My wife and I live near the Willimantic River, and have canoed it several times. We just purchased kayaks, as the kids have turned into young men, and the canoe won't hold us all. There is also a boredom factor, the passengers in our Disco 174 would start bothering each other, and us. The solution was several kayaks. For the river play we use an Old Town Loon 100, and a Wilderness Systems Rascal, both short and stable. We've done it in the canoe also.
The River is fast and rocky. It is about 14 miles long, and the last mile is behind Eagleville Dam in Mansfield. The time for the trip is about 3-4 hours. Beginners will love the low water trip. High water is very interesting. House sized boulders, blow-downs, sharp corners and overhanging trees which are no problem when the water is near the 2 foot gage ( on a bridge abutment in Mansfield Ct. on Merrow Road become huge when the water is above the 3 foot mark.
I thoroughly enjoy seeing cows, geese, an occasional rail, osprey or heron, and the idyllic countryside at low water, and the thrill of boulder dodging at high water.
Stafford and Willimantic both have restaurants and other accommodations. There are many other paddling destinations nearby. Mansfield Reservoir, Shetucket River.
Launch either at Ct. route 32 near Stafford, Ct, or Nye Holman State Park on Rt 74 in West Willington, Ct. Take out at Eagleville Dam on CT route 275 in Coventry Ct. Total miles either 14 or 10.
Resources: Paddling Southern New England
: Ken Weber.
River/Creek (Up to Class II)