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Learn About the River


Photo by Paula Jones

The lower Farmington River presents a sharp contrast to its upper reaches in Massachusetts and northern Connecticut. The upper river is generally narrow, swift, and steep-sided, but as it reaches the beginning of the Study Area in Canton and Burlington the river broadens and slows, flowing southeast toward the lowlands of Farmington. In mid-Farmington, the river’s route is blocked by glacial deposits, and it turns sharply north, traversing Avon and Simsbury along an ancient lakebed. This reach of the river is called the “bathtub” because of its relatively placid flow and broad valley, bounded on the east by a traprock ridge. At Tariffville, the river dramatically exits the “bathtub,” punching southeast through a notch in the ridge, then meanders through Bloomfield, East Granby and Windsor before finally entering the Connecticut River.

Salmon Brook resembles the upper reaches of the (Farmington) River, in that it starts in the western highlands of the Study Area and is generally narrow, swift, and has steep sides. The headwater of the West Branch is in Hartland near Sunset Road. The East Branch, not included in the Study Area north of the Connecticut/Massachusetts border, extends into Granville, Massachusetts. The West Branch flows southeast through Hartland, Granby, and East Granby and has three distinct segments: the main stem, approximately 2.4 miles long; the West Branch, approximately 12.6 miles; and the East Branch, which is approximately 11.4 miles. Salmon Brook joins the Farmington River in East Granby, above the East Granby/Simsbury town line. (See Figure 1, Management Plan)

Both the lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook merit designation under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act because they have “Outstandingly Remarkable Values,” aspects that make them exceptional either regionally or nationally. These are referred to as “ORVs”. Through its work, the Study Committee determined the ORVs for the two watercourses to be:

See Chapter 4 of the Management Plan for a detailed description of these areas.