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Difficulty II-III
Length 22.5 Miles
Flow Range 1200 - 10000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 1 hour ago 221 [CFS] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 10/05/2015 7:05 pm

River Description

Info on slalom races on the Housatonic.

Scott Barnes contributes:
Swift's Bridge is a small set of rips because the river is constricted by old bridge abutments. At super high levels there is a world-class wave/hole that forms, but I've only seen it twice in my boating career. Normally, the clan from Clarke Outdoors go down there to surf a very small wave and do some squirts in the summer, when the water is really low.

Directions to the Swift's Bridge play, also courtesy of Scott Barnes:
Directions: In Cornwall Bridge, CT, at the intersection of Routes 7 and 4 there is a road on the NORTH side of the road bridge that will take you under the bridge. Drive down that road (once you go under the bridge for a little bit. The road will bear right to go up a hill. You want to park near the trailhead that is at that point. You'll notice where the road used to cross the river (until the flood of 1955) and that is where the wave is. Regarding the existing bridge and the intersection of Routes 4 and 7: Baird's General Store and Northwest Hardware are on the WRONG side of the bridge. There is a gas station on the CORRECT side of the bridge. Just to make sure people get it right because roads go down to the water and under the big bridge on both sides of the river at that intersection.
Releases depend on how much water is around, so the best bet is to call Clarke Outdoors, (860) 672-6365.

Check out this article from the AW Journal archives. Also check out the Rattlesnake and Bull's Bridge sections.

Rapid Descriptions


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David Paton
1 year ago

This is a good run for open boats and novice kayakers. Best above 1000 cfs. If the river is 700 cfs or below I recommend park and play at the covered bridge in West Cornwall or at the Swift's Bridge Rapid in Cornwall Bridge, about a mile below the usual take out at the Housatonic Meadows Picnic Area. "Swifts" is okay at even lower levels and has a few small surfing waves. At very high flood levels look for "Strike Three", a powerful and erratic wave that the play-boaters love. If in doubt call Clarke Outdoors at 860-672-6365

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David Brown
1 year ago

Regarding good flow levels for paddling: We are older, cautious intermediate kayakers who have been paddling from the Falls Village power plant to Housatonic Meadows campground for decades. For us, 1000 cfs at the power plant is a minimum level for good paddling. Below that (maybe as low as 750), from the power plant to the covered bridge is tedious, the covered bridge rapids is pretty tame and technical, and the rest is pretty scrapey (boney, as some say). Below 750, don't even try. A plug: We always go to Clarke Outdoors for shuttles and good information. They seem to be the heart of the paddling community around there. Enjoy!

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14 years ago

Delete the 2001 posting on the Housatonic River. We lost. The license was issued in 2002 and the Falls Village plant is now required to operate run-of-river. No more releases for paddlers. Betty Lou Bailey, Adirondack Mountain Club, another intervenor.

Gage Descriptions

The minimum level ("stage") is about 4 feet on the Gaylordsville gage. The Falls Village Gage is new.

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

No Accident Reports



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Bellows Falls (VT) Flow Study Reveals Hidden Whitewater

Robert Nasdor

A hardy group of northeast boaters climbed into the natural river channel below a hydropower dam to participate in a flow study designed to assess whether whitewater flows should be restored to this dewatered river reach on the Connecticut River. While significant obstacles remain, this site has the potential for providing instruction, playboating, and a big water feature that that could be run throughout much of the year and provide a much needed boost to the local economy. 

article main photo

FERC Takes Balanced Approach on Housatonic River, Connecticut

Tom Christopher

Relicensing of the two hydropower projects
on the Housatonic transitions to a new
phase as the Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission (FERC) takes a balanced
approach to resource issues.

Sam Southgate


Jim Michaud


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1198675 10/05/15 Sam Southgate
1190243 02/17/04 Jim Michaud n/a