Fishing - The Farmington River has some of the best trout fishing in the United States. People from all over, not just New England, come here to fish. Part of the reason the fishing is so good is the reliable flow year round and cold water coming out of the bottom of Goodwin Dam located above Riverton, CT. Fly fishing is extremely popular, with several outfitters/guides in the area. Much of this stretch of river is catch and release, so please obey those designated areas.
Tubing - Another favorite summer pastime is floating down the Farmington in a tube. You can use your own or better yet, rent one from the Farmington River Tubing Company and go through Satan's Kingdom. They will give you a tube and PFD (which you should always wear on the river), and arrange a shuttle back to their parking lot. Depending on river levels, this float takes between 1.5 and 2 hours. Remember, do not take glass on the river nor anything else that will go overboard in the likely event you flip your tube!
Canoeing / Kayaking - The stretch of river designated as 'Wild and Scenic' is a great spot to paddle. Much of it is flat water and quick water, suitable for beginners, with the occasional class I and II rapid mixed in. The section of river from Goodwin Dam to Riverton is a little more difficult - more rapids and less calm water. This is probably not a place for beginners. There are rocks which require maneuvering. The most difficult section of the Upper Farmington is called Satan's Kingdom. There is a class III drop near the top of the run and a couple of class II areas further down. Whitewater paddlers will like this section the best because there are areas for them to play in and surf the waves. Boaters should never enter the river without wearing a PFD. Whitewater kayakers need to wear a helmet as well. Be aware that after lots of rain, the current can get much stronger and the rapids generally go up a class. This is NOT the time recreational boaters should enter the water. People have drowned during high water levels on the Upper Farmington.
Although not actually part of the Wild and Scenic section of the Farmington River, Sandy Brook is a tributary and connects with the Still River to meet the Farmington just below Riverton. If you are an EXPERT whitewater kayaker, there is great class IV paddling on the upper Sandy Brook after the spring thaw and big rainstorms. Read more about this section on American Whitewater.
Swimming - Swimming is somewhat limited on the river, but at People's Forest (fee on weekends during the summer), there is a small sandy beach. This is a very popular picnicking spot where the river is usually calm enough to go in for a quick dip. There are no lifeguards here so use at your own risk!
Cycling - The East and West River roads that split the Farmington River between Pleasant Valley Center and Riverton make for a great loop. The length is approximately 9 miles. There are a couple small hills, but the route is fairly flat all the way around. Since both roads parallel the river for almost the entire 9 miles, it is extremely scenic.
Mountain Biking - Yes, there is mountain biking on the lands near the Farmington River as well. Mountain bikes are allowed on the snowmobile trails in People's Forest (but not on any of the other blazed hiking trails there). However these trails are often muddy for much of the season and fairly difficult to bike on because of the terrain and rocks. A better option for mountain bikers is to venture to Nepaug State forest, the tip of which borders the Farmington along Satan's Kingdom. Nepaug forest has everything from dirt roads for beginners, to great singletrack, and even ramps, jumps and drops. Please note some of the riding here is very advanced and should be only attempted by expert riders. Find more information about mountain biking in Nepaug Forest from bikerag.com.
Hiking - There are several areas to go for hikes and walks around the river. American Legion and People's State Forest are probably the most popular and contain a wide variety of hikes, some with great views over the surrounding river valley. View a map of the trails. The above mentioned Nepaug State forest is not only for mountain biking, but contains some good hiking as well. Lastly, the Greenwoods area of the Farmington River (turn off Rte 44 onto 181 and enter your first dirt road on right) has some paths next to the river that are popular spots for birders.
However you choose to enjoy the beautiful Farmington River, please remember to leave your glass containers at home and pack out any trash you bring with you. Some areas like People's Forest have removed their trash barrels and expect you to do this. Let's leave the river just as perfect after you leave for the next visitor!