Poultney - US Route 4 to Carvers Falls Dam


Poultney, Vermont, US

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US Route 4 to Carvers Falls Dam

Usual Difficulty III-IV (for normal flows)
Length 4.5 Miles

Poultney Slide


Poultney Slide
Photo of Paul Berry and Faith Knapp by Nancy Gero taken 05/15/03 @ 300 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
POULTNEY RIVER BELOW FAIR HAVEN, VT
usgs-04280000 150 - 10000 cfs III-IV 03h02m 82 cfs (too low)


River Description

This baby forms part of the Vermont / New York border near the South end of Lake Champlain.

Posted on the VPC message board by Faith Knapp
On a very fine day in May, a group of us decided to go to the Poultney River and run the section from Fair Haven to Carver Falls Dam. Faith, Nancy and John had a wonderful time running this river last June and had great memories of the trip. Only trouble is, John loved telling the stories, and every time he described the slide (which is quite long) it got longer! Well, this time he came armed with his daughter's video camera to prove to those doubting Thomases that such a slide does exist.

We put in near the Vermont Welcome Center and off we went. Just under the Route 4 bridge and about 75 feet downstream, we all got out on the left, careful to stay below the high water mark, to scout the first rapid. Landowners in the area have had some pretty unpleasant experiences with boaters in the past.

A considerable drop with a few rocks showing their faces was our intro the the river. John had his camera ready and got some good movies.

The second drop was the memorable "slide". Only one way down and we all felt that as we reached the bottom we were doing 90 MPH. A couple of us caught the eddy on river (no...slide) left. Others went all the way to the end, and a few perched atop a couple of rocks on slide right. This area could have some incredible dynamics at higher levels with the ledge and rock formations that are there. Some carried up for repeat performances. A short run and strong party permitted more play time -- and several of the drops were run repeatedly.

There are about 8 ledge drops with play areas in this 4 1/2 mi. stretch. We found an island and enjoyed a leisurely lunch in the sun. Soon we came upon the waterfall that does not look particularly nice. Last year Faith & Eric had an interesting swim. Nancy described it as a washing machine seeing arms and legs going in all directions. Not this year! All who ran it did so successfully! John has proof on the video camera. After this drop, there is a short rapid which narrows into a short blind chute. Then for a relaxing paddle to the dam and time to reminisce about the day.

When we decided to paddle this river, we hoped for water and made the decision based on the amount of rain that had fallen in the area the previous couple of days. There is a gauge near Fair Haven as the USGS site describes it. However, last year when we ran it, the gauge was ~ 300 cfs. This year was higher, but the online gauge read ~ 150 cfs. So this is not a reliable indicator of the water level.

With smiles on our faces, we discussed our next adventure on the Poultney. The take out is at Carver Falls Dam, where there is a sign showing the way to the caves nearby. Maybe next time we'll finish with a hike to the caves.
StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2007-02-09 17:33:48

Editors


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Vermont Welcom CenterPutin
0.31st DropII+Photo
1.0Poultney Slide (2nd drop)IIIAccess Photo
2.0Middle rapidsIIPhoto
4.0Last drop (first section)IVPhoto
4.2Last drop (bottom)IV
4.2Last drop (bottom)IV
4.5Take outTakeout
4.5Take outTakeout

Rapid Descriptions

Vermont Welcom Center
Put in at the Vermont Welcome Center in Fairhaven VT. From the front of the welcome center head left towards a field. Go down the hill to the water. Be careful of the old barbwire fence. Seal launch in and head down stream. Beware landowners are not friendly to boaters so try to stay off their land.

1st Drop (Class II+, Mile 0.3)

1st drop

1st drop
Photo of Bruce Saxman by Robert W. Brody taken 10/06

After you pass under the Rt. 4 Bridge you will encounter your first rapid. You will see a horizon line and a small old cement building on river right. To scout, eddy out above the drop on river left. This rapid is very rocky. The best line is river left of center. At the bottom there is a small hole that can stop your speed.

Poultney Slide (2nd drop) (Class III, Mile 1.0)

Poultney Slide

Poultney Slide
Photo of Tom Barry by Robert W. Brody taken 10/06

Before you get to the slide you have some flat water and ripples to go through. You will know that you are approaching the slide when you see a giant rail road bridge. This can be another access point as well. (I can’t remember the road name but if you jump back on Rt. 4 towards NY you will pass over a bridge (the first drop) and turn right onto the first road you see; go down until you pass railroad tracks. Park along the road and hike on the tracks (be careful). Cross the bridge and make your way down to the water via an old path on the right hand side.) To scout the slide, eddy out on river right under the bridge. Walk along the rocks in the center until you see the slide. To run this rapid, head out of the eddy, and paddle straight down stream. You will reach the slide and head down. As soon as you are off the slide there is an eddy on river left with, a strong eddy wall. If you keep heading down stream follow the white water. The river makes a J shape after the slide. The rapid ends with a shallow hole that likes to flip people and scuff up their helmets. After the hole eddy out river left to run safety or watch your buddies.

Middle rapids (Class II, Mile 2.0)

Middle Rapid (opps)

Middle Rapid (opps)
Photo of Kellen by Robert W. Brody taken 10/06

The next three miles are full of small ledges and small surf spots. The first small rapid you will encounter is right under a bridge. There is usually a small hole you can play in here. After you are done playing the river makes another J turn with some small rapids in it. After this rapid there is another small drop that you can scout on river right if you want. The last time I ran this rapid it was low and shallow. Make your way down stream enjoying Vermont’s country side.

Last drop (first section) (Class IV, Mile 4.0)

Last drop (1st part)

Last drop (1st part)
Photo of Robert W. Brody by Kellen taken 10/06

When you see a horizon line, eddy out on river right. Scout the rapid and choose your line. I choose left of center but I have heard of people running right of center and it not being a pleasant experience. After this first section there is a small pool to recover before the end of the rapid.

Last drop (bottom) (Class IV, Mile 4.2)
You ended up in flat water after the first drop of this rapid from here the river makes a right hand turn. Follow the main flow right into a hole. I recommend scouting the hole and possible setting up safety. It’s not the nicest looking hole and last time I ran it I got munch twice before I paddle out. If you want to avoid this either walk around on river right or take a small shallow shoot over river right before the hole.

Last drop (bottom) (Class IV, Mile 4.2)
You ended up in flat water after the first drop of this rapid from here the river makes a right hand turn. Follow the main flow right into a hole. I recommend scouting the hole and possible setting up safety. It’s not the nicest looking hole and last time I ran it I got munch twice before I paddle out. If you want to avoid this either walk around on river right or take a small shallow shoot over river right before the hole.

Take out
After the last rapid paddle along the flat water until you see signs for the Carver Falls Dam and a trail on river left. Follow the trail to your car. For direction of the take out look up the dam on Google or wait for a undated from me so I can get the road names.

Take out
After the last rapid paddle along the flat water until you see signs for the Carver Falls Dam and a trail on river left. Follow the trail to your car. For direction of the take out look up the dam on Google or wait for a undated from me so I can get the road names.


User Comments


2011-09-07 11:06:41 (1141 days ago)
We went to the Poultney today, 9/7/11 @ 750~ish CFS. Awesome time! No wood in the rapids. The only
noticeable differences were: 1. The fence behind the Visitor's Center along the river came down,
making for a much easier seal-launch. 2. The banks are eroded a bit, but did not change the main
features of the river. 3. There are some trees down in the flat in-between parts. 4. There is a
strainer after the last rapid where the river divides in two from a large sand bar. The right
channel is COMPLETELY blocked by a river-wide strainer. After the last rapid, just make sure you
hit the left channel. 5. The most problematic part of the flooding is probably finding a good spot
to get out. The normal portage where the signs are before the dam is very hard to get out from
because all of the sediments and clay are new and washed over the banks. We couldn't even walk
through it, I sank in to my knees and had to pull my boat right up to me so that I could lay on it
and wiggle my leg back out. Don't try to walk through that stuff unless you want to get stuck or
sink in muddy clay. We just paddled further down, right up to the RIVER LEFT side of the dam (be
careful, the river gets narrow and if you go too far right you'll go over the dam) where the little
dam control building is and clambered our way over the bank which is also covered in the same mucky
clay. There was a tree that we used to avoid stepping in the muck. Try to spend as little time
there as you can, as it's technically trespassing. You can walk to the parking lot by following the
chain link fence.

2011-09-05 02:01:50 (1143 days ago)
Mark LacroixDetails
On August 28th, 2011 Hurricane Irene struck New England. The resulting floods caused extensive
damage throughout the region, the worst in over 100 years. More than half the rivers in Vermont and
northern New Hampshire recorded their highest flow levels ever. Many roads, guardrails, power
lines, bridges, trees and other debris now litter several rivers throughout the region. River beds
have been scoured and changed course, many new strainers make navigation problematic at best and
downright dangerous at worse. Please realize that the river description you see here may not match
current situation after the floods. Use common sense and when in doubt scout especially on blind
drops. Also, if you run this river in the next year or so please comment on its navigability, even
if there are no problems this will be very helpful. Please report any new strainers or changes to
the rapids that will impact future boating. Thank you,

2007-05-29 08:40:43 (2703 days ago)
Robert BrodyDetails
There is a strainer above the --Slide-- as of 5/20/07

2005-05-02 00:19:35 (3461 days ago)
Todd HanerDetails
Some nice fairly easy drops, a few rapids and a bit of flat. Not really to pushy. Went like
this.

We stared the run near the VT Welcome Center with an otter slide in! This of course was after we
crossed a non barbed fence that was partly fixed on a bank that had broken away in recent spring
flow. A few yards of flat brings you under the road past a dead beaver on river left and to the
first drop. Pretty straight forward line is visible just left of center but to be safe we were
ready with ropes. It's a steep grade but not really ledgey, Can be seen from Rt.4
Next I recall a few flat yards downstream was a really interesting slide. The flow was lower than
we expected and most of the water was heading straight down a mildly steep grade in a lazy s. A
fair sized eddy was available if you stay far left on the slide. If you cross it with a planning
hull you'll skip like a rock lol. However most of us (three of four) stayed center and the end of
the slide was somewhat rough shallow and definitely fast. A larger flow would have given you the
option to go right, down two other steeper slides into what would probably be holes at the
base.
If I remember correctly next were a couple decent short class II rapids. Then the
"waterfall" a pretty ledgy drop into a pool with a big back current in the center and
most of river left side. We ran it on the right landing between river right shore line and a big
boulder that sat just to the right of center left of paddler lol. Now directly after this drop is a
narrow slide that is split by a rock Island. At the end of the island on the left route is a big
sticky hole that seemed fairly easy for James and Pete to get around on the far left in their
creekers. To run it on river right of the island you must paddle hard at the fork up a swollen
shoulder of water, a funny current that "fakes right and goes left"! If you make it over
that it's cake and you are home free. Don't flip there cause it's somewhat shallow on the slide
over a boulder.
I may have forgotten one or two somewhat inconsequential rapids or small ledges but for the most
part that sums it up. The end is a quarter mile or so of flat slow moving water surrounded by steep
clay bare banks. We did see one fat live beaver and four deer crossing the river, no they weren't
together lol... Plus a pair of Canada geese. I think all together twas a fun run. Could have been
more of a challenge at higher flow. The AW guage seemed way off so it seemed lower than we
expected. As far as access goes we didn't have to portage anything and I really didn't see any
dwellings too close to the banks so I imagine you're fine. I did notice some no trespass signs here
and there.
~todd
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