Joe's Brook - W. Danville to covered bridge

Joe's Brook, Vermont, US


W. Danville to covered bridge

Usual Difficulty IV(V) (for normal flows)
Length 10 Miles
Avg. Gradient 100 fpm
Max Gradient 140 fpm

Max slide

Max slide
Photo @ 3 Apr 06

River Description

From the putin to takeout, this remarkable river is almost nonstop. Only a few short flat sections disturb continuous whitewater, along the whole 10 Miles. A number of ledge drops, slides and constrictions form the whitewater interest. This has to be unique amongst Vermont rivers in having so much whitewater, for such long distance.
This river can be split into a number of sections, to allow mixed ability groups to enjoy this great run. Eddies are fairly small, and a lot of rapids crop up around bends or under bridges. There is also a considerable tree presence, although at the time of writing (Apr 06) none were riverwide.
The complete run, 10 miles in total, can easily be completed in a day by a fast moving group who are not going to portage too much.

Power Plant to Greenbanks Hollow Covered Bridge (the only covered bridge on the river!): Class II- III (IV)- 3.6 Miles
The section starts off fairly mellow, drifting lazily through cedar woods. There are 4 or 5 ledge drops and one major series of slides rapid in this section. All are fairly easy to inspect or portage, particularly the major slide, since it is roadside.

Greenbacks Hollow Covered Bridge to Morses Mill Bridge on Joe's Brook Road: Class III-IV(V) - 2.8 Miles
Takeout to inspect prior to heading under the covered bridge. Serious horizon lines and gradient lies below. This is the biggest rapid on the river, and consists of a number of ledge drops and slides back to back. This is easily inspected or portaged on river left. From the end of this rapid, for the next couple of miles you are assaulted by a series of almost back-to-back ledge drops and slides. Notable amongst these are the waterfall drop. In high water this section can be fairly intimidating!

Morses Mill Bridge to Rte. 5.: Class III (V) - 3.6 Miles
Passing beneath Morses Mill Bridge, the river continues swiftly, and soon enters a short gorge. There are several drops a couple of feet in height. Groups have encountered ice bridges here in the early season. A few flat water sections follow. The last few bridges on the river hold interesting rapids beneath them, including the "constriction," which has a tricky drop and meaty hole. One more bridge rapid lies in wait downstream, then continuous easy water to the takeout. In low water, this last section can be boney!

To putin:
View the Dam spillway in West Danville on Rte. 2. There is a scarily large rapid just below the spillway! Continue East on Rte. 2 for a few hundred yards, and take the next right hand turn, Power Plant Road. This leads shortly down to the river and power plant. From here, you can get a visual on the water leaving the power plant. The putin is right below the plant.

To takeout: I hope you have your gazetteer! There are a number of roads in the Joe's Brook vicinity. Some run parallel to the river for a period, but none parallels the whole length. There are a large number of bridge crossings, so you can inspect partially on the way down.
Our preferred route was to continue east into Danville, take Brainerd street, onto Joe's Brook Rd. Cross the river, and continue on river right Rd, until you hit route 5. Turn left and park immediately at the great takeout by the Rte. 5 bridge. There are several bridges on this last section, just off from Joe's Brook Road to allow easy scouting, and a large portion is roadside.

If you wish to inspect the main rapids on this run, you can view some between the Peacham Rd bridge, and the Greenbanks Hollow Covered Bridge .

Previous Trip Notes:
Posted on the VPC message board by Eric Bishop
Randy Allen suggested we check out Joe's Brook, which flows out of Joe's Pond in W. Danville, and, despite the name, is a small river. It falls about 1000' between Joe's Pond and the Passumpsic River, a distance of about 10 miles.

It was snowing when we put on, after doing a little road and foot scouting. We paddled from the power station, at the bottom of Power Station Rd., just outside W. Danville Village, and took out at the closed off Greenbanks Hollow (covered) Bridge. This stretch of 4 miles or so had lots of continous class 2, a bit of just drifting and more class 3 to 3+ ledge drops than we could count. We spent a fair amount of time scouting drops but they were all runnable.

The section from Greenbanks Hollow Br. to Joe's Brook Rd. appeared to be considerably steeper and more difficult and we left it for another (warmer) day. Instead we drove around it, put in where the river flowed under Joe's Brook Rd. and paddled another 2 1/2 miles to Joe's Brook Hill Rd. This stretch was continous class 2, 2+ with many class 3 ledge drops and a class 3+ gorge just above a quickwater float to the take out.
From what we could see there was more class 2 (at least) in the remaining mile or so to the Passumpsic. The weather was bad but this could be the best day of paddling I have ever had. This river is special and at higher water would be a tremendous challenge.

Will Lyons shared:
A friend of mine took me and a few other guys down this run last spring. We ran from the covered bridge down to under a bridge with a cool rapid under it. We didn't run the drop under the covered bridge, but it looks like a solid IV with pinning potential. The rest of the run down consists mostly of slides with one 8-foot waterfall. Be careful on the waterfall and make sure to boof out because the pool isn't too deep at the bottom. Definitely a cool run and worth checking out if there's water. I don't know anything about levels or access, though. Enjoy.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2018-04-18 18:06:03


Rapid Descriptions

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User Comments

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July 1 2017 (564 days ago)
Tony ShawDetails
2017-07-01 Two large trees have toppled into the mini-gorge where the notorious ice bridge
sometimes forms in early spring. The first fallen tree creates a virtual river-wide obstruction
just below the "crux". It's bad because 1) the approach is around a blind corner, 2) the gorge is
walled in on both sides, and 3) the eddies on river left above this spot are miniscule or
non-existent. We've known for years that scouting this section on foot from Joe's Brook Rd. while
you set shuttle is a good idea if there's a chance the ice bridge is in play, but it's a good idea
even in the middle of summer (it turns out).