Week 5: Springfield, MA to Long Island Sound

As we cross from Massachusetts into Connecticut, we’ll also paddle down river through the largest cities on the Connecticut River– Springfield, MA, plus Hartford and Middletown, CT. We’ll experience the unique perspective of paddling from forest and farmland into, through, and out of these major population centers. Paddling is easy, with little current, though the width of the river this far along will keep us from wandering from one side to the other. We’ll be paddling flat water as we pass by beautiful islands and under historic bridges in this section.

We’ll begin to see the effects of the ocean tides, as the river rises and lowers up to two feet in this section with the changing tides. As we depart Middletown, the Connecticut turns to the southeast. Through this section, we will paddle along with the outgoing tide to ensure ease of passage as we navigate the transition from freshwater into the saltwater tidal marshes at the mouth of the river. The Tidelands have been marked by the Nature Conservancy as one of the ‘Last Great Places’ on earth, and we’ll take some time to explore and celebrate the beauty of the fresh and brackish tidal wetlands as we pass through this unique region on the way to our destination and pilgrimage-concluding celebration in Essex, Connecticut. While there will be no rapids to contend with, on this wide section we may face winds and larger boats traversing the river.

Following our major celebration in Essex, CT, a smaller group of experienced paddlers will complete the final six miles of our journey, finishing with a dramatic entry into Long Island Sound where the Connecticut River enters the ocean. We’ll base the timing of this final stretch around the tides, and depending on the weather we may experience dramatic waves as we definitively move from river to ocean.

Our final week brings with it a spiritual focus on transformation and resurrection. The ultimate aim of faith is participation in the death and resurrection of Christ, and our pilgrimage brings us naturally to this ultimate act of self-emptying. As the Connecticut empties itself out into the sea, we aim to empty ourselves into the eternal mystery of God renewing all things.


SEGMENT #8 (JULY 3 – JULY 5): Springfield, MA to Middletown, CT

  • Put-in location = North Riverfront Park
  • Pull-out location = Harbor Park
  • Mileage = 41.5 miles in 3 days
  • Longest day = 18.5 miles with 0 portages
  • Portages = 0
  • Difficulty = flat water
  • Camping = 0 nights
  • Indoor accommodations = 2 nights
  • Participation limit = unlimited
  • Event(s) during this section = TBA

SEGMENT #9 (JULY 6 – JULY 8): Middletown, CT to Essex, CT

  • Put-in location = Harbor Park
  • Pull-out location = Essex Town Dock
  • Mileage = 24.5 miles in 3 days
  • Longest day = 9.5 miles with 0 portages
  • Portages = 0
  • Difficulty = flat water with tidal effects
  • Camping = 1 night (river-access only)
  • Indoor accommodations = 1 night
  • Participation limit = 10 adults ≥ age 18
  • Event(s) during this section = Pilgrimage concluding celebration on July 8th!

JULY 8: Land-based event(s) near Essex, CT, to celebrate the conclusion of the Pilgrimage – visit our Events page for more details

SEGMENT #10 (JULY 9): Essex, CT to Long Island Sound

  • Put-in location = Essex Park
  • Pull-out location = TBD near Old Saybrook
  • Mileage = 6 miles in 1 day
  • Longest day = 6 miles with 0 portages
  • Portages = 0
  • Difficulty = flat water with tidal effects and possible high waves in open water
  • Participation limit = experienced paddlers only due to tidal effects, current, and waves