Mad River, New York, US
|Usual Difficulty||IV-V (for normal flows)|
|EAST BRANCH FISH CREEK AT TABERG NY|
|usgs-04242500||800 - 5000 cfs||IV-V||01h36m||810 cfs (running)|
Fish Creek should be 2.5 steady for a minimum here, rising would be cool too. Sandy Creek should
also be 2.5' steady or rising.
Take out at DEC fishing access parking lot on Harvester Mill Road (near bridge over North Branch
7.5 miles from Little John Road
3.0 miles from Otto Mills Road
Description from Castor Hill / Little John Road (private/posted)
Ask the Mad River Hunting Club for access, then…
Run the left tube under the "bridge". Watch for a small hole in the tube and boof out the end.
River channels and splits a lot for about the next 3 miles, class II+. Watch for sweet surfing
holes and the occasional cable crossing.
Action pick's up at Cable Slide (cable crosses right before class III slide).
Best run is down the center, aim for rooster tail and boof the hole.
Two streams converge shortly after, within sight of the eddy after Cable Slide and small gorge
walls begin to form.
Its also class II into III waves and holes from here to Otto Mill Falls.
Approx. 200 yards below the Cable Slide is Cold Stream coming in from the left. At good levels the
class III ledges of its exit into the Mad is fun to run. Try a short hike up to at least the walk
bridge nearby and over the ledges back into the Mad. A great surf/hole also exists at the
100 yards after this is Rat Brook, comes in from river right. Not runnable but there are play spots
in this stretch.
A couple hundred yards after this the river bends left, watch out for the undercut on the outside
corner (river right). The inside corner has a small ledge drop, the middle is waves/holes. You also
may see a house/building on river right, this means Otto Mill Falls are close.
Once river straightens out there will be some wave trains but take out at one of two truck sized
eddy's on river right. Scout Otto Mills Falls downstream, class IV. Recommend taking out at the
first eddy on right. After it, the river forms a fast black tongue that leads over the drops. Our
line was to move out of the first eddy and into the tongue, but turn back into the second eddy just
before the drop. We didn't run the center of the first ledge because of an unexplained kick of
water (stick, flake?) in the strongest flow. Paddling out the back of this eddy puts you in plenty
of water over the 1st ledge and toward center for the second. The second ledge of the drop happens
really quick and with some spray so just keep it straight. Much flow heads river left and then
falls over the ledge, I'd like to figure out a line to run that sometime.
Your now in a small gorge and will shortly head under a cable suspension bridge. The logging road
that crosses the river after it is the extension of Otto Mills Road. You've gone approx. 4.5 miles
and have 3.0 to go. In this stretch by the suspension bridge is some fun rapids that lead to
Stadium ledge (class III+) felt a bit bigger than when I scouted it a week earlier. It's a great 3'
boof. This may be the only pool drop on the river, run it almost anywhere. I imagine at higher
water a low-head could form here.
The gorge walls will pick up again here and lead thru a couple twists. When you happen upon an
island in a straight stretch, keep river right and prepare to get out and portage Mad River
Mad River falls is about 20+ feet tall and slams onto bed-rock. Its class VI which is a bummer
because the lead up is cherry. Be courteous of the cabin near these falls. Unless you want to hike
a ways, it will be easiest to rappel your boat down the short cliff on river right, slightly around
the bend. You can climb down easy, but not with your boat.
At the base of the falls you'll be in a sweet little gorge with consistent rapids to run out.
When starting one of the slide like rapids watch for an undercut on river left. You probably won't
get near it, but when you see it ahead, watch the rapid your entering. A dog-leg break in the bed
rock near center of this rapids end could cause an abrupt stop…basically just don't run this
sideways looking to surf something.
As the gorge runs out look for a tall beautiful waterfall in the woods toward river left (not
runnable). Once exiting the gorge you'll also come to a part called Horse Shoe Bend. This is marked
by sharp curve left with a steep clay, earth and rock slide on the outside corner. This was badly
undercut but avoidable.
After Horse Shoe Bend you'll find the ugly finish of the run and possible reason for Dennis Squires
two star rating. The river flattens and channels a lot and becomes jammed in many places with
strainers. Be prepared to carry several.
You know your out of the trees once the Mad converges with the North Branch Salmon and becomes
"normal" again. Take out is a couple minutes away.
Take out is on river right just upstream of the bridge for Harvester Mill road. Parking should've been excellent at the DEC fishing access area.
Most folks put in at Otto Mills, Longitude - 75, 49, 14 and Latitude - 43, 36, 07.
Watertown Area Reaches:
Tug Hill - Old Forge Area Reaches