With its consistently navigable waters, few portages or difficult rapids, a rich cultural history, and a varied natural landscape, the Connecticut River provides a unique opportunity to paddle through the heart of New England.

The Connecticut River Paddlers' Trail is a series of primitive campsites, river access points, and portage trails spanning from the headwaters south to Long Island Sound. While most of the river shore is privately owned, a number of generous landowners have agreed to host the public at primitive campsites on their land.

In the early 1990s, the Upper Valley Land Trust was instrumental in establishing formal river campsites in Vermont and New Hampshire. Since their initial effort, over twenty other groups have joined together to developed additional campsites and completed access improvement projects. As a result, the river provides one of the northeast's best options for multi-day paddling trips, with over fifty camping destinations and over 150 access points

The Connecticut River Paddlers' Trail is managed as a loose collaborative effort of partner organizations and community members who aid in trail planning and development, building and maintaining campsites, improving access points and portage trails, and disseminating information to visitors. The Vermont River Conservancy currently coordinates this effort.

In 2012, through the leadership of the Appalachian Mountain Club, the Connecticut River Conservancy, the Silvio Conte Fish and Wildlife Refuge, and the Trust For Public Land, an initiative to expand the trail south into Massachusetts and Connecticut was launched. The primary goal of this expanded effort is to close the gaps in primitive campsite availability from source to sea. Three new campsites were developed in Massachusetts, and two in Connecticut.