The Ausable Chasm is a committing Class IV/IV+ river in a vertical walled canyon. Paddling high quality rapids through an east coast slot canyon provides an extraordinary and unique experience for advanced whitewater paddlers. The river offers 6 to 8 high quality class IV rapids ranging from vertical ledges to long slides, to rapids laced with waves and holes. After paddling the Chasm, paddlers must paddle out over a couple miles of swiftly moving but shallow flatwater. Suitable natural flows are common throughout the year, including summer and fall, which is a regional rarity. The river can be run quite low. 3
Wood and metal debris are present in the Chasm, and metal debris has specifically been noted above and immediately below Mike's Hole. The debris pose the largest threat to paddlers in the Chasm, and shifts regularly between seasons from ice action.
NOTE: In 2017 a house-sized rock fell from the wall into the water upstream of Mikes Hole. It has had little effect on the run at regular flows but at 1000+ cfs Mikes hole has become a river wide keeper hole where before it flushed on the left.
Federal regulators allow the power company to close their access area to prevent river access between halloween and memorial day weeked, so the Chasm is open June-October. The Ausable Chasm Company provides hiking, viewing, and scouting opportunities on numerous decks and walkways in the gorge (for a fee). Once on the river, scout and portage only below the high water mark to avoid trespassing on Ausable Chasm Company lands. Do not park in the bar's parking lot at the put in - stick to the provided spaces or park legally elsewhere. There is a public lot near the bridge that you can park in after dropping off your gear. Please recognize that we are new visitors to the area, so respectful behavior is critical.
Historically the power company blocked all public access. American Whitewater negotiated a whitewater flow study and led advocacy for public access After several years and letter-writing campaigns, paddlers gained legal access to Ausable Chasm in 2010!
Ausable River to Open June 18, 2010!, June 14, 2010
New York Area Boaters Get an Early Christmas Gift!, December 23, 2004
Yankee Ingenuity Alive and Well in Upper New York State, November 12, 2001;Paddlers' Alert--Ausable River, February 14, 2002;2002 Top 10 Conservation and Access Issues, November 14, 2002;AW in the NorthEast, 2004;River Stewardship Issues for 2004, October 7, 2004;Comments on the Ausable, April 28, 2004; andAusable Chasm Open Flow Study Planned, May 31, 2005.
Lat/longitude coords are approximate, from TopoZone.
Plattsburgh Area Reaches
Ausable (Ausable Chasm) Ausable, E. Branch
Ausable, W. Branch (4. High Falls Gorge) Ausable, W. Branch (5. The Flume)
Ausable, W. Branch (Section 6) Black Brook
Boquet, S. Branch Boquet, N. Branch
Chateaugay Great Chazy (Chazy Lake to Miner Lake)
Great Chazy (Miner Lake to Mooers) Great Chazy, North Branch
Little Black Brook Little Trout
Salmon (Lake Champlain) Saranac (Permanent Rapids)
Saranac (1. Union Falls to Silver Lake Road) Saranac (2. Silver Lake Road to Redford)
Saranac (3. High Falls Gorge) Saranac (Sec. 4)
Google Map of New York Whitewater
New York Whitewater Paddlers Facebook Group
The put in for the Ausable Chasm is owned by the power company and has historically been closed to paddlers. In Spring 2010, based on years of work by AW and local volunteers, the FERC granted paddlers access.
This rapid is a fun little slide with a wave-hole to crash through. This is a good warm up rapid for the slides that follow.
This is a fun slide with a diagonal hole at the bottom. Immediately after this slide is Elephant Rock.
At low flows, the hole at the bottom can be extremely retentive, even to swimmers. At higher flows, this risk is lower. If worried, set safety on river right.
The left line through Elephant Head is a good sneak route that avoids the more difficult right line. You can see the big rock in the middle of the river that splits the flow. The left line is right next to, and wrapping around this rock.
The line is far river right, a short boof onto a ledge, before eventually dropping off the ledge 20-30 yards downstream.
The picture is the Hero Line through Elephant Head Rapid and that line is the toughest challenge on the run. Note: as of June, 2010, the Hero Line is even tougher, and paddlers are warned away from it.
This long class IV rapid has the excitement of a fairly blind start and big holes and waves all the way down. At the bottom a rock spire splits the current and most paddlers eddy out on the right and then ferry back across the current to exit on the left.
Mike's hole is a solid Class IV rapid with multiple hazards. First and foremost is the debris left in the river by the Chasm Company. There is a large I-beam in the lead-in on river left, as well as some other metal debris. There is also metal gates and debris just under the surface below the hole and debris in the right side of the hole. Obviously something must be done about this. The debris also moves around so scout and be careful!The line, however, is to stay right through the lead-in and then skitter left into the eddy next to Mike's Hole. The wall on the right, next to the hole, is undercut.
Mike's Hole itself is relatively easy to avoid by boofing left at medium flows. NOTE: In 2017 a house-sized rock fell from the wall into the water upstream of Mikes Hole. It has had little effect on the run at regular flows but at 1000+ cfs Mikes hole has become a river wide keeper hole where before it flushed on the left.
Put in is:
37 Old State Rd, Keeseville, NY 12911
Just before the bridge on the left there are four spots. Access to the the water is directly to the right of the power company gates
Paddled the chasm on 8/31/2012 at 257 cfs. We did not encounter wood or beams in play; but saw beams on the side of the chasm so its probably best to scout if in doubt or after heavy rain. The rapids are boatable at this level (not deserving of the IV+ ratings though). The paddle out was boney (a few parts we did need to portage), but from our groups perspective, worth it for the experience of the chasm if you are not usually in the area.
At 450cfs we had 5 runs of Elephant though the meat. A center line in the chute driving hard right and tight to the right wall. We had one swim and there was another swim by another group. The reported hazardous pin rock in the right of elephant was undetected by our boaters and was frankly reported by the chasm mgmt and not a class 4-5 boater (to my knowledge) take it for what it's worth and use your own best judgement. The 2nd rapid under the bridge is the most deceiving and so far sees the most swims outside of the rare running of Elephant.
The Chasm is finally Open for boaters on Friday 6-18-2010 barring any last minute issues with access. It should be available every day through October. The Chasm owners have made it known not to scout above the Medium High water mark or legal action may be taken. They have mentioned that they think Elephant rock has a New Significant Pinning rock in the right line...Hero Line if you will. Look for the River Left channel at Elephant Rock for a first run.
9 years ago
by Wayne Gman
During the 2005 flow study the Ausable Chasm was paddled as low as 280 cfs, which was very low but runnable. Flows in the 600 cfs range were great. At higher flows Mike's Hole becomes retentive.
Permits are not required for this reach.
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Right side elephant
Right side elephant
Rapid after elephant
Left Side of Elephant Rock, Ausable
Mikes Hole on the Ausable
The pinch of the Chasm
Lead in to Mikes Hole
Slide on the Chasm
Long Fun Class IV on the Ausable
Elephant Rock Rapid
Second Ausable Rapid
Put In on the Ausable
Bridge at Ausable Chasm
Ausable Chasm Flow Study
I - beam rapid
exiting the gorge
rapid #4 (upstream look)
rapid #4, Devils oven (?)
Steel in Eddy below last Rapid
Steel Bar in Run out
Submerged steel in run out
I Beam towards the run out of last Rapid
I-Beam Last Rapid
Steel in Last Major Rapid
Flow study participants enjoy the incredible scenery in the Ausable Chasm
Rainbow Falls on Ausable River
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.
New York State Electric and Gas opened their gate to the Ausable River on May 25, 2012, and will continue to provide access through October 31, 2012. Public access to this natural wonder is the direct result of a decade advocacy by American Whitewater and Adirondack Mountain Club.
The power company's gate will be unlocked this Saturday on the Ausable River, granting access to the Ausable Chasm, and will remain open until the end of October. Currently flows in the Ausable Chasm are far above the recommended range, and AW has been made aware that new wood has washed into the river, possibly creating hazards or passage issues.
2010 marked the 25th anniversary of protecting the Black and Moose rivers! View an online video documentary on the Moose River and the early role that American Whitewater played in protecting this amazing river.
Efforts by the Ausable Chasm Company to discourage legal public enjoyment of the Ausable River through intimidation have not thus far resulted in the State of New York filing any trespassing charges against paddlers. The State generally supports recreational use of its navigable rivers like the Ausable. Paddlers wanting to paddle the river are encouraged to read this article before their trip and make their own decision on whether or not to paddle.
Last weekend marked a major success for the paddling community: federally mandated river access at the power company lands at the put in for the Ausable Chasm. Unfortunately, in a surprize move the Ausable Chasm Company, which owns the land in the river corridor, had police onsite to write trespassing tickets for several paddlers.American Whitewater is seeking legal assistance regarding this matter. If you are an attorney in the State of New York and are interested in this issue, please promptly contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
New York State Electric and Gas (NYSEG), under an order from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), plans to open New York's Ausable Chasm to paddlers on Friday, June 18th, 2010. American Whitewater would like to thank our volunteer Jared Hogle for all his assistance on this project. In addition, it is likely that more paddlers sent FERC comments on this issue than on any other FERC project in the Country. Congratulations to all of you, and we wish you many great runs on the Ausable!
Many paddlers are contacting AW about the Ausable Chasm, which was supposed to be opened to paddling for Memorial Day weekend based on a whitewater recreation plan filed in November 2009. All FERC needs to do is publish a simple letter accepting the plan, yet for the past six months they have failed to do so. With the Class IV+ Ausable at a perfect boating flow for the Holiday weekend, we regretfully report that the gate remains locked.
American Whitewater is pleased to recognize Jared Hogle as our Volunteer of the Month for December, 2009. Jared was and remains the leading local advocate for access to New York's Ausable Chasm and other regional rivers. In recognition of his efforts Jason will be receiving an OuterCore Long-Sleeve Shirt from Kokatat!
Today, American Whitewater filed a formal challenge of a May 1, 2009 decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to prohibit public boating access to New York’s Ausable River for 7 months of the year, while allowing access the other 5 months. Securing 5 months each year of public river access to this incomparable river - after decades of no access whatsoever - is certainly a major success for American Whitewater and the paddling community. While we are challenging the unfounded 7-month annual closure, we would like to thank the many paddlers and organizations that wrote FERC in favor of public access to the Ausable River over the past several years.
Yesterday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released its Environmental Assessment (EA) of boating on the Ausable Chasm. The EA marks a critical milestone in the paddling community’s efforts to secure access to the beautiful Class IV Ausable Chasm. The EA fully supports year-round paddling despite the power company's request for permission to totally block all paddling. While the access plan will require several months to implement, an interim access plan could allow paddling this summer.
The report on paddling access to the Ausable River has finally been issued: late, incomplete, biased, and erroneous. All of the data in the study support year round paddling access, and the data is generally accurate and defensible. The dam owner, New York State Electric and Gas, has maintained its position however that no access should be allowed to the beautiful Class IV river. It is now up to FERC, and AW and KCCNY will be filing comments this week requesting year round access.
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