Put in elevation........829'
Take out elevation......668'
Mile 1 drop......71'
Mile 2 drop......49'
Mile 2.75 drop....41'
River width average.....160'
River geology........... medium to large granite boulders, ledge at dumplings
River water quality.....good to excellent.
Scenery.................Beautiful forested scenery
Wildlife................Deer, Merganzers, Hawks, Blue herons.
Jamaica, Vermont is a popular destination for its annual spring and fall release weekends. The main attraction is the release from Ball Mountain flood-control dam operated by the Army Corps of Engineers. The spring release is usually scheduled for the last full weekend of April; the Fall release falls on the third full weekend of September. This release allows boating on two sections of the West: The Upper West, class III; and the Lower West, class II. The termination for the upper and the start for the lower are located at Jamaica State Park, which lies just to the north of Vt. Route 30. Camping is available at Jamaica State Park, but you will need to make your reservation by the afternoon of January 2 to be assured of a site for the weekend. No reservations are accepted until the new year. Call 1-800-299-3071 to make your reservation early or 1-802-874-4600 during the camping season to try and get on the waiting list for a cancellation.
Another alternative to Jamaica State Park is Winhall Campground, located about 10 miles farther north of Jamaica on route 100. Winhall Campground is operated by the Army Corps of Engineers and used to be free to spring and fall campers up until 5 years ago. More and more people have been coming here over the last few years but as of last year the campground was still only about half full. To guarantee a spot or particular campsite call 1-877-444-6777 or go to Reserve USA website
At Jamaica State Park, Vermont state workers operate a shuttle on the Upper West during the fall release. As of September 2018 & 2019, the Shuttle fees were $15 per trip or $25 for unlimited trips for the day. There is no spring shuttle since the shuttle route utilizes an old railroad bed that is usually too muddy in April. You can also hike over Ball Mountain dam using a new well-graded trail. To get to Ball Mountain dam continue north on Vt. Rte. 30 past Jamaica approximately 2 miles, look for a small sign on the right for Ball Mountain Dam. Take a right and travel approximately 1 mile. Just before the end of the paved section of road take a left down a steep, narrow (but short) dirt road to the parking area located in the spillway of the dam.
There is no organized shuttle for the Lower class II section of the West. Your best bet would be to hook up with one of the guided trips offered by the MVP or one of the chapters of the AMC.
The shuttle access is located at the pavilion parking lot in Jamaica State Park. Access to Jamaica State Park is $4.00 per person per day unless you are camping there. Parking is also sometimes available in a school ball field just before the entrance to the state park. Parking there usually cost $2 per vehicle. This parking lot is more popular for people running the Lower West and latecomers to the state park once parking there is filled. About half a dozen vendors set up at Jamaica selling boating gear. There is also usually a food stand with hot dogs, burgers, hot and cold drinks. Saturday evening the town of Jamaica puts on a Spaghetti supper for the boaters. This is usually located at the church at the intersection of VT Rte. 30 and the Jamaica State Park access road. There are a couple other eating establishments right in town; more are located 5 to 10 miles north and south of town. If there have been recent rains (especially in the spring), other rivers in the area could also be running such as Ball Mountain brook , Winhall, Wardsboro, Rock, and the Londonderry section of the West.
Campgrounds / Lodging
-- Jamaica State Park Campground - Jamaica, VT 05343 Ph: 802-874-4600
-- Winhall Brook campground: Rte 100, Winhall VT (877) 444-6777
-- Townshend State Park Campground - Townshend, VT 05353 Ph: 802-365-7500
-- Camperama - Depot Road, Townshend, VT 05353 Ph: 802-365-4315
-- Bald Mountain Campground - 1760 State Force Road, Townshend, VT 05353 Ph: 802-365-7510
Interstate 91 to exit 3 Brattleboro Vermont.
Take a right on Vermont route 5 (south) 2 miles.
Take a right on Vermont route 30.
Approximately 25 miles to Jamaica.
For the first time in decades recreational whitewater releases are in jeopardy on the West River not from drought but because of new policies the US Army Corps of Engineers have decided to embrace. The following post is from American Whitewater representative Jason Robertson.
On November 24, 2003, a reporter for Vermont's Rutland Herald, Peter Crabtree, reported that "Boating groups are protesting a decision by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to restrict whitewater releases on the West River. The Army Corps cut the fall release at the Ball Mountain Dam from two days to one in September, affecting hundreds of paddlers who turn out for the annual event. The Army Corps also intends to cut back flow levels for the spring release in April, making the river less challenging for whitewater enthusiasts."
The article attributes the cuts to a change in policy that would protect the river's water quality and ecology by ensuring that releases resemble flows under a natural hydrograph.
The article correctly observes that American Whitewater is critical of the agencies' approach because the river is being artificially regulated, and quotes AW Board Member Tom Chrisptopher, a recipient of Perception's River Conservation of the Year Award, "'Many times throughout the course of the year there are extremely high releases that may be 3,000, 4,000, 5,000 or 6,000 cubic feet per second,' he said. 'Yet the state of Vermont and U.S. Fish and Wildlife have nothing to say about that. It's just done because the mandate of the Army Corps is to protect life and property downstream.'" AW continues to support scheduled releases of 1500 CFS and a restoration of the original release schedule; this release schedule is good for the economy, mitigates for lost recreation opportunities from the construction of the dam, and is consistent with the natural and dynamic flows of the river.
State and federal officials will meet with American Whitewater in the next several weeks to discuss the issue.
For information on what American Whitewater, NEFLOW, and AMC are doing to reinstate recreational releases on the West River and other Army Corps sites please click here.
Posted: November 25, 2003 by Jason Robertson
Contact: Tom Christopher
E-mail: email@example.comPosted by Mike Mac on NPMB March 2004
I'm pleased to inform the paddling community that the good people at the Army Corp of Engineers have agreed to increase the hours of operation/acess at Ball Mountain Dam when there are flows greater then 1000cfs. The people and business of Jamaica VT and the ACE came to this agreement to increase access to the dam for weeknight and weekend paddling. Currently the gate to the dam is open from 9am to 3pm Monday thru Friday only (no weekends); that will change starting April 1,2004
April 1 to May 22 and October 12th thru November 1st
Monday thru Friday gate times 8am to 6pm
WEEKEND AND HOLIDAYS 9am to 6pm
May 22 thru Oct 11
Every day 8 am to 8pm
Entrance gate to the spill way will be open as well as the gate at RT 30 and 100 The gate to the top of the Dam will always be locked.
Additionally no overnight parking or camping.
This program may be terminated or interrupted due to governmental security concerns.
Well, I have to say this is fantastic news for recreational river users; having lived in this area for quite some time it has been difficult at best to access the West at Ball Mountain Dam.
This doesn't mean that additional water will be spilled; it means that when flows are greater than 1000cfs, we get access.
If you come to Jamaica and use the resources, thank the dam operators for their consideration!! The coffee shop and general store in town has been instrumental in helping this cause so stop in and say HI and Thanks.
This is the upper put in at the base of the dam. Requires a hike down from the top of Ball Mtn. Dam or a 1/2 mile hike up from the end of the park shuttle.
This rapid lies just below the outflow from Ball Mountain Dam. If you take the shuttle up from Jamaica State Park carry across the footbridge over Cobb Brook and walk ~1/3 mile upstream to the base of the dam. There is a nice eddy river left of the dam discharge. Just downstream from the eddy put in the river drops through the heaviest whitewater on the West. A center route will take you through a series of holes and standing waves a few rocks are scatered throughout. As the river takes a gradual left look for an eddy on river left that services a nice surfing wave. Below this playspot the river eases up a bit but look out for a couple tough sections especially next to two large boulders the first on river right the next a short way downstream on river left.
As the river approaches the shuttle trail once more and takes a sharp right a large pourover rock is located just to the left of river center. This rock is a popular boofing spot. Just below Boof rock is a series of nice (but difficult to catch) surfing waves.
The most technical rapid on the West. Can be identified by very large boulders blocking the view of the best route downstream. The easiest route through the Dumplings starts out on river left. As the river turns to the right paddle hard to river right to avoid a trashy section on the left side of the channel with a mix of holes and rocks. Eddy out behind one of the "dumplings" if you can. The next section takes you through standing waves and a large hole/wave that upsets many boats just before the ender hole. The rapid ends at the West river ender spot wich can be identified by tourist and an observation platform on river left. The West river ender hole is on river right and is served by a large eddy there. Gone are the days of the long high volume boats which used to get major air at this spot. A more difficult route would take a boater to the right of the upper Dumpling. The most difficult move is the "Twisty Chute" that drops to the right at the top of the first dumpling. If you manage to stay upright through the slot it then accelerates you into another boulder that has a slight undercut on the upstream side.
The traditional takeout during release weekends is at Jamaica State Park. You can recognize it by the gazebos, campsites and stairways on river left. If the park should be full and you are forced to park at the field near the Jamaica school continue downstream another quarter mile and take out on river right just downstream from the bridge.
Corps of Engineers supports canoeists, kayakers, and rafters on West River with white water releases
Posted 9/19/2014, Release no. 2014-116, Contact Tim Dugan, 978-318-8264, firstname.lastname@example.org
CONCORD, Mass. – Controlled releases will be made by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, from Ball Mountain Dam and Townshend Dam in Jamaica and Townshend, Vermont, on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 27 and Sept. 28, 2014 to provide flows for recreational canoeing, kayaking, and rafting.
Park gates will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to welcome approximately 800 participants the Corps expects to turn out to enjoy this white water event. The Corps expects to release about 1,500 cubic feet per second (cfs) for both Ball Mountain and Townshend Dams from about 10 a.m. until about 2 p.m. on both days. These flows will allow canoeists, kayakers, and rafters to enjoy the river. The 8-mile run from Ball Mountain Dam to Townsend Lake has class I-IV rapids.
The water releases that support these recreational activities are subject to an adequate volume of water being available and could be cancelled or modified during low flow or high flow events.
Ball Mountain Dam, on the West River in Jamaica, was constructed at a cost of $11 million in 1961 to reduce flooding. The 915‑foot‑long, 265‑foot‑high dam can impound a 54,600‑acre‑foot reservoir, which is equivalent to 17.8 billion gallons of water. Since it was placed in operation in 1961, it has prevented damages of $162.2 million. The reservoir area offers many recreational opportunities, including swimming, picnicking, fishing, hunting, canoeing, nature study and camping at Winhall Brook Camping Area in South Londonderry. Ball Mountain welcomes more than 130,000 visitors each year.
Townshend Dam, on the West River in Townshend, is 1,700 feet long, 133 feet high and cost $7.4 million to construct. Its lake can hold a 33,700-acre‑foot reservoir with a capacity to store 10.8 billion gallons of water. Since it was placed in operation in 1961, it has prevented damages of $137.1 million. The reservoir area offers many recreational opportunities, including swimming, picnicking, fishing, hunting, canoeing, boating and nature study and annually attracts nearly 81,000 visitors.
Ball Mountain Lake is located at 88 Ball Mountain Lane off of Route 30 or Route 100 in Jamaica. For more information on the white water event or Corps recreation there contact the Ball Mountain Lake project office at (802) 874-4881 or visit the website:
---end quoted from [http://www.nae.usace.army.mil/Media/NewsReleases/tabid/11736/Article/499897/corps-of-engineers-supports-canoeists-kayakers-and-rafters-on-west-river-with-w.aspx] ---
8 years ago
by Mark Lacroix
We have had releases on this reach but don't show any currently. This information is
gathered by the public. If you know about releases then contact us about them. If
you would volunteer to enter the releases, then reach out to us.
Check the Army Corps of Engineers discharge site for recent flow, stage, and rainfall data.
2011 West River releases (Ball Mtn & Townsend dams)
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
put-in from dam
beginning of dumplings
West put in
Upper West valley
Ball mtn dam portage
Almost a Pin (NOT)
Result of a perfect setup
Topo Duo Rolling
Topo Duo ender success
Topo Duo ender attempt
West river ender hole
Ball Mountain Dam portage
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
The Vermont Supreme Court decided today that whitewater boaters have the right to paddle on the Green River. The Supreme Court affirmed the decision by the Environmental Division of the Superior Court that required the hydropower project on the Green River in Morrisville to provide three annual scheduled releases. This is a precedent setting decision because it establishes that whitewater boating is a designated and existing use protected under the Clean Water Act, that scheduled releases are necessary to protect that use, and that Vermont ANR failed to meet its burden to show that providing scheduled release would result in a lowering of water quality.
The Vermont Superior Court sided with American Whitewater in a long-running dispute with the state over whitewater boating on the Green River in Morrisville. The Court overturned state restrictions that would have eliminated any meaningful opportunity for boaters to enjoy this extraordinary river and required scheduled releases in a ground breaking decision.
In response to of the state’s draft basin plan for southern Vermont, American Whitewater and scores of boaters pressed the state to support the expansion of releases on the West River. Restrictions by the Corps of Engineers and Agency of Natural Resources have led to the elimination of nearly all scheduled boating opportunities on the West River over the past two decades, eliminating recreation opportunity and hurting the local economy. AW and its partners have been working to restore these releases.
Last weekend, 1500 boaters came out to the West River in Jamaica, VT to enjoy the annual whitewater release from the Army Corps Ball Mountain Dam. The release was up in the air until the last minute due to low reservoir levels caused by the installation of hydropower generators in the dam. AW, along with its partners and affiliate clubs, continues its effort to secure additional opportunities to boat on one of the northeast's most treasured rivers.
A hardy group of northeast boaters climbed into the natural river channel below a hydropower dam to participate in a flow study designed to assess whether whitewater flows should be restored to this dewatered river reach on the Connecticut River. While significant obstacles remain, this site has the potential for providing instruction, playboating, and a big water feature that that could be run throughout much of the year and provide a much needed boost to the local economy.
Vermont Paddlers Club have stepped up to help out with a low key, paddler driven river clean-up on the West River this weekend. Bring your own bags and gloves if possible, and dispose of all trash in the State Park dumpsters after your run or at your convenience.
A decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to abandon efforts to restore Atlantic salmon to the Connecticut River basin could change the game for whitewater releases on the West River in Vermont.
American Whitewater recently joined regional paddling and conservation partners in seeking additional class III paddling opportunities on Vermont's Little and West rivers. The requests were formal filings made to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
This week American Whitewater, New England Flow and the Vermont Paddlers Club are filing a detailed written request for studies relating to a proposed hydropower project on the popular West River. The requested studies would provide critical insight into the effects of the proposed project on recreation, hydrology, and Atlantic salmon.
The Army Corps of Engineers announced today that they will be releasing 1500-1800cfs all weekend (March 26-28). Read the full article for details, and as always, be safe out there.
A private hydropower company has proposed to install hydropower generation facilities in two Army Corps of Engineers Dams on the West River (VT), including Ball Mountain Dam which provides releases into the popular whitewater section of the West. The Company, Blue Heron Hydro (BHH) is hosting a public meeting and site visit to discuss their proposal. Paddlers interested in the effects that the hydropower installation may have on the West River are encouraged to attend the meeting and site visit.
The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is currently investigating opportunities for restoring natural functions to the Connecticut River Watershed in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont. TNC's efforts are focused on reconnecting rivers and streams, restoring floodplain forests, and managing flows for people and nature. AW is working with TNC, and we are hopeful that this process will benefit several whitewater rivers and their enjoyment.
There will be a release from Ball Mountain Dam on the West River this weekend to manage reservoir levels. Ramping will start late Friday (6/26/2009) afternoon. Flows are expected to be 1500 cfs all day Saturday and most of Sunday (definitely in the morning).
By this time many paddlers are well aware that there will be no spring scheduled whitewater release on Vermont’s West River for the first time in decades. AW and our partner groups in New England have been unsuccessful in securing these releases, after significant efforts were made over the past several months (and years). The Army Corps of Engineers decided to release the water on April 1 without alerting the paddling community of this significant change. We will continue to work with the Corps and the other agencies involved to improve communications and reach a more mutually agreeable release schedule for next spring.
Paddling representatives were shocked this week to receive a letter from Richard Carlson of the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) stating that the spring release on the Vermont’s popular West River would be made during the week rather than on a weekend as has been the practice for decades. This news follows an ACOE decision last fall to move the release earlier into the spring when the state park that provides access is closed. We ask that West River paddlers take action on this issue.
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