This photo needs editing.
Difficulty II-III+(IV)
Length 2 Miles
Flow Range 300 - 1700 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 20 minutes ago 161 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 11/20/2019 11:50 pm

River Description

The most common class III run is the lower Mad. This is the last 2 miles, from the hydro dam to the confluence of the Winnoski river. There is one possible portage at Horseshoe falls. This is a class IV+ drop with a technical entrance and sticky recirculating hole at the bottom.

The run parallels Vermont Route 100B providing ample oppertunities to scout and access the river. Take out is 1/3 mile below the confluence of with the Winooski river on river left just downstream from Vermont Route 2. Please note the new take out, parking area, and pull-through for trailers: It is just DOWNSTREAM of the Route 2 bridge on river left of the Winooski (just across the road from what it says above). You will still want to watch for poison ivy, though. Thank you Vermont River Conservancy for such great river access!

To find the put in travel south on Vermont Route 100B from Vermont Route 2 approximatel 1.5 miles. Just before the road crosses over the Mad River take a left on a dirt road. About a 1/4 mile park on the right then hike a short distance down to the river put in just below the dam.

Technical info

Put in elevation......485'
Take out elevation....426'

Rapid Descriptions

Put in

Class - II+ Mile - 0
The put in rapid is an easy straight shot through and around large ledge boulders.

Lower Put in

Class - II+ Mile - 0.2

Route 100B Rapid

Class - II+ Mile - 0.4
Rapids start under the high Vermont 100B bridge. Some good surf at the top of the rapid.

Horseshoe Falls

Class - IV Mile - 0.7

Shaped like a horseshoe, the right side is steeper and can result in some long downtime once you launch over the 6' ledge. There is a maw in the middle where the right side and left sides meet. This could easily flip a boat. River left has a two-step drop with a rather sticky hole at the bottom. The first step tends to slow the boater's momentum just enough to cause trouble for the second step. Rescue boaters and equipment quickly since the Washing Machine is only a short distance downstream. The Horseshoe is easily portaged on river left.

At levels below 400 cfs, it seems that the two stage river left drop is too shallow to run, and the ledges are mostly out of the water. River right is flows at <400 cfs, and is a solid 6 foot boof over a hole with a tricky entrance - still class IV.

Washing Machine

Class - III Mile - 0.8
A short distance below the Horseshoe the river is squeezed between a vertical wall on river right and ledge on river left. Straight shot through, just a bit violent.

Old Bridge Rapid

Class - II+ Mile - 1.2
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
Fun playful rapid in a steep gorge. Identified by an old bridge crossing and a home on river left.

Final Drop

Class - III Mile - 1.4

A short distance below "Old Bridge" the river splits around a ledge island. The river right route provides more sport. Run the left side first then carry back up the ledge island to try the right side. Shortly below the Final drop the Mad converges with the Winooski. 


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Steven Melamed
2 years ago

Gauge is re-calibrated. Thanks USGS and local paddler Chris!

default user thumbnail
Steven Melamed
2 years ago

Please note the new take out, parking area, and pull-through for trailers: It is just DOWNSTREAM of the Route 2 bridge on river left of the Winooski (just across the road from what it says above). You will still want to watch for poison ivy, though. Thank you Vermont River Conservancy for such a great river access!

default user thumbnail
Steven Melamed
6 years ago

-Take out: There is now a nice river access and parking area just downstream of the Rt. 2 bridge on river left. You'll still want to watch out for poison ivy.

Gage Descriptions

This river needs a minimum of 275 cfs for a run.

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

No Accident Reports



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Bill Durr


Bob Marshall


Alex Barham


Jackson Ennis


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1213924 11/20/19 Bill Durr updated name
1191832 02/20/05 Bob Marshall n/a
1209311 04/30/18 Alex Barham updated with flow info for Horshoe falls
1209568 05/14/18 Jackson Ennis added new takeout