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.
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.
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.
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.
5 years ago
by Will Robens
7 years ago
by Mark Lacroix
Permits are not required for this reach.
Take 100C North out of Johnson.
At the covered bridge 1/4 of a mile up the road.
Put in (lower):
Approximately 1 mile up from the take out turn right onto Sinclair road (just before crossing the river). There is a small pull off next to the river about 1/10 of a mile up the road here, across from a small sugar shack. If it is spring and they are there please make sure to talk to them to make sure it is okay you use this pull off.
Put in (upper):
Do not turn on Sinclair road - instead continue across the river and up 100C for another mile or two until you see Whitcomb Island Road on the right. Take this Whitcomb Island Road until you cross the river again and come to an immediate T. There is a pull off on the left directly above the bridge, please do not block the fire hydrant, and be discrete/considerate here as there are houses and families around.
Dam on upper Gihon.
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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.
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.
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