Mad - 1st Hydro Dam to Winooski River

Mad, Vermont, US


1st Hydro Dam to Winooski River (Lower Mad)

Usual Difficulty II-III+(IV) (for normal flows)
Length 2 Miles
Avg. Gradient 30 fpm
Max Gradient 49 fpm

Horse shoe Falls

Horse shoe Falls
Photo of Bob Marshall by Kyle Canton @ 275 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-04288000 300 - 1700 cfs II-III+(IV) 00h18m 421 cfs (running)

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 upstream from Vermont Route 2.

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'

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2005-02-20 08:17:15


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Put inII+Putin Photo
0.2Lower Put inII+Photo
0.4Route 100B RapidII+Photo
0.7Horseshoe FallsIVPhoto
0.8Washing MachineIIIPhoto
1.2Old Bridge RapidII+
1.4Final DropIII+Photo

Rapid Descriptions

Put in (Class II+)

Put in drop on the Mad

Put in drop on the Mad
Photo by Mark Lacroix taken 08/14/04 @ 750 cfs

The put in rapid is an easy straight shot through and around large ledge boulders.

Lower Put in (Class II+, Mile 0.2)

Put in rapid on the Mad

Put in rapid on the Mad
Photo by Mark Lacroix taken 08/14/04 @ 750 cfs

Route 100B Rapid (Class II+, Mile 0.4)

Second drop on the Mad

Second drop on the Mad
Photo by Mark Lacroix taken 08/14/04 @ 750 cfs

Rapids start under the high Vermont 100B bridge. Some good surf at the top of the rapid.

Horseshoe Falls (Class IV, Mile 0.7)

Horsehoe Falls

Horsehoe Falls
Photo of Tony Shaw by Mark Lacroix taken 08/14/04 @ 750 cfs

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.

Washing Machine (Class III, Mile 0.8)

Washing Machine

Washing Machine
Photo of Jim Poulin by Mark Lacroix taken 08/14/04 @ 750 cfs

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)
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)

Final Drop on the Mad

Final Drop on the Mad
Photo by Mark Lacroix taken 08/14/04 @ 750 cfs

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 left chute. Shortly below the Final drop the Mad converges with the Winooski. Take out on river left just upstream of the Vermont Route 2 bridge. Watch out for poison ivy climbing up the steep bank.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
July 7 2017 (287 days ago)
melamst (8170)
Gauge is re-calibrated. Thanks USGS and local paddler Chris!
June 30 2017 (294 days ago)
melamst (8170)
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!

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