Saranac - 4. Foot of Kent Falls to Lake Champlain

Saranac, New York, US


4. Foot of Kent Falls to Lake Champlain

Usual Difficulty II-III (for normal flows)
Length 12.5 Miles
Avg. Gradient 25 fpm
Max Gradient 30 fpm

First broken dam drop

First broken dam drop
Photo of Broken crib dam drop by Todd Haner taken 04/03/05 @ 6.5 ft

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-04273500 4.00 - 10.00 ft II-III 02h16m 3.72 ft (too low)

River Description

The picture posted on this page by John Gangemi of AW is of the Kent's Falls section, which is immediately upstream of this section. Currently, there is no legal access to Kent's Falls, a 1/2 mile class 4 bypass reach. The dam is currently being re-licensed, and access is under negotiation.

This stretch of the river can be broken into three distinct pieces:

1. Foot of Kent's Falls to Military Turnpike - 7 miles - Class I
Put in at the Fisherman's parking area, just downstream of the Kent's Falls Powerhouse. Class I water with no real obstructions down through Morrisonville, then to the dam at the Military Turnpike. Flatwater last mile to the dam. Take out at the parking lot between the dam and the water intake for the power plant.

2. Military Turnpike (Route 190) to Imperial Mill - 2.5 miles - Class II/III
Park at the parking lot at the dam. This section generally needs more water, but the level is dependent on dam operations so the gauge may not be a good indicator. Generally, we like the gauge to be at least 5 feet. To put in, carry across the bridge to the river left, then follow the ATV/Mt. Bike trail down to the river below the first drop. This first drop may be runnable with alot of water, but it is shallow at the base so beware.
Paddle easy water (class I-II) until the Interstate comes into sight. There is an old wood crib dam to be run here (class II-III). Scout on the right. Can run either the small drop on the right, or the slot on the left. Small slide immediately after the drop.
At this point, the water diverted by the power plant comes back in. Easy rapids, then flatwater to a broken dam. Carry on the right. This may be runnable by someone with alot more guts than we have. 15 foot drop into a nasty hrdraulic. Remember, there is broken cement (sharp!) in here, too. Put in immediately below the dam. Rapids soon die out to a flatwater for 3/4 mile to the Imperial Mill Dam. Take out and carry on the left.

3. Imperial Mill Dam to Lake Champlain - 3 miles - Class II
This is the section most often run. Probably runnable below 4, but not very interesting. Starts to get fun at 5.0 feet, and gets increasingly better as water level rises. Has been run as high as 11 feet.
Put in immediately below the Imperial Mill dam. There are a couple of holes at the base of the dam that can be fun surfing (shallow!). Downstream, good rapids for 1/4 mile, with some surfing chances at 5.0 feet and above. Rapids die out for a while.
After about 1 mile, rapids pick up again. Good surfing for the next 1/4 mile to the South Catherine St. bridge, and again immediately below the bridge. Rapids die off again until the Broad Street Bridge.
Immediately below the Broad Street Bridge, there is a series of 3 or 4 waves that make for nice surfing at the right water levels. The bridge was rebuilt in 2001 and the river in this area is still changing due to rocks droppped into the river during construction. Soon after this, rapids die out as you approach the lake. Take out at a boat launch on river right.


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: 2016-04-05 22:12:34

Rapid Descriptions

icon of message No rapids entered. If you know names, and locations of the rapids please contact and advise the StreamTeam member for this run.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
May 9 2005 (4910 days ago)
justin CrannellDetails
15 ft broken dam drop is definately runnable......just have to chuck and duck.....avoid the hole
after it if possible since a swim or slow roll would push you into a submerged broken piece of the
dam.....otherwise the drop is a blast<br />
<br />
March 30 2005 (4949 days ago)
Todd HanerDetails
Around four and a half ft run the old crib dam drop then surf nice hole at the end of the slide!
It's the best feature on the 190 turnpike to imperial dam section! I'd run it just for that, you
can portage and do it over and over. Great novice drop too it's consists of two consecutive three
foot drops to the slide, beware at high water the hole at the end of the slide gets pretty munchie!
At your own risk enjoy.<br />

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