Upper Housatonic

A self-supported trip created by FLXpaddler

Trip Overview

Put in @ Fred Gardner River Park, Pittsfield (Note: City of Pittsfield requires you to register your trip and display registration in dash of parked car

Take out @ Mill street, about 1 river mile south of Woods Pond

Duration: 4.5-5 hours, with New Lenox Road as mid-point

The Housatonic Valley Association has nice literature on paddling opportunities on the Housatonic, including this stretch.


The info does not recommend paddling below 100 cfs, but at almost half of that (55 at Coltsville gauge), I had no trouble on this trip. There were many obstacles, especially in the more narrow upper stretches, but none that forced me to get out of the boat. The river has multiple transitions from the forest to open meadows during this section, making the paddling interesting and the nature viewing varied. On this September day, I saw multiple mergansers and mallards, a pileated woodpecker, and glided under the canopies of some impressively large silver maple, hemlock, white pine, and even a few bur oaks.

As the river widened upstream of the Woods Pond Dam, the wind become more of a challenge on the open water and progress was slow against the head wind. I portaged around the dam below Woods Pond. The stretch from there to Mill Road was quick with class I/II rapids. At Mill Road, the rapids get more serious. This was my stopping point (not an official access to river), but I would not have attempted them in my basic, sit-in kayak. The Paddlers Guide does not recommend this section at low water, and I would agree.

Safety Notes

Downstream of Wood Ponds, the river becomes more lively and should only be attempted by experienced paddlers.


55 cfs @ Coltsville. Low water, but still navigable.


Portage Notes

trail on right side of dam. If you do not put in directly below dam, river access is difficult until next bridge.

Trip Details

  • Trip Dates: 9/21/2021-7/13/2024
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Number of Portages: 1

Trip Location