Willimantic River Water Trail

The Willimantic River Water Trail provides more than 21 contiguous miles of paddling enjoyment and challenges between Stafford Springs and Windham, Connecticut with only one short portage. There are three major segments: the rapids & quickwater of the narrow upper section, the flatwater impoundment above Eagleville Lake Dam and the moderate current and flatwater down to the Route 66 takeout just above the falls in Willimantic. The river is within an hour's drive of three of New England's largest urban regions. Many of the segments provide an opportunity for family-friendly, close-to-home outdoor adventures with a surprisingly remote feel; wildlife is abundant and the only traces of civilization are the remnants of old mills.

photo: Paddling the Willimantic River Water Trail Type: Water Trail
Length: 21.90 miles
Loop Trail? No
Allowed Uses: Boating, non-motorized: Canoeing
Boating, non-motorized: Kayaking
Boating, non-motorized: Rafting
Fishing
Swimming
Swimming - Diving/snorkeling
Wildlife Observation
Agency:
Entry Fee? No
Parking Fee? No

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Directions

Location: The trail begins in Stafford CT, just south of the downtown on Route 32. It continues parallel to Route 32 with launches and landings in Tolland, Willington, Coventry, Mansfield, Columbia and Willimantic CT.
States: Connecticut
Counties: Tolland, Windham
Latitude: 41.95205   Longitude: -72.30299

The water trail is accessible from two major east west highways - Interstate 84 and US Route 6 - via CT Route 32 which parallels the river.

See the attached Paddle Guide and Stewardship Plans for detailed directions to individual segments.

Description

The Willimantic River Water Trail provides more than 22 contiguous miles of paddling enjoyment and challenges between Stafford Springs and Willimantic, Connecticut with only one short portage.

There are three major segments: the rapids & quickwater of the narrow upper section, the flatwater impoundment above Eagleville Lake Dam and the moderate current and flatwater down to the takeout just above the falls in Willimantic.

NOTE: The water trail was extended 1.1 miles in 2015 with the addition of a takeout site in Willimantic at Mile 22.5 on river left. Do not pass downstream of this takeout as there are dangerous falls below.

1. Stafford to Mansfield CT (13.7 miles of narrow rapids and quickwater suitable for experienced paddlers).
2. Mansfield River Park to Eagleville Dam in Mansfield and Coventry CT (1.4 miles of flatwater suitable for novice paddlers and families).
3. Eagleville Dam to Willimantic CT (7.4 miles of quickwater and flatwater suitable for paddlers with some experience). It's critical not to miss the Willimantic take-out as there are dangerous falls just downstream!

The river is within an hour's drive of three of New England's largest urban regions. Many of the segments provide an opportunity for family-friendly, close-to-home outdoor adventures with a surprisingly remote feel; wildlife is abundant and the only traces of civilization are the remnants of old mills.

The Willimantic River Water Trail flows through the Quinebaug and Shetucket Rivers Valley National Heritage Corridor, known as The Last Green Valley because it is a relatively undeveloped rural enclave in the midst of the most urbanized region in the nation. The Last Green Valley is 78% forest and farmland, and appears distinctively dark at night when viewed from satellites or aircraft. The Willimantic River flows into the Shetucket River, which eventually combines with the Quinebaug River to become the Thames River, creating the the third largest watershed emptying into Long Island Sound.

The Last Green Valley, Inc. partners with the Willimantic River Alliance, federal and state agencies, non-profits, riverside towns, and paddlers to promote enjoyment and stewardship of the Quinebaug and Willimantic Rivers. An active Water Trails Steering Committee has developed stewardship plans and paddlers guides, made launch site improvements and hosted public events to raise public awareness and increase recreational use. Future water trails are envisioned throughout the greater Thames River watershed.

Additional Details

Primary Surface: Water, moving
Secondary Surface: Water, moving
Water, still

Average Grade: 0%
Elevation Low Point: 246
Elevation High Point: 485
Year Designated: 2012

Supporting Webpages and Documents

Document: 2013 Willimantic River Water Trail Paddle Guide
Document: Willimantic River Water Trail Paddle Guide
Website: Willimantic River Alliance

Contact Information

For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.

Public Contact:
Lois Bruinooge
Deputy Executive Director
The Last Green Valley, Inc.
P.O. Box 29
Danielson , CT 06239 -0029
(860) 774-3300
lois@tlgv.org

 

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