Missisquoi, Vermont, US
|Usual Difficulty||IV (varies with level)|
|MISSISQUOI RIVER AT SWANTON, VT|
|usgs-04294000||4000 - 10000 cfs||IV+||00h30m||2220 cfs (too low)|
If you're looking for a big water run in Vermont, you'll quickly come to realize options are limited to combined week or so of days when runs such as the Mad, North Branch of the Lamoille, Ball Mountain Brook and Wardsboro or Lower New Haven spike big. Enter this stretch of rapids. It may be short, but it provides a rare opportunity to boat class IV big water on a relatively frequent basis.
Found in the lower reaches of the Missiquoi River, this run has a large drainage. It would run at a good level nearly 100 days of the year. Unfortunately it suffers the same fate as nearly every other stretch of large volume river in Vermont blessed with gradient; a dam. That being said it likely runs at a worthwhile flow a good 50 days of the year. The dam is what they call a run of the river dam, in that aside from the regulated fish flow they are required to spill (75 cfs in this case), the power company will use all the remaining water (up to capacity of nearly 3,000 cfs) to generate power. Therefore, for a good level below the dam, you are going to want at minimum 1,000 cfs spilling. There are two USGS run gauges on this river, one in Swanton about a dozen miles downstream, and the other at East Berkshire somewhere between 15-20 miles upstream. The run I am basing the description on occured with what I consider to be a on the high end of medium. The Swanton and East Berkshire gauges were reading 7,500 and 4,800 respectively. I would imagine you could go down to something like 4500/2500 on the gauges, but the lower and upper limits will have to be worked out.
Starts off with a dam, this may be runnable at the right levels but certainly something that would necessitate some heavy scouting and safety. Class V+ at the level we saw it at.
After the dam there is some moving water followed by some class III intro rapids, make your way right for the start of the first rapid.
Rapid 1: Tetanus Schott
Start right work your way around, over or through a couple big wave/holes (this will probably depend on the level as to what forms here) and through the big crashing wave train runout. This is followed by a pool and might have decent surfing at the right levels.
Rapid 2: Big Schott
After the pool comes Big Schott, avoid the big hole by heading right or take the Big Shot line and punch through it. Just be ready to get left, at good levels a big hole lurks just downstream on the right. Eddy out on the left or go straight into...
Cut left around the big hole on the right, but be ready to punch another one. You can eddy out on the left or run...
You're gonna wanna skirt most stuff to the left, couple of big holes in the center. Still some good crashing wave holes to punch in the left line.
Park in the single car dirt area just on river left of the dam, make sure to talk with any dam employees walk down past the concrete barriers and put in at the pool below the dam. To the takeout go out over the bridge (north on shawville road) and take the first left down the long winding road the outlet of the dam. This will be your takeout, make sure to park out of the way.