Otter Creek - Beldens Falls to Bleeders Dam

Otter Creek, Vermont, US


Beldens Falls to Bleeders Dam (Otter Creek gorge)

Usual Difficulty III (for normal flows)
Length 3 Miles

Otter Creek Falls

Otter Creek Falls
Photo of Rick Cooley taken 5/02 @ ~1000 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-04282500 200 - 10000 cfs III 00h39m 903 cfs (running)
It doesn't get too high, or too low, really. Over 2500cfs the gorge proper becomes class IV.

River Description

There are two whitewater sections:

1) Middlebury Falls -- 18' high falls right in downtown Middlebury, plus a meaty ledge hole just below it. Put-in and take out are in same spot -- there is only one bridge right in downtown Middlebury, falls are right under it, take the first road just after bridge on downstream side, go park down there. Watch out for strainers.

2) Otter Creek Gorge -- one cl. III rapid, a couple of light cl. II. Put-in below Belden Falls Dam. A short class 2 leads to the gorge entrance. The short gorge is straightforward and fairly short, but has boils and undercut walls, so stay straight down the middle. Long flat pool afterwards to collect any pieces.
A class 2 wave train rapid leads down to the confluence with the New Haven by the campground.
Dog Team Falls, on the New Haven river, behind the Dog Team Tavern, can be used as an alternative access point for Otter Creek if the gorge is too high
Below the campground a ledge rapid forms a small playwave on river right as the river splits round an island. This is best in high water. From there its flatwater all the way to the takeout, on river right before the road bridge.


Put -- go north from Middlebury on Rt. 7 until about 1 mile, when you see a sign for New Haven Mills on the right. Take the dirt road on the left at this intersection, signed Beldens Falls Rd. Follow this down across the railroad tracks to the put-in just below the Dam.

Take-out -- Go North on Rt. 7 from put-in; at 2.2 miles (measured by John Jackson, 2004-06-28) take a left on Campground Road; when that road runs to a T in a mile, take a left. The take out is just before the bridge.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2011-07-18 01:36:35

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.
September 5 2011 (2390 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,
August 3 2009 (3152 days ago)
vtkayaker23 (150844)
An alternative is to paddle the gorge then once you come to the confluence of the New Haven paddle
up that a short distance (slow current) then hike a few hundred feet on a path on river left which
brings you to a parking lot and Dog Team rapid. There is a class III 6ft waterfall with class II
small ledges below it just up the road. This also makes shuttle much less however paddling upstream
does get tiring.
June 10 2009 (3207 days ago)
x (1)
The road that leads to the take out is currently closed for repair before the bridge. We were told
that if you park on the road before the construction you could be at risk of a $500 ticket because
the police check the area. There is another way to get around to the bridge but it is quite a long
detour. We decided it wasn't worth the drive just to paddle the gorge so we just bailed. Word is
that it is supposed to be finished in 3 weeks or so, but we also met a biker who said that they
have been working on it for 2 years now, so just be prepared for this if you're going down that
way. Have been down to take out area a couple of times now in past few weeks, June/ July 2010. Road
work seems to be all complete. Have had no problems parking in pull off areas.

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