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.
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.
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Permits are not required for this reach.
Directions for Turners Falls Dam bypass reach
If you’re coming from the east on Route 2, turn left toward Turners Falls on the Gill-Montague Bridge that spans the Connecticut River. This intersection is a short distance beyond the Barton Cove boat ramp. The street is called Main Road or Avenue A, and there is a stoplight and a gas station on your right at the intersection. Immediately after crossing the river, take your first right and then enter the Great Falls Discovery Center parking lot. If no big events are happening, this could be a good staging area.
From the south and west, take I-91 north to the exit just beyond Greenfield for Rte 2 EAST toward Boston, and follow Rte 2 about five miles to the second light. Turn right on the big bridge and then pick up the directions above.
Shuttle your vehicles down to the Poplar Street take-out in Turners Falls. When you exit the Great Falls Discovery Center parking lot, you have to go right on a one-way street. Circle back around to Avenue A, which is the same road you took across the bridge. Take a right on Avenue A for a couple miles until you see Greenfield Road on the left. (If you cross a bridge, you went too far.) Take Greenfield Road a short distance to a right hand turn on Poplar Street. Follow to its end, where there is a primitive take-out more-or-less underneath a bridge.
Please be very clean and respectful. This is a residential neighborhood. For heaven’s sake, avoid littering, nudity, and drinking.
Rock Dam Center Channel
Rock Dam Main Drop Tongue
Rock Dam Main Drop
First Power Outflow
Far Ledges at Put-In
Turners Fall Bypass
MA Energy and Environmental Secretary and Staff Rafts Turners Falls at 4500 cfs
Release Schedule May-June 2016
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
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.
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.
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.
Log into the American Whitewater website and you can contribute to river descriptions,
flow and access tips, and maps associated with runs you've done. You can even add new
runs to the inventory!