Housatonic Quiet Water
Mileage: 17 miles to CT/MA border
Time : At Your Leisure!
Put-in and Take Out Point: Falls Village: Rte. 126 to Main St., to Water St., go past power station, cross the river, then turn right on Housatonic River Rd., and follow until you come to the landing above the power dam.
The Housatonic River carves a sinuous path through the Litchfield Hills, sweeping through rocky gorges overhung with pines and hemlocks; flowing quietly beside meadows bright with wildflowers; slipping under centuries-old covered bridges; and passing hamlets, hollows and bucolic villages nestled on its banks.
The heritage of the Litchfield Hills is intermingled with the waters of the Housatonic River, whose Indian name means "place beyond the mountains." Since colonial times, the Housatonic provided fertile flood plains for agricultural development, and today, many farms still dot its banks.
In the 19th century, the river's waterpower was harnessed and used to operate small mills and iron ore furnaces, whose remnants can still be seen along its banks.
Today, the Housatonic River continues to play a significant role by generating hydroelectricity for the region. Much of the River is in the Federally Designated Upper Housatonic National Heritage Area.
Few pastimes are as relaxing as paddling the placid waters of the upper Housatonic River. The water on this entire excursion is flat.
Here the river is broad and smooth, with just enough current to keep you moving at a gentle pace. This idyllic stretch of river meanders past meadows ablaze with wildflowers, golden fields of corn and alfalfa, classic colonials with manicured lawns, rustic barns crowned by weather vanes, and cows, grazing in sundappled pastures.
Drifting along, you may catch a glimpse of a bald eagle, kingfisher or peregrine falcon overhead, see a turtle basking in the sultry summer sun, or watch the graceful movements of a great blue heron wading in the river. Each bend and niche of this quietwater holds yet another surprise to discover.
Along the way, explore the Hollenback River, a labyrinthine side river about one mile from your put-in point above the dam in Falls Village.
This narrow stream is well worth the sidetrip and is teeming with wildlife and colorful foliage.
You will also pass the home of the late Hal Borland, a naturalist and author, who wrote many books about this lovely river valley.