A Unique Experience: Camping on an Island in the Connecticut River


Submitted a year ago
Created by
Katie Donovan

Sleeping on Gilman Island 

One of my most memorable summer excursions in the Upper Valley was when I was invited to go on an overnight camping adventure with a work colleague on the Conneticut River.  They rented canoes from Ledyard Canoe Club ($20 a night) and we all paddled down with our gear about a .5 mile down the river to Gilman Island where we set up camp for the night.

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What a treasure to camp out on an island in the middle of the Connecticut River, so serene in the middle of the chaotic churn of life.  

I explored the island on my own with its wooded canopy and views of the river throughout my walk.  Later we enjoyed smores over the firepit and shared stories.  In the evening we paddled along the river.  I let my hand glide through the silky water and enjoyed the stars shimmering in its reflection.  

In the morning we headed back and it became a treasured memory I hoped one day to repeat.

Since this experience I have since learned that the island camp is maintained by LL Bean Discovery School and is used on a first come first served basis.  You can see a calendar of people planning to use the different river campsites and see if Gilman Island is being used here.  The LL Bean Discovery School sometimes has times when volunteers can go and help maintain the island campsite too.

If tenting isn't your style or you need more space, you can also rent the newly rebuilt Titcomb cabin on Gilman Island (4 weeks in advance if you're not a Ledyard Club member) for $5-20 per person depending on if you're a member.  You can rent it three seasons out of the year.

Enjoying Sumner Falls

Another option is to rent canoes and do a two day two night paddle and camping trip from Hartford, VT to Claremont, NH. There are multiple options of islands to camp on during your journey and Great River will come and pick you up.  You'll get to Sumner Falls on your journey too! You can learn more about the trip here and about Great River Outfitters other camping options here.  The the pricing guide for summer excursions is here.

Grab your napsack and enjoy a piece of solitude close to home.

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