 more beavers joined in. They were trying to get us to paddle away from the hut, but we were so entertained by them we didn't want to leave. But, eventually we did.

That was the highlight of the trip although there were many moments of wondrous surreal events. We rounded one bend and it was 'snowing'- a bunch of willow white puffs were blowing down from the trees on us for a bit. We also found ourselves in a stretch of alien-like lily pads along one shallow part.

Before we knew it we were at our take-out spot- Herrick's Cove on the Vermont side, 7 miles south of where we had started. It is another hidden boat launch park area. No signs to it. We had spotted it while scouting on the NH side the day before. It's off a side road off of Rte 5 north of Bellow's Falls.

It was a very pleasant first trek on the Connecticut River. Our next destination is between Thetford, Vermont and Norwich, north of White River Junction.


Lots of small motels, convenience stores on both NH and VT sides.


This 7-mile stretch is off Rte 91 Springfield, VT exit onto Vt Rte 5. If coming from NH, in Charlestown, NH take RTE12 to bridge crossing Rte 11. On the Vermont side, right after the Cheshire Toll Bridge (no toll) is the boat launching park area.


We used the NH/VT Quiet Water Guide and the NH and VT Atlas & Gazetteer detailed topographical maps. You'll need them to find the launch areas.
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip