Briggs Woods Spillway/Ditch 166 - near Webster City (0.3 mile)

Briggs Woods Spillway/Ditch 166, Iowa, US


near Webster City (0.3 mile)

Usual Difficulty II-III+ (for normal flows)
Length 0.3 Miles
Avg. Gradient 20 fpm
Max Gradient 20 fpm

Briggs Woods Spillway

Briggs Woods Spillway

River Description

The run is an action-packed, fast ride which consists of five ledge drops. This spillway drops nearly 20 feet in 0.3 mile, for an 'effective gradient' of about 60 FPM.

The first 3 ledges are 3', 4' and 5' drops respectively. Punch them at the center for clean landings. A short section of flat water precedes ledges 4 and 5, which are closely spaced for a cumulative drop of 6+ ft (try to stay right of center at the very bottom to avoid a SHARP block that severely dents and gouges boats and flesh ). Ledges 4 and 5 can't be scouted from your boat. The best part is there's a trail that parallels the run allowing you to scout the section first, then bag multiple runs. Scouting is highly advised as there's a huge potential for strainers and beaver dams.

Two drainages feed this short stretch: one that feeds the lake/spillway which then merges with the other drainage (Ditch No.166) for the rest of the run to the Boone River.

Note: The cover photo above is the last ledge in Ditch No. 166 before joining the Boone River.

Sharp rocks, beaver dams, narrow channel, micro-eddies, a fast ride. The spillway seldom has more than a trickle over it even when the ditch is flowing strong. If you do happen to find it cranking, scout it carefully and be warned that there are concrete 'current deflectors' about 12' from the spillway.

How to Get There:
Take Hwy 17 south from Webster City a couple miles until you see the signs for Briggs Woods County Park. Enter the park, go past the camp grounds & boat ramp and shelter 3 (north) to the end of the road. From there it's a short hike down to the spillway. Follow the outflow channel a little further to the ditch.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2009-05-06 07:56:17


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Briggs WoodsN/A

Rapid Descriptions

Briggs Woods (Class N/A)

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
August 13 2016 (849 days ago)
Information on Iowa Whitewater Coalition ( suggests
"currently access denied by Hamilton County Conservation" (on a page "Last Updated: 5/1/2016").
March 8 2005 (5024 days ago)
David WeberDetails
Groovy, nice to see all the added information for Iowa. Just a few pieces of info about ditch 166 /
Briggs Woods -- The photo on the main page there was taken by me, of Jayd Janovich around 1996 or
97 and is actually the third ledge. Since the last time I saw the ledge around 2003, there has been
considerable erosion lowering the drop height. I had to laugh when I saw the photo of the
"unintentional mystery move" because that was a feature back then too. In fact, we lost
one of the Ioaw State University Kayak Club's best paddles there on that trip for exactly that
reason. And I've spent a fair amount of time pinned to the bottom of that rapid myself.

Anyway, keep the faith. Nice to see there's someone still trying to kayak Iowa.

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