Rock - Williamsville Covered Bridge to West River

Rock, Vermont, US


Williamsville Covered Bridge to West River

Usual Difficulty III-IV (for normal flows)
Length 2.6 Miles
Avg. Gradient 63 fpm

River Description

Hurricane Irene Changes:  This section of the Rock River changed because of the flooding of August, 2011.  The flood was so violent in the section a half mile upstream that houses were washed away.  This section is still runnable, but most rapids have changed.  The river has changed course completely in the section between the dam and the cement bridge. 

The river is still a class 3/4, but please scout it carefully, both because there may be strainers and flood debris in the water, and because all rapids differ somewhat from the old description, which is below.


Pre Hurricane Irene River Description:

The river starts out gently, with some surf spots and a few rapids. Watch out for strainers which often fall down the steep side hill on the right hand side. You'll reach the old dam (now broken), the first major rapid, about a half mile down river. This is described as a class 3 or 4 rapid, depending on whom you talk to and the water level. This rapid, like most on the Rock River, changes from time to time, depending on where the rocks have moved during the last storm. The rest of the section through Williamsville is straightforward fun, with some splashy waves and rocks to dodge, but no difficult rapids. At the bottom of this section, you'll reach the cement bridge and the beginning of the ledges.

About 200 yards below the cement bridge, you'll reach Double Drop. The top drop plunges over a blind ledge, and then slides down to the second, smaller drop. There is a pool below the second drop if you miss, so hold on and you can roll at the bottom. Run the first ledge of Double Drop right middle or left middle, but avoid running it down the center. Also, avoid the far right. There is a hole at the bottom of the first drop that can hold you for a whilebut will usually spit you out, butitcould hold you at high water.

Down river is a neat ledge which you can barrel over on the left side or sneak around on the right side. Barreling over it is usually pain-free at most water levels – it's really a big chute.

About .3 miles down river is Triple Drop, the hardest on the river. Triple Drop is Class 4 except at very low water levels. This rapid can easily be scouted on the left hand side, or walked on this side if you don't want to run it. The second drop of Triple Drop is the most difficult, as it can drop you into a hole that can hold you at low and medium water levels, and can really recirculate you and work you at higher levels. To run Triple Drop, run tight to the right of the two large rocks at the top of the first drop, and pull into the eddy below it. From there, you need to build up enough speed to cross the second ledge and pull you over the hole. If you run this ledge a little right of center, once you get past the hole, there is lots of green water to ride you right over the third, smaller drop. If you run it left-middle, you can usually poke your way through some more narrow and less powerful rocky drops to make it through to the bottom. Once again, there is a pool below the bottom rapid if you flip, so hang on until you reach the bottom if you can't roll above.

Below Triple Drop, the Rock continues another 1.5 miles through a beautiful gorge. This passage is much more straightforward class 2+ and class 3 rapids. The most difficult rapid in this section is a neat chute on river right, about a mile south of Triple Drop. There are many bouncy waves, sometimes steep, and many surf opportunities before you connect with the West River.

A note to all: watch out for strainers, particularly in the section past the cement bridge. This river is frequently run after a heavy rain, and the heavy rains frequently generate strainers in Double Drop, Triple Drop and the gorge below. The river is class 3 / 4, and difficulty varies significantly depending on the level. There is no gauge.

Carl Askegreen says, on the Northeast Paddlers' Message Board:
"Pretty flashy. I describe it as one world-class rodeo hole after another with class 3/4 rapids in between. Super fun.
"Runoff patterns are similar to West Branch, Green, South Branch of Ashuelot...yada yada.
"Way fun and way cool, should really check it out. Put in at the covered bridge then run down; strainers in the first rapid but easy to pass by. Nice rodeo hole. About .62 miles from bridge is a weird strainer on the river right, so I just kind of stay left there. Has this habit of grabbing boaters... got two in one day last year.
"Expect to find good technical play all the way down."

Posted by Eric Bishop
A warm sunny day. We put in about 2 miles upstream from S. Newfane and planned to paddle to the confluence with the West, about 6 miles. The water was fairly high. The run to S. Newfane was uninterrupted class II-III. A large tributary doubled the size of the river in S. Newfane. The broken dam in Williamsville sits at the start of a long section of III-IV past the village. We lined the dam, and Fred broke a paddle in the drop below. After a run down the creek without a paddle he bailed out and made shore. After recovering the boat, we decided to call it a trip as the water had risen noticeably. This is definitely a river to try again. -- Eric Bishop

Take out: Take Route 30 from Brattleboro. The West River will be on your right. After approximately 6 miles, you'll pass a covered bridge on your right. Continue for another two miles. The take out is on the right hand side, just before you cross a bridge. There is a large parking area there (in summer, you could see fifty cars squeezed in there). The confluence of the Rock River and the West River is at that point. There is also a seasonal hot dog stand located there. You can walk across the bridge to get a view of the Rock.

Put in:
From Route 30, turn left on the road directly across from the put in. This is called both Depot Road and Williamsville Road by the locals. Follow this road for about two miles until you cross a cement bridge and reach a T. (Scouting Note: you can scout Triple Drop from Duke Road, a dirt road you'll pass on the right hand side, just before you reach the cement bridge). Turn left at the T and pass through the village of Williamsville (you'll see the Dam on the Rock River in the center of town). Pass through the covered bridge and park at one of two pullouts on the left hand side, just past the covered bridge.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2013-01-13 17:03:38


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.4Rapid Above the The Dam in WilliamsvilleIII+Playspot Photo
0.4View of Dam and the Rapid Above ItIII+Playspot Photo
0.4Running the DamIII+Playspot Photo
0.4Another View of Crossing the DamIII+Playspot Photo
0.8Double DropIV
1.1Triple Drop - TopIVAccess Photo
1.1Triple Drop - Sneak Route LeftIVAccess Playspot Photo
2.2The Chute - TopIIIPhoto
2.2The ChuteIIIPhoto
2.2The Chute - BottomIIIPhoto

Rapid Descriptions

Rapid Above the The Dam in Williamsville (Class III+, Mile 0.4)

The Dam

The Dam
Photo by Patrick Rogers ( taken 04/22/07 @ Medium

Broken dam in the center of Williamsville, about .4 miles downstream from the covered bridge. Rated at Class 3 or Class 4, depending on water level and who you talk to. The photo is of a two-drop rapid just above the dam. It's generally recommended that you don't run the top drop backward.

View of Dam and the Rapid Above It (Class III+, Mile 0.4)

View of the dam and the Rapid Above It

View of the dam and the Rapid Above It
Photo by Patrick Rogers ( taken 04/22/07 @ Medium

If you eddy out river right after running the second drop of the rapid above, you can position yourself to run the Dam.

Running the Dam (Class III+, Mile 0.4)

Crossing the Dam

Crossing the Dam
Photo of Randy J. Goat by Patrick Rogers ( taken 04/22/07 @ Medium

The dam can be run in many spots, depending, once again, on water level, and where the last deluge has moved the rocks.

Another View of Crossing the Dam (Class III+, Mile 0.4)

Where is he?

Where is he?
Photo of Helmet & Blade by Patrick Rogers ( taken 04/22/07 @ Medium

Although the Dam is clearly visible from the center of Williamsville, please don't attempt to park here or access the river here - it will annoy the landowners.

Double Drop (Class IV, Mile 0.8)
Double Drop is located about 200 yards below the cement bridge in Williamsville. This is the second hardest rapid on the river. The top drop plunges over a ledge, and then slides down to the second, smaller drop. There is a pool below this rapid if you miss, so hold on and you can roll at the bottom. Run the top ledge of Double Drop right middle or left middle, but avoid running it down the center. Also, avoid the far right.

Triple Drop - Top (Class IV, Mile 1.1)

Coming Around the Bend

Coming Around the Bend
Photo of Alan Darling by Patrick Rogers ( taken 04/22/07 @ Medium

Top of Triple Drop - pull into the eddy behind the big rock on river right to get into position to cross the 2nd ledge.


NOTE:  Triple Drop has changed since Hurrican Irene and is more difficult now.  The biggest warning is BE WARY OF GOING RIGHT.  At the bottom of the right side, it is pretty manky - the rocks won't be friendly if your line isn't right, and this will vary by flow.  Scout this rapid carefully if you don't know it.

Triple Drop - Sneak Route Left (Class IV, Mile 1.1)

Triple Drop - Sneak Route Left

Triple Drop - Sneak Route Left
Photo of Yakrafter (Mike Lodge) by Patrick Rogers ( taken 04/22/07 @ Medium

If you take the second ledge middle left, you can pick your way through rocks below at medium and lower water levels, missing the main flow below the second drop.

The Chute - Top (Class III, Mile 2.2)

The Chute - Up

The Chute - Up
Photo of Luke Darling by Patrick Rogers ( taken 04/22/07 @ Medium

Top of the Chute

The Chute (Class III, Mile 2.2)

The Chute - Down

The Chute - Down
Photo of Luke Darling by Patrick Rogers ( taken 04/22/07 @ Medium

Chute, located about a mile south of Triple Drop.

The Chute - Bottom (Class III, Mile 2.2)

Back Up Again

Back Up Again
Photo taken 04/23/07

Back up again

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
September 11 2011 (2351 days ago)
Mark LacroixDetails
Hurricane Irene on August 28th 2011 devastated many of the river in Vermont. The following post by
Alan Darling appeared on NPMB in early September of 2011. The Rock River's rapids have changed
significantly. The State of Vermont has also warned us to stay out of the water. It is toxic and
septic. Above the covered bridge, there is heavy equipment in the river channel, repairing the road
and restoring the river to its original channel, which means that gas and oil are going into the
water. Houses along the Rock River were washed away by the flood, and pieces of them could be
underwater, or could get washed down as you paddle the river. There are also floating propane
tanks, septic tanks and leach fields that are still leaching into the river (in many places, half
or all of a leach field were washed away by the river). There are countless strainers that were
washed into the river. According to the EPA, it will take 5 to 10 years for the river's wildlife to
return, which is why they permitted the heavy equipment to go into the river. The river conditions
will be changing regularly as it washes the garbage and strainers downstream.
September 5 2011 (2357 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,
May 22 2011 (2463 days ago)
alan darlingDetails
There are two strainers just below the covered bridge, before you reach the dam (the top and bottom
half of the same tree). Both are big and long, but avoidable. Keep your eyes open for them.

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