Connecticut River Blueway
Four New England states, one river, one week
Starting not far from the Canadian border, the Connecticut River flows south for 410 miles to Long Island Sound. This American Heritage River's name comes from “quinetucket,” the Algonquian for “long tidal river.” Splitting New England in two, the river touches four of the six New England States: it is the border between New Hampshire and Vermont, then cuts through Massachusetts and into Connecticut. In 2012, the river and its watershed were designated as the USA's first National Blueway.
Trip ideas and itineraries are meant as suggestions only. They are intended as ideas and to highlight all there is to see and do in New England.
- 600 miles / 1,000 km of driving.
- Allow a week or so.
- Starting and finishing in Boston.
- View a Google Map of this trip.
- Real enthusiasts may want to start at the actual source: Fourth Connecticut Lake, N.H. From St. Johnsbury, this is a roundtrip of 200 miles/300km.
Drive from Boston to St. Johnsbury (175 miles/280km)
St. Johnsbury, Vermont
St. Johnsbury is the unofficial capital of Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, with its forest and lakes, farmers, artists and craftspeople. “St. J” (as locals call it), is a great base for biking, with one of the USA's best mountain bike trail networks.
Drive to Hanover, New Hampshire (60 miles/100 km)
Hanover, New Hampshire
Follow the scenic road along the New Hampshire side of the river to Hanover. Best known for Dartmouth, the Ivy League college founded in 1769, this is one of New England's prettiest towns.
Drive to Putney, Vermont (60 miles/100 km) On the way... In Cornish, visit the home, studio and gardens of sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, where more than 100 of his artworks are displayed. Cross the Connecticut River to the Vermont bank on the Cornish-Windsor Bridge, the world's longest two-span covered wooden bridge. Windsor is not only Vermont's birthplace (1777), but also home of the Harpoon Brewery (tours available). In Charlestown, on the river, the Fort at No. 4 is a living history museum recreating the days of the European settlers who used the river as a highway.
With its lively arts, shopping and dining scene, Putney has become a fun destination.
Drive to Northampton, Massachusetts (50 miles/80 km) On the way... Take a trip on the Connecticut River with Northfield Mountain's riverboat cruises. Or, in Gill, paddle on the river with Barton Cove Canoe/Kayak Rentals. At the Great Falls Discovery Center (free), the exhibits highlight the plants, animals and landscapes along the Connecticut River.
Northampton and Amherst, Massachusetts
The Amherst-Northampton region is known as the Happy Valley due to its art and music communities, progressive ideas, prestigious colleges and large student population. In Amherst you can visit the Emily Dickinson Museum, or head out of town just a little bit and take advantage of some whitewater rafting at Crab Apple Whitewater in Charlemont, Massachusetts, or visit Yankee Candle Village in South Deerfield, Massachusetts. Sometimes referred to as NoHo, Northampton is an attractive town known as an artistic, musical and counter-cultural hub – as well as home to Smith College. It features a large and politically influential LGBT community along with numerous alternative health and intellectual organizations. Close by are five other colleges, including UMASS Amherst, Amherst College and Mount Holyoke, Williams College and Hampshire College.
Drive to Hartford, Connecticut (50 miles/80 km) On the way... Heading south, consider a stop in Springfield. Sports fans head for the The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in the city where the sport was invented; culture lovers visit the Springfield Museums, with five neighboring museums devoted to art, science and history.
Connecticut's state capital, Hartford, is chock full of history, from its 1796 Old State House to the Mark Twain House & Museum and the neighboring home of Harriet Beecher Stowe.
Essex & Old Lyme, Connecticut
The charming New England town of Essex is known for the Griswold Inn, a tavern that opened in 1776, and the informative Connecticut River Museum on the waterfront. Essex makes an excellent base for exploring the lively and historic communities at the mouth of the Connecticut River.
Drive back to Boston 125 miles/200 km