Gihon - Whitcomb Island Rd to Johnson

Gihon, Vermont, US


Whitcomb Island Rd to Johnson

Usual Difficulty IV(V) (for normal flows)


Photo by Scott taken 05/09/10 @ 1740 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-04292000 1300 - 2800 cfs IV(V) 01h15m 363 cfs (too low)

River Description

The Gihon can be thought of as two sections, the upper and the lower.  These are separated by a mile of scenic flatwater through rolling Northern Vermont hills.  For a short run you can do just the lower, but the upper is certainly worth the flatwater.

Upper section:

Starts with a 25ft dam.  This is clean and incredibly fun.  Folks being led down for their first time are rarely allowed to scout (it is much more fun this way).  Check the bottom for wood and then slide over a few boat widths to the left of the center abutment.  If the level is above 3 on the painted gauge the hole at the bottom will start to get a bigger until the point where you won't want to run it.

Several class IV ledges/rapids follow in a beautiful gorge-like setting.  The culmination is Mustang, a big 3 stage rapid that plunges into a narrow gorge.  The left side is a dangerous looking crack and should be avoided.  The hole at the bottom is generally flushy but gets big as the level rises.  After this rapid is some gentle run-out and then the start of a mile or so of flatwater through rolling farm fields.

Lower section:

Begins at the obvious horizon line.  This two stager is referred to as Bed-Head.  It is the hardest rapid on the lower and can be portaged on the left.   Following are a half dozen or so class IV ledge rapids.  You can paddle all the way into town or take out below the rapid after the powerhouse covered bridge.


The guage listed here is on the nearby and large Lamoille.  The Gihon rises quicker and drops quicker, so when the level is coming up or down on the Lamoille the Gihon is likely a step or two ahead.

There is a painted gauge on the RR abutment of the powerhouse bridge. 

1 is minimum

1-2 is low

2-3 is medium

3-3.5 is medium high

3.5-4 is high (some of the rapids start to close out)

4+ is higher than recommended.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2015-07-12 23:51:45


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Rapid Descriptions

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User Comments

Users can submit comments.
June 5 2006 (4608 days ago)
Dave PackieDetails
The upper section put in is at the bridge on Whitcomb Island rd. Right turn off of 100c North from
Johnson. The first drop is a 25-30 foot dam slide that should be run to the left of the abutment.
Big but fun and safe, please be descrete here. After a short section of II there is a ledge drop
that splits the flow around some outcroppings. There is a bad piece of wood in the left side, run
the extreme right channel for a fun 4 foot boof. This is closely followed by "Balls to the
Wall", a fun dynamic drop of perhaps 8 feet. A few minor holes to punch, then move far right
(against the wall) and ride the tounge. The pool below the boof on the left is not deep. The river
then splits around another ledge, both sides can be run, but at all but very low water, the left
side offers a fun boof left. This drop is followed by the gorged in triple drop that I've heard
called Mustang after retired hair-boater and Director/camera man Brent Buckman. This should always
be scouted for new wood. Takeout and scout from river right. Sneaks open up for the first two drops
on the right. Low water also offers a fun double boof lead-in to the last drop, a constriction that
splits around a boulder. The left side looks like a potentially bad pin situation, the right side
is clean. Mustang drops a total of 20-30 feet over maybe 50 yards. It is a bueaty of a rapid. There
is an awesome seal slide into the gorge just below the last drop for those that wish to walk it.
After a few minor rapids there is a section of very scenic flat water, maybe 10 minutes. The next
drop is Bed Head. Great class IV run that comes up often. Look for Lamoille in Johnson to be 1500
and spiking, or up over 2000. Near-by run is the North Branch Lamoille. This river does collect
wood after high water.