The location of Collinsville Canoe & Kayak is central to the many paddling opportunities of the Farmington River Valley. Aside from the mile and half of flat water out in our backyard, there are a few other spots of note. All can be reached in half an hour. For information on the entire state of Connecticut check out the CT DEEP Boater's Guide.
In Barkhamsted, the Metropolitan District Commission operates the Lake McDonough reservoir facility. This offers paddling on the impounded lower section of the East Branch of the Farmington. One can paddle and fish on this reservoir and picnic anywhere on its forested banks. Swimming is only allowed at the beaches. There is a nominal parking and launching charge. A great spot for lazy private days. Follow Route 44 West to New Hartford and take route 219 North. The entrance is on the northern end of the reservoir.
Another flat-water lake is West Hill Pond in New Hartford/Winsted. Sometimes there are a lot of boats on this pond but horsepower is restricted during the summer. A good spot to people and cottage watch. Also a good spot for an evening paddle. Follow Route 44 West through New Hartford. After the Winsted Feed Store in Winsted watch for the state boat launch sign on the right. The turn is to the left up a hill. Follow that road bearing to the right until you reach the lake. Turn left and the launch is on your right. Parking is on the left.
Good flat water river paddling can be had anywhere on the Farmington River from the Route 4 bridge in Farmington down to Curtiss Park in Simsbury (Route 315 off Route 10). Put-in and take out spots are Route 4 in Farmington, Route 185 in Simsbury and Curtiss Park. This whole 14-mile segment has moving current but no rapids or tricky currents. This area is excellent for leisurely floating or training for flat-water racing. The river flows North through this section, don't be confused.
White water abounds on the Farmington River. The easiest section is from Riverton to Pleasant Valley (Route 318 bridge), or for a longer trip continue to the Satan's Kingdom Area (Route 44). Be sure to take out once you can see the parking lot. This area is beautiful and has been approved as a Federal Wild and Scenic River.
The next most difficult whitewater stretch is five minutes downstream from CCK, known locally as Crystal Rapids. Put in is at the wide spot in the road on 179 along the Farmington River Trail. The take out is on River Road, the right on Route 179 before you cross the Route 4 Bridge next to Farmington Antiques. Follow the road for about half a mile and find a dirt parking space by the river. Or at the River Trail parking area. This section has good class II rapids and you can make it very difficult by really working all the routes.
The most difficult section is Tariffville Gorge. It is one of the few spots in New England that has good flows year round. This section is safely paddled only with an experienced group. The sharp rocks and strong hydraulics have claimed many boats. From CCK take Maple Avenue to Route 44 East. In Avon, turn left onto Route 10. In Simsbury take 315 to Tariffville. Turn right onto 189 and then left onto 187. Take the first right after the bridge, and then take another right. Drive down under the bridge on Tunxis Avenue and follow the road to the end. Walk down the path on the right to the beach and check this great place out.
Good paddling is not very far away from CCK. Save the driving time and spend more time on the water!