Head for the Hills — Oswegatchie, That Is — for Annual Niantic River Kayak Regatta

From a water’s-eye view on the Niantic River, an unbroken swath of green rises majestically on East Lyme’s western bank that contrasts with the houses, marinas and nuclear power plants spread out on the eastern shore and beyond.

These are the Oswegatchie Hills, a 420-acre Nature Preserve that comprises one of the largest sections of open space along Connecticut’s highly developed shoreline.

The preserve’s views reward from land as well as from water. Officially opened in 2007, it includes more than 3 miles of trails that meander past an abandoned pink granite quarry, alongside ponds and streams and through dense forest. Along with the Barn Island Wildlife Management Area in Stonington, Bluff Point Coastal Reserve in Groton and Rocky Neck State Park in East Lyme, the Oswegatchie Hills Nature Preserve offers some of the best hiking with water views in southeastern Connecticut.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. next Saturday, Aug. 18, a group devoted to preserving the hills plans to stage its ninth annual Niantic River Appreciation Day Kayak Regatta, partly a parade, partly a race but mostly a celebration of efforts to keep the hills unspoiled. I hope to be there to support the cause and to enjoy a paddle among fellow kayaking enthusiasts.

The free event is sponsored by the organization Save the River-Save the Hills, which for nearly a decade has been fighting to block or limit a Middletown developer who has repeatedly applied to build a high-density housing complex in the hills adjacent to the preserve. I hope the preservationists win, because, as is sadly often repeated, once such treasured land is built upon it is forever devalued and defaced.

Save the River-Save the Hills also has sponsored programs on water quality testing, watershed education and a pumpout boat. More information about the group and Saturday’s event is available on the website SavetheRiver-SavetheHills.org.

Participants may launch their kayaks at 10 a.m. or earlier at Three Belles Marina, 113 Oswegatchie Hills Road, Niantic.

The parade starts at 10:15 in front of 47 Oswegatchie Road, followed by short races for different classes of boats at 1 p.m.

There will be music, food, a fire boat demonstration and a drawing for prizes.

Hope to see you there!


Reader Comments


Beware The Deadly Deer

Every season presents the potential for paradise or peril.

Autumn Berries: A Succulent Reward During A Long Bike Ride

While biking through the hills and along the shore of Mystic and Stonington the other day with my friend Spyros "Spy" Barres and son Tom, I began to regret that I neglected to bring along a water bottle.

The Rites – And Wrongs – Of Autumn

It’s finally happened: I’ve grown so accustomed to the roar of the leaf blower that I now longer recoil and curse at the first sonic blast of fall, but simply shake my head and sigh.

Privacy/Preservation: The Roads Not Taken At Fishers Island And Other Enclaves

Imagine strolling to the tip of one of Connecticut’s most magnificent natural habitats, Bluff Point Coastal Reserve in Groton, and instead of gazing at tidal marshes, salt ponds and sweeping, unspoiled view of Fishers Island Sound,...

Part II: Serenity, Solitude And Soggy Socks In The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

When we last left Tom and Steve, they were paddling through muck and mire (though mostly sparkling water) in northeastern Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Here is the second and final installment describing...

Serenity, Solitude And Soggy Socks In The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

Gusty blasts that shook our tent during the night blew away thick clouds and rain showers, bringing morning sunshine that sparkled on Cherokee Lake when my son Tom and I crawled from sleeping bags last week.

The Continental Divide Trail: 'Overall It's Amazing, But You Have To Be OK With Getting Lost'

After tramping more than a month some 700 miles along the fabled Continental Divide Trail, Mystic native Hilary Sueoka and her boyfriend, Dan Stedman, who started hiking April 22 at the U.S.-Mexican border, finally rambled from the...

The Josh Billings Runaground Triathlon: Racing Is The Easy Part.

By the time Phil Warner and I hit the water in his lightning-fast tandem kayak last Sunday for our team’s leg in the Josh Billings Runaground Triathlon in Lenox, Mass., we had already spent a good part of the morning lugging gear...

There’s No Accounting For Taste When It Comes To Favorite Mountains, Or Tacos

En route to a hiking expedition in Nepal’s Himalayas a number of years ago, my wife and I took a detour to India and spent a day bouncing along on a bus from New Delhi to Agra to tour the Taj Mahal.

Mount McKinley Renamed Denali: Better Than Mount Reagan

Three cheers for the Obama Administration’s decision this week to officially restore the name of North America’s tallest mountain to Denali, which is what early inhabitants called the 20,310-foot peak in the Alaska Range.