Ausable, New York, US
|Usual Difficulty||IV+ (for normal flows)|
|AUSABLE RIVER NEAR AU SABLE FORKS NY|
|usgs-04275500||240 - 1400 cfs||IV+||49h19m||484 cfs (running)|
|Based on 2005 Flow Study.|
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; and
Ausable Chasm Open Flow Study Planned, May 31, 2005.
Lat/longitude coords are approximate, from TopoZone.
Plattsburgh Area Reaches
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|0.0||Put In Pool||N/A|
|0.6||Left Side Elephant Head||III|
|0.8||Mike's Hole (lead-in)||IV+|
|0.8||Mike's Hole Itself||IV|
|0.9||The Pinch of the Chasm||I|
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.
The hole at the bottom is VERY RETENTIVE even to swimmers at low flows. 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.
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.
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.