Connecticut - 1. Turners Falls Dam Bypass Reach

Connecticut, Massachusetts, US


1. Turners Falls Dam Bypass Reach

Usual Difficulty II-III (for normal flows)
Length 2.5 Miles

MA Energy and Environmental Secretary and Staff Rafts Turners Falls at 4500 cfs

MA Energy and Environmental Secretary and Staff Rafts Turners Falls at 4500 cfs
Photo by Bob Nasdor taken 05/25/16

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-01170500 2000 - 10000 cfs II-III 00h47m 11500 cfs (too high)

River Description

Fish Study to Provide Paddling Opportuniies: May - June 2016

There will be continuous boatable flows in the Turner Falls bypass reach the entire month of May and some of June. Please try to use these flow and build interest in the reach. Flows between 2500 and 4400 cfs are excellent; flows of 1500 cfs are still paddlable. Schedule below.

The flows are part of a fish study. They want to determine if an altrasound array at the power station can keep shad away from the outflow so they will move upriver to the dam where a new fish passage devide would be installed. They will radio monitor a number of the shad releases from the Holyoke Dam. Once those fish have been recorded at Turners Falls, these flows may end. The May flows, which are the best, are pretty sure; the first two weeks of June have a good probability of happening; but the last two weeks of June may prove iffy.

Put-in and Paddling:

You can carry your boats on the right past the Discovery Center, across a little iron bridge that crosses the power canal, and then bear LEFT and circle back around downhill toward the right to the river’s edge. It’s a couple hundred yards carry and there’s nothing steep.

On your right will be the Turners Falls Dam. Straight ahead and to the left, you’ll see an island and the ledges that are marked on the accompanying map as Opening Ledges. Depending on water level, these ledges may be paddled on either side of the island.

On the bypass run, which is about 2 1/2 miles or more, you’ll find the Opening Ledges of interest. Below, depending on water levels, there may be some Class I-II features. At levels above 10,000 cfs, more features such as surfing waves appear in several places. At higher flow levels, be sure you’re with a group experienced in big water rescue. Eventually, you encounter a small island on the right and a bigger island midstream. For paddlers with beginner skills, the two right channels may be the best choice. If you stay river left, you will come to the horizon line at Rock Dam. You don’t have to run Rock Dam; just follow around the islands to the right.

Rock Dam is a volcanic ridge that runs from the left shore to the island, with two breaks on the far river left. At water levels from about 2000 to 5000 cfs, this may be a Class II or Class III drop. At higher levels the whole ridge begins to wash out. Scouting is advised. Below Rock Dam, a large eddy forms behind the ridge at lower flows. If you have problems, head up the trails on river left, which lead to roadways.

The Poplar Street take-out is a ways downstream on river left under the bridge mentioned below.


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2018-06-11 17:36:27


Rapid Descriptions

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