Housatonic River Reach 5

Last Updated: 8/2017
Skill Level:            Class 1
Estimated Time:    2 hours
Distance:               5.1 miles
USGS Map: Pittsfield East, MA and Stockbridge, MA (7.5’x15’)
 New Lenox Road to Lenoxdale Footbridge
            The Housatonic River winds with head waters as far north as southern Vermont, northern Berkshire County and the city of Pittsfield on its way to Connecticut and eventually to Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean.
             This section of the Housatonic River, from Canoe Meadows all the way to the dam in Lenoxdale, is very flat and meanders through fields.  There are many views of October Mountain State Forest to the east. Looking behind to the north, you may get a glimpse of Mount Greylock, the highest peak in Massachusetts.
New Lenox Road to Woods Pond
          The put-in is easy though it can be muddy in the spring.  After launching, the water is flat but moving.  You will have Canoe Meadows on your right and marsh and fields on your left.  After several turns you may see a small dirt road on your left and the rising forest that is the largest state forest in Massachusetts October Mountain.  The river continues it’s meandering for several miles.
Woods Pond to Take-out
            After about 3.5 miles, the river widens appreciably.  Another half mile and you begin entering Woods Pond.  If you want the ride to last, then head to the east following the shore. Otherwise, go straight across until you reach the foot bridge at the take-out. Take out is easy and safe just past the bridge on your right above the Lenoxdale dam.
New Lenox Road, Canoe Meadows - Mile 133.9
Position: 42-23.62 N 73-14.55 W
Boat Launch: 
There is a small brown state canoe access sign that marks the launch just before the river.  This is a car top launch off a gravel parking area.  Remember that it can be partially flooded in high spring waters.
Nearest Launch Address:  
298 New Lenox Rd, Lenox, MA 01240
Put-In Directions (9.1 miles, 15 minutes):
From Exit 2 of the Massachusetts Turnpike (Rt. 90)
  1. At the end of the ramp turn right at the stoplight onto Route 20 West.
  2. Follow Route 20 West through Lee, Lenox and into Pittsfield.
  3. At mile 7.6, at stop light, turn right onto New Lenox Rd. 
  4. At mile 9.1, arrive at launch on right just before the bridge over the river.​
If this large parking area gets full, there is a second one nearby.
Lenoxdale Footbridge - Mile 128.5
Position: 42-20.98 N 73-14.63 W
Boat Launch:
Car top launch only on grassy area next to the footbridge. Only roadside parking is available.
Nearest Launch Address:
524 Housatonic St, Lenox, MA 01240
Put-In Directions (4.5 miles, 10 minutes):
From Exit 2 of the Massachusetts Turnpike (Rt. 90):
  1. At the end of the ramp turn right at the stoplight onto Route 20 West.
  2. After the tollbooths, turn right at the stoplight onto Route 20 West.
  3. Follow Route 20 West, Housatonic Street, toward the center of Lee.
  4. At mile 0.7, Route 20 turns right onto Main Street.
  5. At mile 1.1, Route 20 goes left and you will turn right  onto Center Street.
  6. At mile 1.4 miles, go slight left onto Columbia Street.
  7. At mile 3.1, cross the river and turn right onto Crystal Street in Lenoxdale.
  8. At mile 4.4, turn right onto Housatonic Street.
  9. Go to the end where the footbridge is and unload your car top boat. The only parking is roadside.​​
Lenoxdale Footbridge with the launch trail just before the bridge.
A very impressive footbridge just above the dam where the river exits.
The town of Lenox put in an excellent launch dock.
October Mountain State Forest
           If you’re looking for a secluded place to camp, hike, mountain bike, snowshoe, Cross Country Ski then this might be the best spot in Massachusetts. At over 16,000 acres, October Mountain in the Largest State Forest in Massachusetts, and includes parts of the towns of Lee, Lenox, Washington and Becket. The 50 campsites are clustered in the southwest corner.  There are many trails traversing the Park, and The Appalachian Trail cuts through it.​

For more information visit the website:
October Mountain State Forest
Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary
           Canoe Meadows in Pittsfield features 262 acres of fields, wetlands, woods, and croplands bordered by the wildlife-rich Housatonic River. The sanctuary has three miles of nature trails and a small observation building overlooking a beaver wetland.
        The sanctuary is located just one mile from the center of Pittsfield and attracts a variety of birds such as bobolinks, ospreys, and great blue herons at different times of year. Three miles of trails wind through the sanctuary’s scenic woods, fields, and wetlands, and along the edge of the Housatonic River. Keep your eyes open for signs of beavers, otters, and wild turkeys while exploring Canoe Meadows. Programs are offered at the sanctuary through the Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Lenox.
Canoe Meadows
Woods Pond
         During much of the past 50 years, the General Electric plant on the north side of Pittsfield, adjacent to the river, produced transformers. A byproduct of the manufacture of the inert plastics required for the production of the transformers was about 39,000 pounds of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. The GE facility released the PCB contaminated wastewater into Silver Pond and the Housatonic River. Although the factory has long been closed, the PCBs still remain in the riverbed sediment for most of the river's downstream expanse within Massachusetts from the plant in Pittsfield to Woods Pond in Lenox. (The Visualization of PCB Contamination in the Housatonic River Sediment by Lee R. Minardi, Damian R. Siebert, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering ,Tufts University)
              According to the human risk study, eating contaminated Housatonic fish continues to be the main health risk to people. Since 1977, the state of Connecticut has issued health advisories (aimed particularly at pregnant women and young children) warning of eating fish from the river. In Massachusetts, the health advisory extends to eating frogs, turtles and waterfowl such as ducks or geese. The EPA found a high risk of eating fish along the Housatonic anywhere from Pittsfield to Lake Zoar, Conn. The agency also found that toxic levels in waterfowl were above safe levels. In the ecology assessment, the EPA found high risk to insects like dragonflies that live on river sediment, frogs, salamanders and fish-eating animals such as mink, otter, red fox and osprey. (Valley Advocate “PCB Mess Flows South” - August 21, 2003)