Tributaries & Coves

Hamburg Cove & Eightmile River, Tom Walsh, Shoreline Aerial Photography

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As the Connecticut River runs south from near Canada, water from over 11,000 square miles of land drains into its watershed from many streams and smaller rivers. Various coves, or small sheltered bays, are also commonly found in the river’s valley.  

Over 30 tributaries and coves are located within the Zone, either completely or in part, as the river nears Long Island Sound. The Connecticut River Gateway Commission is responsible for preserving their traditional and scenic appearance.

Each of the eight towns within the Zone has tributaries that flow into or coves that are near the Connecticut River.

aerial photo of the river

Tom Walsh, Shoreline Aerial Photography

A few examples include:

Florence Griswold grounds

Greg Futoma

The Lieutenant River runs through Old Lyme for nearly 4 miles before reaching the Connecticut River. Its scenic journey inspired American Impressionist painters who formed the Old Lyme Art Colony in the early 1900’s, in its time the most famous art colony in the country.

aerial view with boats moving in and out of the cove and mouth

Tom Walsh, Shoreline Aerial Photography

The Eightmile River, federally classified as “wild and scenic,” flows through beautiful natural habitat to reach Hamburg Cove, itself a very popular spot for visiting boaters in summer months.


Judy Preston

Whalebone Cove in Lyme contains 160 acres that are part of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. It is described as one of the most biologically important and undisturbed tidal marshes on the Connecticut River. It also has the largest stand of wild rice in Connecticut.

Connecticut River

Judy Preston

South Cove, Old Saybrook, offers exceptional views of the Connecticut River, especially from a causeway popular for walking or fishing that runs from Saybrook Point to Fenwick.

Aerial view of the Salmon River

Judy Preston

The Salmon River, running for over 10 miles and draining 96,000 acres, may be the largest river with its start and watershed entirely within Connecticut.

The Salmon River Division is also part of the Conte Refuge. The federal government cites its unusual terrestrial habitat types including internationally recognized freshwater tidal marshes and flats, riparian meadows, cold-water streams, floodplain forests, mixed hardwood forest, hemlock stands, and vernal pools.

Other Tributaries & Coves within the Zone

Old Lyme

Back River

Black Hall River

Duck River

Griswold Cove

Lieutenant River


Old Saybrook

Mud River

North Cove

Ragged Rock Creek

South Cove



Deep Creek

Eightmile River/Hamburg Cove

Hadlyme Cove

Lord Creek and Cove

Mack Creek

Seldon Creek and Cove

Upper Pond/Lower Pond

Whalebone Cove


Falls River Cove

Middle Cove

North Cove

South Cove

Turtle Creek


Deep River

Deep River and Deep River Cove

Pratt Creek and Cove

Post Cove



Waterhouse Brook

Chester Creek



Higganum Cove

Mill Creek


East Haddam

Chapman Pond

CT Yankee Inlet

Hurd Brook

Salmon River

Connecticut River

South Cove in Essex, Judy Preston

granite boulders

100s of Years Quarrying Granite in the Lower Connecticut River Valley

With help from the Connecticut River Gateway Commission, the Middlesex Land Trust preserved a quarry in Haddam Neck. The Brainerd Quarry Preserve offers ridgeline paths with breathtaking views of the Connecticut River and Haddam Meadows State Park. In the 18th century, granite blocks were split from outcroppings and sent down the steep hillside to be shipped via the river to New York, Philadelphia, and even New Orleans for construction.