Deerfield, W. Branch - Heartwellville to Readsboro Village

Deerfield, W. Branch, Vermont, US


Heartwellville to Readsboro Village

Usual Difficulty V (for normal flows)
Length 3.5 Miles
Avg. Gradient 155 fpm

High Chair

High Chair
Photo of Dave Livingston and Ben Holzman by Dan Holzman taken 2001 @ Low/medium level

River Description

Source: Greg and Sue Hanlon's Steep Creeks of New England, which has more info on this run. Text used with permission.

Directions: Put in on Rte. 100, just above Readsboro Falls, 2.8 miles upstream from Readsboro. The putin is determined by a large barn just off the road.
To takeout: follow the river downstream to Readsboro. Bang a right onto Tunnel Road, heading toward Monroe Bridge, MA. You'll cross the West Branch; continue South about half a mile past several houses to where river meets road. Pull off on the left.

Posted on NPMB by SilasMJai 03-23-03, 08:45 AM (Eastern)
"West Branch of Deerfield Access"
The Land owner at the put in (He owns the house, barn and fallen down mill on the other side of the river at Readsboro Falls) has asked me to convey some requests to paddlers putting in at Readsboro Falls.
For parking at the put in, please use the "State Land" just south of his property. The parking area is an unmarked level grassy area on the west side of Route 8.
To Access the river, there is a rough path that goes from the southwest corner of the "state Land" parking area directly to the river. Please do not go through the old mill on the opposite side of the river. That is the landowner's biggest concern. There was a partial collapse of the mill caused by kids playing in it and the landowner is concerned for our safety and his liability. I know this means the seal launch below Readsboro falls is no longer accessible, but it is a reasonable request by the landowner.
For those wanting to run Readsboro falls, please access the river upstream.

User Comments
Alden Bird 2004-04-08 10:39:29
I spoke with the guy who owns the property around Readsboro Falls. It is now OK to park at the old put-in, on the small dirt road next to the houses and the old barn. It is also OK to access the river here. In fact, the road and the bridge are public land (according to him). He also mentioned that he is keeping a running tab of how many sorry boaters need to exit readsboro falls hole by rope!

Daniel Holzman 2003-09-25 18:48:51
This is a classic New England run, steep, rocky, very busy. The West Branch holds water relatively well, and sometimes comes up after summer thunderstorms.

Tunnel Vision (the obvious drop at the first road crossing upstream of Readsboro) is a serious drop, with very sharp rocks apparently left over from road blasting. On one trip, a member of our group got seriously pinned partway down the drop, and had difficulty extracting.

The first two drops in the 1/2 mile sequence are known as Tunnel Falls, and are not so problematical. You can take out below the first two drops, and carry around the rest of the drop. If you decide to run the remainder of the drops, setting safety is critical (but difficult).

This is a difficult open boat run, very tight with tiny eddies. Open boaters should try it at medium levels, low levels are just too scratchy and easy to pin.

StreamTeam Status: Verified
Last Updated: 2006-01-16 20:30:11

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.
October 22 2012 (1974 days ago)
Nathan WarrenDetails
There is new wood 2-3 drop below the sieve (an s-turnish drop where the river then splits around a
rock) on river right. We cut out some branches, but it is still a hazard on river right. We lost a
saw arm & chain in the trunk of the tree. YOU CANNOT SEE THIS UNTIL YOU ARE ON TOP OF IT.
Otherwise, a lot of wood on the sides of the river, the 2 trees at the top that can be carefully
skirted, and the river wide portage 2 drops below the tunnel.
June 4 2012 (2114 days ago)
Nathan WarrenDetails
There is a large sieve immediately after you paddle under the road, near the beginning of the
river. It can be run, if you think risking your life for a marginal rapid is worthwhile. There is
plenty of wood - some in the warm up section that I was able to get around at medium, but walked at
high. More wood below the tunnel - probably 2 or 3 rapids down. 2 large logs across the river. 100
yards downstream is another log which is very difficult to see until you are on top of it. You may
be able to sneak right, if you are looking for it. Or just keep walking past the above strainer.
Low chair is rowdy.
September 5 2011 (2387 days ago)
Mark LacroixDetails
On August 28th, 2011 Hurricane Irene struck New England. The resulting floods caused extensive
damage throughout the region, the worst in over 100 years. More than half the rivers in Vermont and
northern New Hampshire recorded their highest flow levels ever. Many roads, guardrails, power
lines, bridges, trees and other debris now litter several rivers throughout the region. River beds
have been scoured and changed course, many new strainers make navigation problematic at best and
downright dangerous at worse. Please realize that the river description you see here may not match
current situation after the floods. Use common sense and when in doubt scout especially on blind
drops. Also, if you run this river in the next year or so please comment on its navigability, even
if there are no problems this will be very helpful. Please report any new strainers or changes to
the rapids that will impact future boating. Thank you,
October 11 2005 (4541 days ago)
Ed ClarkDetails
As of 10/11/2005 very high water of 10/9 has rearranged tunnel vision in a massive way--near bottom
on river left is an ugly sieve-- look before yoy leap
October 11 2005 (4541 days ago)
Ed ClarkDetails
As of 10/11/2005 very high water of 10/9 has rearranged tunnel vision in a massive way--near bottom
on river left is an ugly sieve-- look before yoy leap

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