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Difficulty IV(V)
Length 3 Miles
Flow Range 350 - 2000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 36 minutes ago ~ 10.5 [CFS] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 06/28/2018 8:09 pm

River Description

The Dead Branch is a continuous Class IV boulder garden with one class V rapid towards the bottom.  It is swamp fed and can be run rather low the day after a good rain, or it can be run the day of the rain at higher flows for more of a class V feeling.  

There is a rapid under the bridge at put-in.  This rapid is easier than the meatier rapids in the heart of the Dead Branch.  If it does not look like fun, drive over and run one of the sections of the Westfield proper.  If there are eddies in this rapid, you should have eddies below.  If it is a big, continuous rapid, expect the same (but bigger and longer) for your run.  Below the warm-up rapids is a mile or so of flatwater and class I-II before the river picks up.  

The continuous section of the Dead Branch is mostly boat-scoutable.  It lacks distinct named rapids, and at medium or lower flows has plenty of eddies throughout.  At high water (maybe after a Potash lap?), this section is long, non-stop class V read-and-run whitewater with no terribly difficult moves and very few opportunities to stop.  Swimming is not advised and wood should be a serious concern.

The river calms down a little before the biggest and most distinct rapid, Vlad the Impaler, named for the ominous undercut rock and cave on the bottom right of the slide.  The river turns 90 degrees to the right before Vlad.  Eddy and scout from the left.

Below Vlad the river slowly tapers down to class II.  Paddle down about half of a mile to your car, which should be parked along side the river on Indian Hollow Road towards the confluence with the Westfield River.  

Rapid Descriptions

Vlad the Impaler

Class - 5.0 Mile - 2.5

Follow the water down the middle and punch the hole at the bottom.  Watch out for the undercut cave on the right and the piton on the left.


Gage Descriptions

People use the Mill River in Northamption.  I think 400 CFS is low/runnable.

Directions Description

Put-in where South Street crosses the river in Chesterfield, MA - just east of the intersection with Cowper Rd.  Head northwest on South St. for 0.4 miles before turning left on Indian Hollow Road.  Drive to the bottom of Indian Hollow Road (1.5 miles).  Park at the end of the road.

No Accident Reports



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Join Us for the (virtual) Deerfield Fest this Friday!

Robert Nasdor

Whitewater boaters from Maine to Pennsylvania gather each June in Charlemont, MA to celebrate whitewater boating and American Whitewater's river advocacy to protect, restore, and enjoy our northeast rivers. While we can't gather in-person this year, we'll be having a virtual Deerfield Fest Membership Event this Friday, June 26th at 7 pm (EST) . We'll be giving away some fun AW merchandise and other prizes for those who JOIN or RENEW their AW Membership and join us on Friday, so REGISTER for the virtual Deerfield River Membership Event today and join us for this fun event in support of AW. (Photo by Alan MacRae)

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Deerfield River (MA) Flow Studies to Explore New & Improved Boating Opportunity

Robert Nasdor

In response to requests by American Whitewater, several affiliates, and other stakeholders, FERC directed Brookfield Renewable to study the impact of its hydropower operations on whitewater boating on the Deerfield River in western Massachusetts. Boating groups and our supporters are seeking to determine optimal whitewater boating flows from the Fife Brook Dam and whether changes in hydropower operations would enhance boating opportunities, access and navigation.

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AW Responds To Connecticut River Boating Study (MA)

Robert Nasdor

American Whitewater, along with other paddling groups and outfitters, filed comments with FERC responding to the Whitewater Boating Evaluation at Turners Falls on the Connecticut River. The study showed that there is strong demand for boating on this section of the Connecticut River if sufficient flows, scheduled releases, better access, and real-time information are provided. The groups filed the comments in order to provide additional information for the environmental review and to respond to the unsupported statements by FirstLight, the utility performing the study, claiming that there is little demand for boating at Turners Falls.

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Bellows Falls (VT) Flow Study Reveals Hidden Whitewater

Robert Nasdor

A hardy group of northeast boaters climbed into the natural river channel below a hydropower dam to participate in a flow study designed to assess whether whitewater flows should be restored to this dewatered river reach on the Connecticut River. While significant obstacles remain, this site has the potential for providing instruction, playboating, and a big water feature that that could be run throughout much of the year and provide a much needed boost to the local economy. 


Nathan Warren


Alex Barham


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1203438 06/02/14 Nathan Warren n/a
1203439 06/02/14 Nathan Warren nw
1203444 06/02/14 Nathan Warren nw
1203445 06/02/14 Nathan Warren nw
1203446 06/02/14 Nathan Warren nw
1209686 05/23/18 Alex Barham Location
1209688 05/23/18 Alex Barham Name Changed
1209956 06/28/18 Nathan Warren nw