Bantam River, Litchfield, CT

The section of the Bantam River through White Memorial Conservation Center property offers delightful -- and popular -- paddling trips on brownwater (that is, moving water with no rapids). The river flows serenely past marshes and forests, and often provides glimpses of beavers, birds, turtles, frogs, fish, and dragonflies. If you're lucky, you might even see a river otter. The Bantam River flows into and out of Bantam Lake, Connecticut's largest natural lake. You have the option of paddling on the inflow or the outflow section, or from one to the other by paddling across part of Bantam Lake. A few cautions: (1) Depending on the water level, you may need to carry your boat over a beaver dam or two; (2) although the current in the river is usually gentle, allowing you to paddle either up- or downstream, it can be much stronger in high-water situations, especially where the river becomes narrow and winding; and (3) if you paddle into Bantam Lake, be prepared to deal with wakes from motorboats and personal watercraft (e.g., Jet Skis).

Bantam River Outflow: Put-in at North Shore Road Bridge 

There are two bridges on North Shore Road, one over the Bantam River and one over Butternut Brook. The bridge with the Bantam River put-in is the one closer to White Memorial's Point Folly Campground. The parking area is smaller than the one at Whites' Woods Road. Just south of the bridge, on both sides of the river are narrow dirt paths to the water. From the put-in, you can reverse the trip described above (paddling up the outflow into the lake, across the lake, then into the inflow part of the river, taking out at the Whites' Woods Road bridge). Or, you can paddle downstream (away from the lake) for a mile or so before the river becomes narrow and twisting with potential obstructions from downed trees. This stretch of the river ends at a low dam in Bantam. Another option for this stretch, if the water level permits, is to paddle from the Bantam River into Butternut Brook, not far from the put-in. In low water, however, the brook might be too shallow to paddle. And in very high water, a bridge over Butternut Brook may be impassable.

Bantam River Inflow Put-in: Whites' Woods Road Bridge