Ausable - 7. Ausable Chasm to US Route 9


Ausable, New York, US

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7. Ausable Chasm to US Route 9 (Ausable Chasm)

Usual Difficulty IV+ (for normal flows)
Length 3 Miles

Put In on the Ausable


Put In on the Ausable
Photo of Kevin Colburn by Trip Kinney taken 06/15/05 @ 650

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
AUSABLE RIVER NEAR AU SABLE FORKS NY
usgs-04275500 240 - 1400 cfs IV+ 49h19m 484 cfs (running)
Based on 2005 Flow Study.


River Description

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!

See also 

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; and
Ausable 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

Marble                                                                    Salmon

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)

Styles Brook 

Google Map of New York Whitewater

New York Whitewater Paddlers Facebook Group


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2018-02-15 16:04:26

Editors


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Put In PoolN/APutin Photo
0.1Horseshoe FallsIII+Photo
0.32nd RapidIII+Photo
0.5Diagonal SlideIVPhoto
0.6Left Side Elephant HeadIIIPhoto
0.6Elephant HeadIV+Hazard Photo
0.7Long OneIVPhoto
0.8Mike's Hole (lead-in)IV+Hazard Photo
0.8Mike's Hole ItselfIVPhoto
0.9The Pinch of the ChasmIPhoto
1.0Exit CanalII+

Rapid Descriptions

Put In Pool (Class N/A)

Put In on the Ausable

Put In on the Ausable
Photo of Kevin Colburn by Trip Kinney taken 06/15/05 @ 650

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.



Horseshoe Falls (Class III+, Mile 0.1)

Horseshoe Falls

Horseshoe Falls
Photo of Kevin Colburn by Trip Kinney taken 06/15/05 @ 650


2nd Rapid (Class III+, Mile 0.3)

Second Ausable Rapid

Second Ausable Rapid
Photo of Bobby Miller by Trip Kinney taken 06/15/05 @ 650

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.



Diagonal Slide (Class IV, Mile 0.5)

Slide on the Chasm

Slide on the Chasm
Photo by Willie Kern taken 06/15/05 @ 650

This is a fun slide with a diagonal hole at the bottom. Immediately after this slide is Elephant Rock.

The hole at the bottom is VERY RETENTIVE even to swimmers at low flows. If worried, set safety on river right. 



Left Side Elephant Head (Class III, Mile 0.6)

Left Side of Elephant Rock, Ausable

Left Side of Elephant Rock, Ausable
Photo by Willie Kern taken 06/19/05 @ 500-600

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.



Elephant Head (Class IV+, Mile 0.6)

Elephant Rock Rapid

Elephant Rock Rapid
Photo of Tim Kelley by Trip Kinney taken 06/15/05 @ 650

This is the Hero Line through Elephant Head Rapid and is the toughest challenge on the run. There is a straightforward class III/IV sneak down the left side at moderate flows that likely exists at high flows as well. Most paddlers opted for the sneak line during the study
Note: as of June, 2010, the Hero Line is even tougher, and paddlers are warned away from it.



Long One (Class IV, Mile 0.7)

Long Fun Class IV on the Ausable

Long Fun Class IV on the Ausable
Photo by Willie Kern taken 06/15/05 @ 650

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 (lead-in) (Class IV+, Mile 0.8)

Lead in to Mikes Hole

Lead in to Mikes Hole
Photo by Willie Kern taken 06/15/05 @ 650

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 (Class IV, Mile 0.8)

Mikes Hole on the Ausable

Mikes Hole on the Ausable
Photo of Kevin Colburn by Trip Kinney taken 06/19/05 @ 500-600

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.



The Pinch of the Chasm (Class I, Mile 0.9)

The pinch of the Chasm

The pinch of the Chasm
Photo by Willie Kern taken 06/15/05 @ 650

This part of the gorge is serene and very beautiful. With the rapids behind you, it is a great place to sit back and admire the scenery.

Exit Canal (Class II+, Mile 1.0)
The last little rapid has been altered to promote safe passage of innertubes. It is a straight shot.


User Comments

Users can submit comments.
July 21 2014 (1611 days ago)
jeffhammondeggs (156503)
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
September 8 2012 (2292 days ago)
waterbabynyc (153672)
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.
November 3 2010 (2968 days ago)
Wayne GmanDetails
To close out the 1st season some of my opening day crew paddled the Ausable around 850 cfs
Oct,2010...there was a significant strainer in the middle of Mike's. Be very careful. It could
shift right into the mouth of the hole. @850 they were able to scout from rocks on the left. The
Chasm is now closed for the winter 2010, starting nov 1st. Next Spring we need to see if the winter
ice drags the tree out of there. The Ice has removed huge steel I-beams so I'm very hopeful. Side
note these guys love the middleburry Gorge, Big Branch, and are up for just about anything......I
think 850cfs is getting some talk now as the Normal sane high water run limit. Mike's hole itself
(not the wood) was the reason for this thinking. I'm sure boaters will do it higher but I thought
I'd pass the thinking of some local guys that push 5+ but not insanely so. nobody knows where the
steel is down there so getting a beatdown there and swimming out deep out of the hole is not a real
pleasant idea.
June 20 2010 (3104 days ago)
Wayne GmanDetails
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.
June 16 2010 (3108 days ago)
Wayne GmanDetails
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.


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Associated Projects

  • Ausable Access (NY)
    AW has fought a dam owners attempt to block access to the stunning Ausable Chasm.
  • Ausable Access (NY)
    AW has fought a dam owners attempt to block access to the stunning Ausable Chasm.