Wanda Canoe Club's Farmington River Cruise, April 10, 2005

 

 

Farmington River Cruise Report, April 10, 2005

The Weather was warm.  This was one of the top ten spring days of 2005.  The sky was bright and sunny.  The high temperature was around 70.

The water temperature was about forty five degrees.      

The Farmington River was running at a volume of about 500 CFS and a level of 4.8 feet at the Riverton Gage.  At the Unionville Gage volume was about 1,300 CFS and a the level 6.8 feet.  This is slightly higher than average for this time of year.  

 

     Sometimes it just seems right to drive a hundred and fifty miles to get to an eight mile paddling trip.  We met at the Ridgefield Park boathouse at 8:00 am, picked up a club boat, dropped off a private boat and arranged our car pool.  Joan and Carole drove the shuttle car while Joe and Judy rode in Jim's truck with both boats on top.  Everyone had arranged to beg, borrow or buy a wetsuit since we knew the water temperatures would be about forty five degrees.

     After loading the boats and waiting for a train to pass we departed with mixed signals.  Jim understood that we would head for a fast food place and a pit stop before going to fuel Carole's car.  As we crossed the tracks Carole was about a block behind Jim.  About half way to route 80 we stopped to wait for Carole and Joan.  After waiting quite a while we doubled back to see if they had decided to stop at the diner.  No luck.  Judy was dropped off as we crossed the tracks to check if they had returned to the boathouse.  We then retraced our steps to find Joan waving us down at the gas station where they had stopped. 

     Relieved in more ways than one and fully fuelled we made our way to the highway and finally got on the road around nine. About 150 miles later, just as we were about to turn into 318 we got behind four car-topped kayaks.  Their owners  stopped along the roadside to put in just into the American Legion State Forest and we stopped to make some inquiries of them.  Our group decided that it would be nice to paddle a different stretch of the Farmington than we had done in prior years and we worked out shuttle arrangements with our new paddling companions.

     We got onto the river around 1:00 pm and enjoyed about an hour and a half with our new friends.  They had already had lunch while we were launching so we let them go ahead while we ate.

     The Farmington River runs through a variety of wooded hills and small towns.  The water was clear, the scenery was pleasant and varied enough to be interesting.  This part of the river passes through a number of class I and I+ riffles.  We found that there was class II interference caused by fly fishermen who had waded out to mid stream in a number of places.  The trout season was still a week away and our friends told us that the fishermen are shoulder to shoulder on opening day of one of the premiere trout streams in the area.

     We counted our three bridges and got a little nervous before we spotted the take out.  It was our understanding that the fourth bridge was the last possible point to take out before the Satan's Kingdom rapids which is rated a class III.

     All in all this section was a good quiet one to get beginners acclimated to moving water and small rapids.  The riffles came frequently, but were rarely a problem.  Our three person boat was a little heavy and slow to rise in the standing waves so we would frequently back paddle to give the boat a chance to rise and prevent water from splashing in over the sides.  As a result we had a pretty dry boat after the first drop.  We used the same technique to back ferry or "set" our boat for our preferred "line" through many of the remaining drops. 

    We stopped for dinner in the McDonalds in Winsted and arrived home around ten pm after dropping boats at Ridgefield Park and swapping gear.

 

Directions to the Put In,

 

Tappan Zee bridge to I684 to I84.  At Waterbury exit left onto 6 and 8 North through Torrington to Winsted.  Turn right at the end of the double lane highway for food and fuel.  Double back for about a 1/4 mile and turn left onto 44, New Hartford Rd.  After about 3 miles go left onto 318, Ripley Hill Rd. and left again just before the bridge onto River Road West.  The put in is on the roadside shortly after entering American Legion State Forest.  Park at wide spots on the roadside.

Directions to the Take Out

 

Follow River Road South past the junction with 318 for about 2.5 miles.  The road merges into rt. 44.  Continue on 44 for about 2 miles past New Hartford to Satan's Kingdom State Recreation Area on the left.  There is ample parking for 25 or more cars. 

On the river pass Main Stream Canoe and Kayak take out on river right which is about 1/4 mile before the take out also on River Right.