Map 2 ~ The North Country
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to Columbia and Stratford
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.
section of the river is too narrow for legal travel
over headway speed, and is often too shallow for
any motorized boating. Electric motors are a better
choice. The river is far too narrow in this section
for legal travel by personal watercraft.
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 sometimes be run,
especially on the NH side, but it is better to plan
on a portage, especially if your skills or the
water level arent up to it. In the fall of
2001, the old dam's dangerous exposed spikes and
metal rods were removed by a crew working for the
Connecticut River Joint Commissions, making this
area much safer for paddlers and swimmers. The
State of Vermont has established Lyman Falls State
Park here, with help from CRJC.
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' below
Lyman Falls to 1600 above the N.
A new access for fishing and cartop boats has
been added in the village of Bloomfield, Vermont,
just upstream from the confluence of the Nulhegan
River. Park on the west side of Route 102. Here you
will find an exhibit erected for the Northern
Forest Canoe Trail.
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
opposite Stratford 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. A
public access for fishing and cartop boats has been
built on the NH side of the renovated historic
bridge. Those using this access should be cautious
at the rail line crossing. Heavy trains use this
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, using the
trail indicated by signage.
At the Mt. Orne Covered Bridge between Lancaster
and Lunenburg, use the parking area and stairs on
the Vermont side.
Marine Patrol: Toll Free in NH
(1-877-642-9700) or 603-293-2037. For the
safety of all, please call if you observe illegal
or dangerous boating activity.
Information on current
and projected flows at Connecticut River mainstem
dams is available through TransCanada Hydro
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