The Connecticut River Paddlers’ Trail brings New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut communities, conservation organizations, state and federal agencies, businesses, volunteers, and visitors together to protect, steward, enjoy, and benefit from a series of primitive campsites and river access points spanning from the river’s headwaters south to Long Island Sound. We recognize the region’s rich ecology and productive working landscape and seek to facilitate recreational use compatible with the river valley’s natural, social, and historic character.
A collaborative of loosely connected organizations, divided into northern (VT/NH) and a southern (MA/CT) chapters, assists with trail planning and development, build and steward primitive campsites, improve access points and portage trails, and disseminate information to visitors. Partner organizations have access to a database containing information on trail partners, campsites, access points, landowners, volunteer stewards, and stewardship priorities. An email list-serve assists with information sharing and planning. When appropriate, collaborating organizations jointly apply for funds, share stewardship resources, and form partnerships to carry out specific projects and river events. Annual meetings provide opportunities for planning, reflection on trail successes, and discussions on new challenges.
Campsite and river access development follows a shared management protocol designed to maintain the integrity of the river experience, ensure proper etiquette and standard expectations by trail users, encourage adequate stewardship, and to maintain good relationships with landowners. Campsite development, as well as ongoing stewardship, is carried out by volunteers, scout troops, and youth stewardship corps who will work together to mitigate the impacts of recreation use.
Trail promotion is coordinated and carefully managed, recognizing that overuse could both degrade campsites and the scenic experience visitors seek. At a website, jointly maintained and updated by collaborators, visitors are able to obtain trail and campsite updates, explore maps, post trip experiences, and connect to and support partnering organizations. Unified way-finding signage assists visitors in finding access points. Visitors have access to a waterproof map, sold by area outfitters.
Collaborating partners host river events that showcase area paddling opportunities. Both the purchase of the map and river events help raise funds for ongoing campsite stewardship efforts. Outreach to paddlers will create an engaged user group that not only recreates in a manner that is compatible with the natural and historic resources of the river valley, but who, working with area partners, assists with resource protection and river enhancement projects.