Wells - Old Bridge to Lower Dam

Wells, Vermont, US


Old Bridge to Lower Dam

Usual Difficulty IV-V (for normal flows)
Length 1 Miles

Taking it in the rear

Taking it in the rear
Photo of Kevin Tompsett by Jolyon Rivoir-Pruszinski

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-01139000 160 - 1000 cfs IV-V 64d20h07m 167 cfs (running)
Upper limit for best boatability uncertain. Please help your fellow boaters with a comment or report.

River Description

Jolyon Rivoir-Pruszinski recommends that boaters park at the Vermont Fish and Game area and carry up to the putin if possible. it's a short walk and you won't be on private land.

4 major drops plus stuff in between:
1. Drop under bridge (IV).
2. Next drop tougher (IV).
3. Technical III-IV for a few hundred yards after, then short backwater above a class V waterfall. Do not run unless you are confident that you can land out beyond the rock in the crease on river left. Warning: even succesful runs of this drop have resulted in compressed spines and dislocated shoulders. Unsuccesful runs have resulted in seriously damaged equipment. The gauge is in the backwater to this drop. Below the waterfall is a good splat spot on river right.
4. A couple hundred yards of II-III lead to the class-III entrance to the final big drop (IV+). This final drop can be run RR or RL. The RR line is very straightforward but there is a pinning rock on the right hand side in the middle of the chute. The RL line is a deceptive scout. Few have run it succesfully on the first try.
If you do run it, hug the boulder in the center of the river around which the river splits and then once past this section either dart left to a microeddy above the final slide or head right down the slide.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2005-04-29 06:29:34

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.
May 23 2016 (635 days ago)
deimezis (157804)
Trees still blocking left channel of last drop as of 5/22/16
May 10 2014 (1379 days ago)
Mjohnson_11 (154333)
There is a tree down across the river after the last rapid. It's not in the rapid itself but looks
like it could be a big problem for a swimmer. Take a look if you're running it. It might need to be
cut out at some point.
April 18 2014 (1401 days ago)
Mjohnson_11 (154333)
As of 4/18/14 the left line on the last rapid has changed with the last flooding. There are now two
big stone blocks in there that weren't there before. If you're headed there definitely take a look
at it. The run to the drop probably also changed a little and there's a hole in the runout that's a
little meatier. The right line through the main part of the drop is the same as before though.
June 29 2013 (1694 days ago)
AlexToth500 (155623)
There is some wood after the "boof" before the waterfall but it was easily avoided at 500 cfs
April 15 2013 (1769 days ago)
Emeyer (155273)
As of 4-13-2013 the log in the waterfall has been removed. Still worth a careful scout.
April 8 2013 (1776 days ago)
Emeyer (155273)
There is a log pinned vertically in the river left side (a.k.a the "race line") of the waterfall.
It's about 5-6" in dia, and as high as the falls. It is very hard to see without scrambling all the
way to the bottom as the log is tucked back in a notch and very dark in color. You can see a small
rooster tail coming off the top of the log from the top of the falls. Scout this very carefully.
After scouting from the top with two other boaters we all missed seeing the log and I ran the drop
on 4/5/13 and made solid contact with it on the way down.
October 3 2011 (2329 days ago)
bseitz234 (153586)
Went up to the Wells yesterday (10/2/11) and it was pretty much unchanged since Irene. One new log
resting on top of a rock in Labyrinth, which is entirely out of play, it just looks like it is.
Otherwise, it's the same as ever!
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,
October 29 2009 (3033 days ago)
x (1)
The trees mentioned have shifted in recent rains and are no longer a hazard so long as you remain
river center or right. They are very much in play on river left, so don't go there!
July 1 2009 (3154 days ago)
x (1)
Ran the Wells today after an early summer rain that spiked the gauge. As of today, 6/30/09, there
are two downed trees forming river-wide strainers above the waterfall. Take out and portage
immediately after the rapid preceding the waterfall. These trees could be potentially dangerous -
if the river comes up again this summer, please be careful and scout for wood when necessary!

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