Housatonic River Reach 14

Last Updated: 3/2018
Great Falls Dam to Housatonic Meadows State Park
        This is probably the most popular reach on the Housatonic River.  The reason is that Clark Outdoors provides trips down this section throughout the summer months.
         We have done this reach with as many as 10 families.  If everyone has some paddling experience, then even small children can ride along easily.  I have fond memories of traveling and playing at stops with my children.  Too bad they grow up!  I miss all that fun.
            REMINDER: Make sure everything is tied in so if you turn over you don't spend an hour searching down stream for missing items.
         The Power Company First Light has provided a small park with a very large launch area directly across from the power plant.  There are toilets to use before launching which is always nice.  A popular time to launch is just after the morning release for power.  Call the resource phone at 888-417-4837 for times.
         After launching (78.9), be immediately ready to paddle because there is a short stretch of Class 2 about 200 feet long.  It gets you in the right alert mode.  The rest of the paddle to the Route 7 bridge (76.9) is very flat.  
           The next 1.5 miles is completely flat and then (75.5) you begin to get short sections with a mix of rocks and quick water.
           REMINDER: The outside of a turn is usually deeper.  Also if you see a smooth V-shape ahead then head down the middle of it for the best ride.  
         These occasional sections of quick water and rocks make the ride more interesting.  There are very long breaks between them to be lazy and maybe spray a friend in another boat with water.
         Cornwall Covered Bridge (72.0) is a good place for a break.  Pull over on the left side of the river above the bridge and before the class 2 water.  You have just finished 60% having now paddled 6.9 miles and spent just over 2 hours in your boat.  Depending on the time of day, there is a cafe up the street where you can sit and enjoy the weather.
          When leaving the covered bridge area you have two choices.  Carry your boat under the side of the bridge and launch in smoother water or paddle up stream a little so you can cross over to the right side and run the quick water where it is deeper.  This quick water is only 300 feet or so long and then it is flat again.
          At about mile 71, Clark Outdoors will be on your right along Route 7.  You should remember this if you are using their boats.
        At mile 69.3 you will see a Housatonic Meadows Campground on your right.  This should remember you are nearing the end of your paddle.  Many paddlers will make a weekend of it and camp out here along the river. 
       You only have 1.4 miles to go with Bread Loaf Mountain directly ahead.  After the campground the river turns left with Route 7 close to the river on your right.  Again the river turns left and away from Route 7.  The take out is just as the river turns right.
         WARNING: If you reach the Cornwall Road Bridge you have gone too far.  Paddle upstream to the take-out.​
      Skill Level:            Class 1 & 2 in small sections
      Estimated Time:    4.0 hours
      Distance:               11.5 miles
      USGS Map:  South Caanan, CT and Cornwall, CT (7.5’x15’)
Falls Village below Great Falls Dam Put-In - 78.9
Position: 41-57.43 N 73-22.20 W
Boat Launch:
Popular launch site by outfitters and individuals provided by the power company.  Portable Toilets available.
Nearest Address: 
230 Dugway Rd, Falls Village, CT 06031
Put-In Directions ( 6.7 miles, 14 minutes)
From the center of Caanan Ct at the intersection of Route 7 and Route 44.
  1. At the stop light, take Route 44 West
  2. At mile 3.0,  turn left (south) onto Housatonic River Rd.
  3. At mile 6.1, pass Great Falls Dam on your left. Continue straight.
  4. At mile 6.4, turn left onto  Falls Mountain Road.
  5. Almost immediately turn right onto Dugway Road.
  6. Turn into the first gravel road to acces the river across from the brick Power Plant building.
Power Plant directly accross from the Put-In.
​Call  888-417-4837 for water release times.
Below Great Falls Dam Put-In.  Provided by the Power Company.
Clark Outdoors
        Paddle the beautiful Housatonic River in Northwestern Connecticut.  This section is a mixture of moving flatwater and easy whitewater and is suitable for novice paddlers.  The famous Covered Bridge in West Cornwall marks the halfway point of your journey. You may want to bring a picnic lunch, and stop here or at any one of the many scenic spots along the river.
Housatonic Meadows State Park - 67.9
Position: 41-57.43 N 73-22.20 W
Boat Launch:
State Park paved boat launch. Portable Toilets available.
Nearest Address: 
230 Dugway Rd, Falls Village, CT 06031
Put-In Directions ( 16.6 miles, 22 minutes)
From the center of Caanan Ct at the intersection of Route 7 and Route 44.
  1. At the stop light, take Route 44 East/Route 7 South
  2. At mile 0.3, at the stop light, turn right on Route 7 South. (McDonalds is on one of the corners.)
  3. Travel south passing Falls Village on your left.  Eventually the river will be on your left as you travel south on Route 7.
  4. At mile 12.5 you will pass a Covered Bridge on your left.  Continue south on Route 7.
  5. At mile 16.6, turn left into Housatonic Meadows State Park.
  6. Followed the paved road to the left after the entrance and into the wooded area.  There is a paved boat launch with plenty of parking.​​
The concrete ramp is sometimes covered in mud.
Plenty of parking for vehicles.
A converted utility trailer carrys a group of boats.
The concrete ramp is sometimes covered in mud.
Housatonic Meadows State Park
        Located in the rock-strewn valley of the Housatonic River amid the rugged hills of the northwestern uplands, Housatonic Meadows is an ideal setting for a variety of outdoor recreational activities. Camping under the tall pines on the riverbank gives the overnight visitor a genuine back-to-nature feeling. The clear, cold river water also provides a fine opportunity for fly fishermen to test their skills on trout and bass. A two-mile stretch of river (including the park shore) is limited to fly fishing. In 1927 Housatonic Meadows was established as a state park.
       The Campgroud offers 61 sites in a rustic setting near the Housatonic River.  The camping season begins in mid-May and ends Columbus Day at noon. There are showers and bathrooms.  For more information try the link below:

Housatonic Meadows
Trail Map