New Haven, Vermont, US
|Usual Difficulty||IV+ (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||165 fpm|
|NEW HAVEN RIVER @ BROOKSVILLE, NR MIDDLEBURY, VT|
|usgs-04282525||300 - 1480 cfs||IV+||36d21h58m||129 cfs (too low)|
The New Haven "Ledges" is a classic Vermont creek run. It may be short, but there are plenty of great rapids and drops in that distance. Multiple runs are the norm, and it's a great place for an after-work run.
Putting in at Eagle Park be sure to use the path and not walk through the garden. The painted gauge is located on the fishermans platform. The first rapid is a fun boulder garden with multiple routes. Next up is "Chute by the Road" which is a good place to put in if the water is on the low side. A short pool leads to "Secret Compartment." This rapid seems to change often during high water events so if in doubt give it a scout. The river bends and pinches to a narrow slot that drops five feet up against a boulder on the right. The typical line is to be in the middle of the drop and keep your boat angle downstream. As the flow rises a hole develops in the right pocket. NEW HAZARD: as of December 2018 there is a Sieve in the river left eddy below Secret C. Some good boogie follows into S-Turn and into the start of the ledges. Beware of a pin rock known locally as "Vickers Rock" at the end of S-turn in the middle of the river. It's easy to get complacent here and decide too late to be left or right but once you know its there its easy to miss. The "Ledges" (slides) have multiple routes and are incredibly fun. As the flow increases the center hole and right side hole have dished up some beatdowns. Once through the ledges the river pinches into "Oh By The Way" a rapid that finishes with a boof on the right. The flow splits on the final boof and most try to stay high and to the right to avoid the left side "Schott Slot" that can be tricky to stay upright in. The river pours over a clean 3 foot boof on the right then widens to some shallow boogie. As the boogie starts to pick up you are entering the lead in to "Rooster Tail." The typical move is to start in the middle and punch the lead in holes then slide down the first shelf bringing you to the slide where most folks drive hard left to punch the hole at the bottom. "Toaster" is next a 15 foot falls with an auto boof. Its easy to run and lands in a big pool. Most run it center or just left of center. Avoid landing flat at low flows as it can be painful. A long pool leads to "Playpen" The lead in is long, fun and at high flows chaotic. Start right, stay with the water then go left of the giant boulder finishing left with a nice boof. There is a sieve in the right channel of the giant boulder up against the right wall. It is easy to run the left channel and avoid this hazard as long as you know it is there. When you land there will be another chute on the right bringing you to the top of another clean waterfall named "All American Boof." Run this six foot falls on the left side, there will be a large eddy to land in. Peal out of the eddy and drive far right to run "Mama Tried" on the far right side of the drop avoiding the hole in the center. At high flows you can run Mama Tried far left known as "Small American" into an eddy. Below is the final rapid "Hip Shot" that has a four foot drop into a slidiing shelf and finishes with a slide under the Route 116 Bridge. If the river is fluid look for the "Skyboof" to be in at the start of Hip Shot as the name implies it is a great boof! Take out on river left after the bridge.
Painted Gauge: 6" = Minimum, 1ft = Medium low, 1ft 6" = Medium High, 1ft 10" = High, Over 2ft the run is countinuous and full on V+ (consider the Lower New Haven or Top New Haven as alternatives)
Local Advice: If the river is starting to get scrapy good alternatives are the Lower Mad, Otter Creek Falls or Middlebury Gorge. Keep in mind the online gauge is a good indicator however it is about 6 hours delayed and a few tributaries flow in after the ledges but still above the gauge. Be curtious in the church parking lot. Do not drive on the grass, pick up trash and be descrete when changing clothes.
Guidebooks: Let It Rain by Alden Bird and Steep Creeks of New England has more info on this run.
From Bristol, take Rte. 116 East for a couple of miles. Just after crossing the New Haven, take a right onto Lincoln Rd. and follow toward West Lincoln. Put in about 1.5 miles up this road, above all visible rapids, before entering West Lincoln, where there is a large parking area on the right. Most rapids can be scouted from the road on the way up, or from convenient pull-offs.
To takeout: head downstream, back to 116, and take a left. Cross the bridge and park in the White Church parking lot next to the river. Please change conservatively. On a busy church day, park in the last pull-off on Lincoln Rd.