From the Northeast Paddlers' Message Board: Sumner Falls/Hartland Rapids is a series of ledges sprawled out across a wide section of the Connecticut River. Putin is at the beginning of the clearly marked portage trail. The simplest route down the rapids is to stay river left the entire time. In higher water you can drop down several of the small falls/chutes on river right. The wave is the first significant drop on river left, situated next to a large swirling eddy.
Take Interstate 91 North into Vermont to the Hartland exit (exit 9). Go left at the end of the exit ramp and go through the center of Hartland on Route 5 North. Continue on 5 North until you cross back over route 91. You will then immediately cross over a railroad bridge. After crossing the railroad take the second right (about 200 yards after the railroad bridge) onto a small dirt road and follow it to the end.
Check out the description in New England Nuggets from the AW Journal archives.
Everything to the left of the large rock island.
Long class II rapid with many surf waves. Just to the left of the island there is a chute that bypasses the last part of the rapid. At low levels (<5000), the last part of the rapid diverges. The far left channel is somewhat technical, whereas the line that turns sharply to the right is easier.
Another common line is to go down the wide ledge towards river center. Around 4000 cfs, this ledge has a small, but surprisingly retentive hole.
The ledge to the right of the large island drops all at once, and is shorter but more difficult. At certain levels, there are good boof spots here.
From the Northeast Paddlers' Message Board: The flow is regulated by Wilder Dam 7 miles upstream. For advanced release info, call 1-888-FLO-FONE (1-888-356-3663). Select #5. Favorite playboat levels are from 3000 - 5000 (between two and three tubes on the phone), but there is good class I - III terrain for all paddlers to work out with at most levels above 700. From the time they release at the dam, it takes about 3-4 hours to get to the playspot. The greater the level change, the longer it takes.
For current and the next days release information from Wilder dam go to the Waterline FlowCaste website. You can also call 1-800-452-1737 and at the prompt key in 505121 for the same web based information over the phone.
The basic features are:
The Sign Wave
Almost directly under the large danger sign on the NH side at the top of the rapid
A dynamic wave with good eddy service
Appears at levels above 11K.
The center wave
Located in the main channel between the tail of the island and the NH shore
The main summer playspot for spins, bow surfing and playboating with good eddy service
Appears at levels between 700 and 5000.
Formed by the ledge extending from the tail of the island to the NH side
Forms a tricky surf difficult to attain, but gives thrilling rides
Appears above 2000, eddy service washes out above 3500
There are many other on the catch on the fly waves at levels above 2000 and the area is an execellant place for a beginning boater to practice moving in and out of conflicting currents at all levels except spring extremes. There are special features during spring levels (as high as 55K) but care should be taken before ice-out as the falls are runnable, but the bay can be iced in
Permits are not required for this reach.
Put-in at a public park on the Vermont side. The entrance to the park is an unmarked dirt road about 2-3/4 miles north of I-91 exit 9. A few feet down the road is a wooden kiosk with park info (not visible from the main road).
The park entrance is this unmarked dirt road.
Bellows Falls Bypass
Surf wave river-right high.
Surfing waves river center-left
High water at hartland
Hitting Ends at Hartland Falls, VT
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 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.
Northeast boaters can celebrate that another beloved whitewater gem has been protected. Paddlers on the Winnipeseaukee River are now assured that the put-in on the Lower Winni in Northfield, NH will be forever protected thanks to the donation of a parcel from Gloria Blais in memory of her husband Roger. Gloria donated the land to the Town of Northfield for the purpose of assuring that future generations of boaters will have access to the river. Protecting river access to the Winni is part of an ongoing effort by AW in the northeast region to protect river access.
The relicensing of 5 hydropower projects along the Connecticut River is moving closer to conclusion with the release of the whitewater boating study report for Bellows Falls and Sumner Falls (NH/VT). American Whitewater and its affilliates filed comments today in support of the study conclusion that valuable whitewater boating opportunities exist at both locations. AW and its partners also recently filed comments in response to the Draft License Application filed by FirstLight for the Turners Falls and Northfield Mountain (MA) hydropower projects, demanding restoration of flows to the natural river channel.
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.
A 90 -mile stretch of the Connecticut River, flowing from Wilder Dam in Hartford, Vermont to Turners Falls in Massachusetts, will be the focus of three controlled flow studies this summer and fall. Five hydroelectric projects operated by TransCanada and FirstLight are up for relicensing by FERC. Flow studies are scheduled for June 28-29 at Sumner Falls and July 19-21 at Turners Falls. The Bellows Falls Study is scheduled for sometime in the early fall.
American Whitewater and Merrimack Valley Paddlers have reached an agreement to purchase a 10-acre parcel fronting on Contoocook River in Henniker, NH. The land serves as an important launch point for whitewater paddlers enjoying the popular section of the river that runs from Hillsborough to Henniker. This section of the Contoocook River contains rapids ranging in difficulty from Class II to Class IV.
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