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The characteristics of the Hockanum River are such that canoeists and kayakers can be found enjoying it during most seasons of the year. As an aid to these river users, the Town of Manchester has on its web site information of canoe/keyak takeout points along the river, as well as general river conditions near them.
> To view the Town of Manchester takeout points and river conditions page, please click here.
> Also, to view the Connecticut Water Trails Association web site's information on paddling along the Hockanum River, please click here.
In addition the New England Canoe & Kayak Racing Association (NECKRA) sponsors a series of canoe and kayak races throughout the year, including a race along the Hockanum River in early April each year.
The annual race is open to any paddlers who wish to enjoy chilly water and thrilling rapids on a very winding 7 mile
course through Manchester, CT. Folks of all ages come out for a fun day on the river. The race is sponsored in part by
the Hockanum River Linear Park Committee, which is a watershed partner with the North Central Conservation District.
There is one mandatory portage around the Union Pond Dam at the southwest corner of the Union Pond section of the river. This is a timed race with boats going off at about 30 second to 1 minute intervals. There are 16 different categories of canoes and kayaks depending on sizes and designs of boats, numbers of paddlers, ages, etc. and there is an award for each category.
Each paddler must wear an approved personal floatation device and must bring a length of line to attach to his or her boat. Wetsuits are recommended due to the cold water in the river. Getting wet is almost totally unavoidable. Goggles and or helmets are highly recommended due to the numerous hanging branches over the waterway. The average length of the race ranges from just over 1 hour for experts to over 1½ hours. The race offers a challenging course of class 1 and 2 white water. Novice boaters with no experience in canoes or kayaks are urged NOT to enter this race due to class 2 rapids behind Beacon Light off Oakland Street. View these rapids from shore before entering the race.
Andy McKenzie is Race Chairman, and has had the job since 2004. The first race was held in April 1977 and F. Lee Watkins was director for 13 years. John Scoville ran the race from 1990 through 2003. Andy will give detailed instructions before the race starts regarding course and various hazards. Hockanum Tee shirts will be given to winners in all categories and race results will be announced shortly after the race concludes.
Several local volunteer groups assist to make the race safe and successful. The Manchester Eighth District Fire Department monitors the course through the rapids with staff in wetsuits, has a rescue boat on Union Pond, and supervises portage at Union Pond Dam. The BEARS Amateur Radio Club of Manchester stations members at various key spots along the river for safety and communication to staff at the race finish. Other supporters of the race include the Talcottville Development Company, the host property owner for many years, Beacon Light and Supply, where a large group of spectators gather to watch boats navigate the rapids and H.J. Contractors and McDonalds where the race ends.
> To view the results of the 2013 Manchester Hockanum River Canoe/Kayak race on the NECKRA website, please click: here.
> To view an article in the Hartford Courant on the race and the best places to view it from, please click here.
Click on any of the photo icons to "walk" through the photo gallery of this activity.