As of September 2011 and Hurricane Irene, the river is completely different. I'm leaving the info below for historical records, but the three major drops are no longer really there. Cave Drop is there in some form, but is relatively straightforward compared to how it used to be. The following rapid is best run down the river left channel. Mushroom is no longer really a distinct rapid, although there is a steep boulder garden in its place. BLT has also changed dramatically and now has a much longer lead-in, but more runnable options in the bottom.
Overall, the river is still very good and very runnable. It is still predominantly steep boulder garden. A few sections have been scoured to bedrock. There are some sievier spots than there used to be; hopefully these will fill in over time. The river needs more water than it used to, as the bed is much wider and less channelized than it was before Irene.
Greg and Sue Hanlon's Steep Creeks of New England has more info on this run. This run is totally continous from the moment you put in, until you take out. Beautiful boofs, slots and drops. Three drops stand out: Cave Drop, early in the run, has been the site of a few mishaps. The rapid that follows should be run right, down the rocky sneak. Mushroom, is a long rapid terminating in a rock with water piling on it. Boof left twice, is the largest signle drop on the river, and occurs about half way down. There's plenty more to keep you busy though, right to the takeout.Directions: Head North on Rte. 7 from Manchester about 12 miles to Danby and Mount Tabor. Turn right on Mount Tabor Rd. one mile to the Big Branch takeout; park in the pull-off before the bridge. To putin: Continue upstream to the Big Branch picnic area. Take the switchback trail down to the normal putin. If the water's high, putin upstream where the Long Trail crosses the river; to get there, continue up the road to the Long Trail; hike the trail about a mile to the river. If the water is really high, you'll want to take out at the normal put in!
This winter's heavy winter weather or a micro burst of wind dropped a lot of wood throughout the run. Uprooted trees were river wide in spots, and there are plenty of substantial strainers here and there from the upper put-in to the take-out. Definitely heads up boating.
Ran it 9/24/2011 at what was probably 2-3 on the old gauge. Unbelievably different but everything goes and it still has the same kind of structure(mostly). Bottom of steep rapid below cave has an issue. Definitely some scouting to be done first time down. Think of it as finding a brand new river right close to home.
I have tons of pictures of this run: http://picasaweb.google.com/ngottlieb/BigBranch?feat=directlink
7 years ago
Hurricane Irene flooded away the gauge rock. A new one will be painted soon... For a rough guide about what water levels are doing in the area, check the Walloomsac gauge.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
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Mike McDonnell in the old BLT.
Rapid Before the Bridge
Boof Left Twice
Nick Boofing Left Twice
Big Branch Visual Gauge
The Last Drop
Cave Drop from Above
Frostin on the cake
BLT for dinner
cave drop also
boof left twice
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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.
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.
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