River Tips

The Farmington River is a beautiful place to visit. Depending on when and where you go, you may hardly see another person. Conversely, you may go on a clear summer day and encounter hundreds of tubers, fishermen, and kayakers. Remember, everyone has a right to be on the water, not just you. Here are a few etiquette tips to make everyone's day more enjoyable:

  • Please no glass! Pretty self explanitory. Broken glass is hard to pick up and can easily cut you or someone else.
  • Carry out whatever you bring in with you. Many areas do not provide trash cans anymore.
  • Do not bring any items with you in the water that can end up in the river if you swim, trip or fall out of a tube or kayak
  • If you are tubing/rafting/boating with others and get separated from the group, get back in touch with them ASAP so they know you are OK.
  • If boating or tubing and you encounter fishermen, try to go where they are not casting. Sometimes behind is the best option.
  • If you are fishing, do not take up the whole width of the river. Leave room for tubers and boaters to get by remembering that shallow water is not always an option for them. Also, many paddlers you encounter will be inexperienced on this stretch of river and will not be able to maneuver very well.
  • Do not trespass on private property when you leave the water.
  • Try not to be overly noisey on the river. Many people come out to get away from their busy life and would rather listen to the sounds of nature and the water than you yelling.
  • Respect any wildlife you may see from a distance.

Safety on the river is also very important. Whether you are wading in to get to your favorite fishing hole or paddling a kayak down river, there are a few rules you should follow. Even though the Upper Farmington River may not have huge whitewater like some other rivers, it is still possible to get injured or worse by being careless.

Everyone should know their abilities and also the river level before entering. Be honest with yourself. If you are a beginner paddler, don't go out when the water is high. Below Riverton, the proper way to find out the flow (in cubic feet per second or cfs) is by adding the flow from the Riverton gauge in with the flow from the Still River gauge. The flow on the West Branch of the Farmington River is controlled by dam release from the Goodwin Dam and is often fairly constant within a couple hundred cfs. The flow from the Still River is not controlled though by dam release and can vary greatly after rain storms or snow melt. During summer months in a dry spell the Still River may be flowing at less than 100 cfs. However after heavy rains this can increase sometimes to several thousand cfs, making being on the river for anyone other than expert paddlers unsafe. Here are links to three USGS gauges that you may find useful for determining flows - 01186500, 01186000, 01188090. These are for the above mentioned Still River and the Farmington above Riverton, and also for the Farmington in Unionville (which is already a few miles below where the Wild and Scenic section ends). The reason I like to look at the Unionville gauge is because it shows how the additional streams and runoff that enter the river add to flow by the time you get to Unionville. Here are some optimum flow guidelines for various activities on the river:

  • Fishing 150 - 350 cfs
  • Tubing 350 - 450 cfs
  • Recreational canoeing or kayaking 350 - 600 cfs
  • Advanced Playboating 800 - 1200 cfs

Remember, if you are tubing or boating, always wear a PFD. Helmets should be worn in a whitewater kayak. If you find yourself out of your tube or boat, float downriver feet first and never try to stand up in a rapid. Your foot could become entrapped under a rock and then the force of the water will push you forward. Lastly, alcohol and flowing water don't mix!