Map 1 - The Connecticut Lakes
Welcome to the Headwaters region of the
Connecticut River. Over 400 miles from the sea, the
river is wild and cold, with trout to match. The
Connecticut rises in tiny Fourth Lake, accessible
by a footpath along the US/Canadian border and then
through protected land. Which of several outlets
actually becomes the river depends on the mood of
resident beaver. Third,
Second, and First Connecticut Lakes are next in the
chain, offering fine, deep habitat for a renowned
fishery that includes landlocked salmon and lake
trout. A stiff breeze can raise a strong chop, so
be careful if you are canoeing on a windy day.
The infant river is too small for navigation
between the upper lakes. Watch the roadside wallows
on your travels along Route 3, known as Moose
Enjoy the Common Loons, which nest throughout
the region, from a distance. Get too close, and you
could disturb the adults or threaten their young.
If a loon starts to repeatedly dip its bill, splash
in the water, or flash its white belly in your
direction, back off. Artificial nesting islands set
up on some of the lakes help loons raise their
chicks away from nest predators and secure from
water level changes. Keep your wake low near these
structures, and respect warning buoys. Lead sinkers
have been banned in NH to protect waterfowl like
loons, which suffer from lead poisoning after
ingesting them. Loons need their privacy, but
arent shy about contributing to the night
music of the lakes. To learn more about loons,
contact the Audubon Society of NHs Loon
Preservation Committee at 603-476-5666.
four Connecticut Lakes are natural impoundments
along the river, although hydro dams have raised
the levels of First and Second Lakes. Lake Francis
was created in the 1940s to provide flood control.
The three-mile stretch of river between First Lake
and Lake Francis is expert canoeing and kayaking
water only. Be aware of water releases from the
dams. Thanks to a 1998 agreement with the hydro
power company, some 3000 acres surrounding the
lakes are now permanently protected from
development and will continue to provide the
beautiful backdrop and clean waters you find
These pristine lakes deserve the utmost respect
from boaters. If you have brought your boat from
out of state, wash it carefully to avoid
introducing aquatic exotics to the river system.
For more information, see introduction.
Map 2 - The North Country
The river drops 400 feet between Murphy Dam at
the foot of Lake Francis and the N.
Stratford/Bloomfield bridge, a distance of some 35
miles as the trout swims. For the most part, this
is canoe, kayak, and wader water.
This section of the river is too narrow for
travel over headway speed, and is often too shallow
for any motorized boating. Shallow drafted boats
will find the river easier going between the Route
2 bridge and Gilman Dam. If you do use a propeller,
please do not create a wake: riverbank washing into
the water adds sediment which covers trout spawning
habitat. Avoid climbing on eroding banks.
Please ask landowner permission, if you cross
private land to reach the river, and treat the land
as carefully as you would your own. Carry out what
you carry in. Leave crops and standing grass
undisturbed, and close pasture gates behind you.
Leave your vehicle where it will not obstruct
access to farm fields or equipment.
The breached dam at Lyman Falls, 8 miles below
the Columbia covered bridge, is a place to pull out
and scout ahead. The falls can often be run on the
NH side, but plan on a portage if your skills or
the water level arent up to it.
Wild brook trout are one of the Upper
Connecticuts many treasures. Fishermen should
know about the catch-and-release section (use
barbless hooks) designated from a point 250 feet
below Lyman Falls to 1600 above the N.
Stratford/Bloomfield bridge. For more on fishing,
refer to the introduction.
The rivers exceptional natural beauty here
was recognized by an act of the New Hampshire
legislature in 1992: the seven mile stretch of the
Connecticut from the mouth of Wheeler Stream to the
c. 1885 steel truss bridge between Stratford and
Maidstone is the only segment of the Connecticut
River officially designated as natural.
No motors may be used on this section. Propellers
dont stand a chance here anyway, and the
spectacular view of the Percy Peaks is best enjoyed
at a paddlers leisurely pace.
In the section from Stratford to Gilman, the
river shifts from quick water to meandering across
a valley of rich soils, taking shortcuts during
high water and creating oxbows. In at least one
place, a Vermont farmer can watch the sun set over
New Hampshire. The natural valley flood storage
offered by the open lands near the river helps
prevent flooding downstream.
The breached Wyoming Dam at the
Guildhall/Northumberland bridge is dangerous and
should be portaged on the Vermont side.
Map 3 - Moore Reservoir
Below the Gilman Dam, the river is too shallow
for motorized boating until it spills into the vast
and beautiful expanse of Moore Reservoir. Impounded
by the massive 178 high Moore Dam, Moore
Reservoir at 3500 acres is actually New
Hampshires fourth largest lake, and its
largest undeveloped lake. Thanks to a recent
agreement between the hydro power company, federal
and state agencies, conservation groups, and the
CRJC, the reservoir will stay that way, to remain
open for wildlife habitat, water quality
protection, and public recreation. The state line
is inundated here, and much of Moore Reservoir is
actually Vermont waters.
Moore Dam, completed in 1957, is the largest
conventional hydro station in New England, and has
a generating capacity of 192 megawatts. In addition
to its many access ramps and picnic areas around
the reservoir, USGen New England maintains a
visitor center on the NH side of the dam, which is
open Thurs.-Mon. from Memorial Day - Columbus
During the boating season, expect that water
levels could vary up to nine or ten feet. Watch for
changes in water level: call toll free
1-888-FLOFONE (1-888-356-3663). Make no mistake
about underwater boating hazards. The water level
fluctuates as power is generated, and may bring
logs, shoals and rocks within propeller range.
Boaters should give as wide a berth to shallows and
submerged rocks as they do to canoeists and other
small craft. Wind-driven waves, boat chop, and
floating debris can also be a threat on this big
piece of water. If you dont know the area,
use special caution.
Anglers will find trout, northern pike,
land-locked salmon, pickerel, perch, and bass.
Dont be surprised to find an osprey or a bald
eagle fishing, too.
Boaters can help keep the Moore experience a
good one by practicing carry in / carry
out and parking