Best River Adventures

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Here in New England, water adventures aren’t limited to the ocean or lakes. Rivers offer plenty of opportunities for paddling and rafting fun. Check out some of our favorite river adventures from the 2011 Best of New England list.

Farmington River, New Hartford, CT
The gentle rapids here provide a rollicking good ride down a 2.5-mile stretch. Farmington River Tubing provides tubes, lifejackets, and a shuttle bus from the take-out back to the starting point (Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day). 92 Main St. 960-693-6465; farmingtonrivertubing.com

The Housatonic, Litchfield Hills, CT
Quiet country villages and forests of maples and oaks line the banks of the Housatonic River as it meanders through hills, over rocky gorges, and under century-old covered bridges. Flat-water canoeists can put in above the Falls Village Dam in the town of Canaan (be sure to stay to the right there as you head north, to avoid the metal rods along the river bottom on the west side) and canoe more than 14 miles north to Ashley Falls, Massachusetts. Housatonic River Road. 860-567-4506, litchfieldhills.com; connecticutwatertrails.com

Deerfield River, Franklin County, MA
Outfitters haul their yellow rafts to the banks of the Deerfield River in the spring and summer months to tumble down two stretches: the exhilarating Class IV rapids in the Dryway and the family-friendly Class II and III rapids farther south, in the deep pools of Zoar Gap. Zoar Outdoor offers guided and self-guided trips. 7 Main St., Charlemont. 800-532-7483; zoaroutdoor.com

Penobscot River, The Forks, ME
Moments after boarding your raft and going over your first major rapid, dubbed “Exterminator,” you immediately realize that this 14-mile stretch of the Penobscot is a serious joyride that will have you shrieking with abandonment. Go with a reputable outfitter such as Northern Outdoors, which ran its first trip down the Penobscot in 1976. 1771 U.S. Route 201. 800-765-7238, 207-663-4466; northernoutdoors.com

Allagash Wilderness Waterway, Newry, ME
Registered Maine Guides Polly Mahoney and Kevin Slater, owners of Mahoosuc Guide Service, will take you down the 92-mile Allagash from spring through fall, but they highly recommend their “Before the Bugs” trip, May 24-29 this year, or the “Fall Foliage” paddle, September 27 to October 2 this year, when the insects and the majority of humans are gone–replaced by moose as talkative as Bullwinkle (they’re in heat)–and Mother Nature is putting on her most colorful dress. 1513 Bear River Road. 207-824-2073; mahoosuc.com


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