Throughout time, the Housatonic River has provided bountiful recreational opportunities. There are more than 100,000 acres of public recreation land in the watershed, offering hunting, hiking, camping, winter sports and water-based activities.
The waters of the Housatonic River provide excellent white-water canoeing, kayaking, tubing, boating and swimming. For the expert, Rattlesnake Rapids in Falls Village and Bull's Bridge in Kent offer challenging white-water runs. Flat water canoeing is at its best in the gentler currents found through southern Massachusetts, West Cornwall and Kent as the river flows past meadows and picturesque farms. Hikers will enjoy a splendid view of the river from the Appalachian Trail where it parallels the river as it passes through Sharon, Cornwall and Kent.
Fishing is a major activity along the entire length of the river and its tributaries. Trout, bass, and perch abound and some of the best fly fishing can be found in southwestern Massachusetts and northwestern Connecticut. Farther south, Candlewood Lake and the Housatonic's three instream lakes, Lillinonah, Zoar and Housatonic provide opportunities for motor boating, fishing, water-skiing and swimming. Near the Shepaug Dam, one can view the endangered bald eagle, nesting and feeding near the river during the winter months.
The tidal Housatonic estuary provides coastal recreation, commercial fishing and critical habitats for rare plants and animals. The estuary is also a significant contributor to the state's shellfish population, is the most consistent producer of seed oysters in the northeast as a public oyster bed and generates over one-third of all oyster seed available to the state shellfish industry.
The role of the Housatonic River in our future lives will depend on how well we learn to balance the many competing, and often conflicting, demands that we make on the river and its surrounding lands.