Canoeing & Kayaking
The area boasts one of the largest and most important swamps in the Northeast: The Great Swamp which can be enjoyed from canoe or kayak (click here for some of Bill Owens' great pictures of the Swamp). In addition, just over the state line in Kent one can find the popular Bulls Bridge with class 3-5 rapids that can make for a fun kayak run and the placid Housatonic perfect for a canoe or just a float!
The Great Swamp
The 6,000 acre Great Swamp is an ecological treasure nestled in the rapidly developing southern Harlem Valley. Interestingly, it has both a north flow and a south flow, totaling about 20 miles, with Pawling being the divide. To the north, the Swamp River flows into the Ten Mile River in the Dover area, which in turn joins the Housatonic River in Connecticut.
Public access is available at the Outdoor Education parking lot across from the Green Chimney's School. From here paddle upstream a mile or two and back, an easy 2-3 hour trip. Another access point is at the Town of Patterson Environmmental Park. A longer outing and a bit more difficult depending upon water levels, there currently is at least one portage around some downed trees near Route 22. This one way trip usually takes 4+ hours and you'll need a shuttle vehicle at the take out at Green Chimney's.
Friends of the Great Swamp
The Housatonic & Bull's Bridge
Located in the hills of northwestern Connecticut, Bulls Bridge on the Housatonic River holds some of the most challenging rapids and the most beautiful scenery in the state. Putting in under a covered bridge just downstream of a class V cataract, You'll quickly enter the flume where the water races around a sharp bend and over a seven-foot ledge, emerging as froth and waves below. S-turn is next with a tight move over a ledge, which is immediately followed by Pencil Sharpener where grabby holes reach for the boat. Below, easier rapids lead to Powerhouse hole and the takeout rapid. After lunch next to the covered bridge at the put-in, you'll challenge the run for the second time, perfecting lines for the ultimate spring whitewater experience.
Above Bulls Bridge one can find several miles of Housatonic flatwater for a more relaxed paddle.
paddling guides for the housatonic river