The Connecticut River is a rich ecological and recreational resource bordered by working farms and forest lands. The majority of the campsites established along the Connecticut River are made possible through the generosity of private landowners. While a variety of partners help to establish access points and campsites, the future of the Paddlers' Trail depends on good river etiquette and campsite stewardship. Please follow these guidelines:
On The Water
- Share the river. Give anglers a wide birth, and be efficient while loading and unloading boats at busy access points.
- Respect wildlife. Observe wildlife from a distance, and do not disturb nesting birds or basking turtles.
- Prevent the spread of invasive exotic species. Clean and dry your boats and gear thoroughly between each trip - sections of the Connecticut River are host to invasive aquatic species, including didymo (Rock Snot), that disrupt our natural ecosystems and can be spread by anglers and paddlers.
At the Campsites
- Access campsites from the river only. Land based access is prohibited unless indicated otherwise.
- Respect the landowner’s property and crops by staying within the designated campsite areas.
- Note the campsite’s capacity. Generally, the maximum group size at river campsites is twelve campers. However, many campsites are only suited for smaller groups: check the list of campsites as you plan your trip. Please limit your stay to no more than two nights per site. If the campsite is full and you must find another place to camp for the night, request permission from the landowner.
- Do not use metal stakes when camping near farmer's fields as they can damage haying equipment and be dangerous to livestock.
- Consider making a donation. Campsites requires annual maintenance to keep them safe for paddlers and to prevent damage to the environment. Trail partners enlist volunteers, youth corps, and scout troops to assist with site stewardship. 100% of your gift will support these efforts. In general, the recommended donation generally $5-$10 per tent, per night, or $5 per night. Donation envelopes and/or donation boxes are often located at the campsite. Alternatively, several campsite stewards accept donations via their websites.
- Be mindful of campsite closures. Some campsites are closed for the winter. Others may be closed due to maintenance or due to abuse from users. Before embarking on your trip, it is best to check the campsite status page.
Leave No Trace
- Leave each campsite in better shape than you found it. Carry out all trash you find at the site, including food waste, to keep the campsite clean and to avoid temptations for local wildlife.
- Stay within the designated campsite area; respect the landowner’s property and crops.
- Be careful where you walk. Protect the shore vegetation and the fragile soil it depends on by traveling on existing paths and hard surfaces. The roots of shore vegetation bind soil together and prevent erosion. Do not bushwhack through dense vegetation – and beware of poison ivy and stinging nettles.
- Use a portable stove for cooking. Fires are forbidden at some sites. Where permitted, keep fires small and in control. If you choose to make a fire, please use the fire ring provided and use only downed and dead wood. Never cut live trees, or peel birch bark.
- Dispose of human waste properly. When available, use the privies provided. If no privy is available, bury human waste in a 6-8 inch cathole at least 200 feet away from the water.
- Wash away from the river. All washing should be done at least 75 feet from the river.
- Sshhhh... Noise carries easily on the river. Allow others to share the solitude.
For Your Safety
- Carry a map of the river with you, and know the location of dams and other hazards. If you are unsure of conditions ahead, pull to shore and scout. Some breached dams must be portaged.
- Use PFDs. Each boat must carry a Coast Guard approved personal floatation device for each person.
- Always secure your boat, don't simply "beach" it. River flows are affected by operations at dams. Water levels can fluctuate several feet during the course of the day or night. For river flow forecasts call TransCanada’s toll free hotline: 1-800-452-1737.
- Don't drink untreated river water. Bring your own water, or plan to filter or boil river water before use.
- To report boating safety concerns, contact the Marine Patrol toll free within NH: (877) 642-9700, or outside NH call (603) 293-2037.
- Do not depend upon a cell phone for emergency use; cell coverage is not reliable.
- Banks may be slippery; watch your footing!