Sunrise State Park
Even though fall is nipping at our heels, there’s still time to hit the water, or at least float atop of it. Now that I have my water legs, I can’t stop exploring the various rivers and lakes offered up to kayakers and paddlers. Recently, I joined a group of friends for one such trip on the Salmon River in the Moodus section of East Haddam.
The peace and quiet of this aquatic landscape is what drew us to the river. But, it appears, on this mild morning, many folks had the same idea. The small parking lot at Sunrise State Park filled up quickly, as people pulled their boats and paddle boards from their cars. And for those visitors not as prepared, they rented a kayak on-site instead.
Despite the crowded lot, the river appeared almost deserted - holding promise for a quiet jaunt on the water. We glided in smoothly and made our way upriver. We quickly spread out across the water, each moving along at our own pace.
I hung back for much of this trip curious to observe the subtle nuances along the river’s edge. The river branches off to make way for an island in its path. We took the left branch – a sliver of a waterway crowded with reeds and banked by homes.
We winded our way through this intimate jungle before entering a culvert that took us under Route 151. The tunnel is dark and narrow but pretty cool to maneuver through. Reemerging into the sunshine, I could hear the roar of the waters flowing over the small dam just to our left.
Leesville Dam is part of a fish ladder system that is popular with fishermen and paddlers in this area. As you can imagine, kayakers must work against the current to get a close-up view of the falls. But, it’s worth the effort to see the power of the water as it tumbles and disperses into the river we just paddled through.
After taking a quick respite in a near-by eddy, I caught up with my fellow paddlers and made my way back downstream in essentially one big loop.
The journey was just as picturesque and relaxing as it was on the way up the river – a truly great way to wind down the season.
Directions: Take CT-9 S to 17N/St. Johns Square (signs for Rt. 66 E/Portland/Willimantic). Turn right onto Main St. Turn right onto CT-66 E/Marlborough St. Turn right onto CT-151 S to Sunrise State Park. Turn into the park and follow signs down to the river.
Trail Distance: @ 2 miles
Trail Difficulty: Easy