A River Journey through a Rich, Floating Ecology
Despite all my good intentions, it’s not often I get to use my kayak. But, I was determined to get on the water one way or another while my kids were off to their various camps. I figured a simple river run on a hot, steamy morning was just the push I needed. So, I convinced my husband to play hooky for a couple of hours to join me for a short trip on the Coginchaug River.
In 2014, a car-top boat launch was built in the North End right by Middletown’s recycling center. It’s here where we began our journey. A railroad bridge sits to the left of the ramp and just as we were preparing to slip into the water, a train chugged by on its slow ride through the city.
Once in the water, it took a couple of minutes to get situated. The river looks calm, but just under the surface there is a strong undertow. The curve is also bit shaded here and a little buggy, but nothing too bothersome.
We soon got our ‘boat’ legs and began paddling downstream. The river opens up dramatically and provides wonderful views of the ‘Floating Meadows’ – the 1000-acre tidal area we were traveling through. The Meadows is an important habitat for animals of all types. It acts as a filter system that cleans polluted water from the Coginchaug and Mattabesset Rivers before emptying into the Connecticut River.
During our trip, we came across some folks from the CT River Conservancy who were working to clear the nearby Mattabesset of the invasive aquatic plant known as water chestnut. We learned a lot about the delicate ecology of the region and learned of the group’s ‘pull’ parties that are held among volunteers to control the plant.
Traveling further down river, we came across the many curves and divots that offer refuge to the animals that call this place home. We found a duck sunning on a log and a fish bubbling to the surface for a quick dragonfly meal.
The river eventually pours into another – the Mattabesset - which also envelops the vast Floating Meadows. But, before getting to that point, we turned our boats around and headed upstream. Under a noon sun, the effort to fight the tide was a bit trying. But, with quick little breaks in-between strokes, we soon found our rhythm and made some headway.
Before docking, we passed yet another kayaker on the river. His aim? -to get some good fishing in. It’s just another example of a visitor looking to connect with a river system with so much to offer.
Directions: Take Rt. 9 S. Turn right onto Hwy 17 N/St Johns Square. Turn right onto Main St. Turn right onto N Main St. Turn left onto Stack St. Turn right onto Johnson St. go to the intersection of North Main and Johnson Streets. Cross the railroad tracks to the transfer station. Turn left and follow the gravel road to the river.
Trail Distance: 2-3 miles
Trail Difficulty: Easy