Farmington - 3. Tariffville Park (Simsbury) to Highway 187 (Tariffville Gorge)

Farmington, Connecticut, US


3. Tariffville Park (Simsbury) to Highway 187 (Tariffville Gorge) (Tville)

Usual Difficulty II-III (varies with level)
Length 1.68 Miles
Avg. Gradient 15 fpm
Max Gradient 40 fpm

Bob Taylor at T'ville

Bob Taylor at T'ville
Photo of Tariffville by Michael Phelan @ 3

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-01189995 1.20 - 7.10 ft II-III 01h09m 3.03 ft (running)

River Description

Tville (as it's called by locals) contains some of the most popular and consistent whitewater in Connecticut.

You can either run the river or park and play. Most boaters choose to park and play. To park and play, park at the end of Tunxis Ave. on the East Granby side, and walk down the dirt trail to the river. From here you can access the majority of the play features Tville has to offer, and still walk back up to your car when you're done.

Most boaters that run the river put in at Tariffville Park and takeout either at Tunxis Ave. (which avoids the slightly tougher sections of the gorge) or takeout after the former location of the broken dam.

Most evenings in the summer a solid crowd of friendly and inviting paddlers can be found throwing down in Tville's great play holes. Boaters from all over the area come here because there's consistent flows, year round, that provide a variety of options for play and river running. Stop by and check it out, you won't be let down.

2.4 feet on the gauge is considered to be the best playboating level at the lower, main hole. It can be surfed down to about 1.5 feet, and starts to flush out around 2.7 feet. However, at 3.0+ feet, a hole above this feature called Babylon begins to form that offers some good rides.

Tville is, however, not without some areas for concern. There are a series of concrete bridge abutments that have been the site of a fatality due to a pinned boater. These abutments supported the bridge that connected Tunxis Ave. in East Granby to Tunxis Ave. in Tariffville. They are located on the river left and river right side of the river where it passes Tunxis Ave. They can be safely navigated down the center of the river, or for a more challenging and bumpy ride, on the river right side. They're not an overwhelming dangerous feature, but boaters should make a point to never come into physical contact with the abutments when traveling down river to avoid a pin.

Previously, there was a broken dam downstream of the main play area. However, this dam was removed in 2012. More information can be found on the Farmington River Watershed Association's website.


Hole to China Slide:

Description from David Silk:

At flows above 5.8 paddle across from just above the takeout bridge to the tributary on the far shore. Hike up stream and over the highway exit ramp to the top of the slide. The slide itself is ~60ft long and drops 15ft. Put in on river left in the pool above the tunnel, and check for wood on your way up.

The below Hazard Warning! was posted on April 30th, 2017 on Facebook group "Where's the Whitewater at?". It has not been verified, but comes from a reliable source.

"I want to warn whatever people or organization that has hung slalom gates at T-ville that you need to look at them immediately! Paddling today we came across the wire strung just below the T-ville play hole it had evidently snapped or was vandalised recently. The wire had been tied back to a tree with the wire about 6" below the surface just a few yards below the play hole. This created a very dangerous situation. It would perfectly grab and possibly entrap any boater who was unaware. Luckily, the first of our group saw it and was able to warn people away from it. It was barely visible from upstream. looking like a piece of fishing line. We did remove the wire. it is now spooled on the river right shore where it was still attached." Thanks to Mark Schappert‎ for the info.



StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2018-05-23 15:17:58


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.8Bridge AbutmentsIIIHazard Photo
1.0Main HoleIIIPlayspot Photo
1.2Former Location of Spoonville DamIII+

Rapid Descriptions

Bridge Abutments (Class III, Mile 0.8)

Bridge Abutments

Bridge Abutments
Photo taken 07/10/05 @ ~2.8ft

The bridge abutments can be safely navigated down the center of the river, or for a more challenging line, on river right. These abutments were the site of a fatality when a boater became pinned there. Exercise caution.

Main Hole (Class III, Mile 1.0)

Bob Taylor at T'ville

Bob Taylor at T'ville
Photo of Tariffville by Michael Phelan @ 3

This hole, and several surrounding it, are the most popular features on this section of the river. The majority of boaters park at the end of Tunxis Ave and walk or paddle down to this location and surf. You can either walk back up to the parking lot from this point if you like.

Former Location of Spoonville Dam (Class III+, Mile 1.2)

This formerly broken dam was removed in 2012. No notable rapids exist in its former location.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
August 12 2013 (1947 days ago)
David SuDetails
6/14/2013 old dam site and immediately above, ~7pm, gauge 7.12' = ~7000cfs, with Mike Campbell and
Andy Kuhlberg, investigated new high water waves at and above the site of the removed dam. New big
surf is "Brave New Wave." Several big, pulsing waves, the new hole at the last ledge "Inquisition"
very retentive at least down to 3.5'. Best surfs at this level were not optimal for playboats (too
short) or slalom boats (too long); would have favored boats 7-9' long. Posting 10 photos and videos
when site problems are cleared.
June 9 2013 (2011 days ago)
Martin WittmannDetails
Tariffville Gorge at 5.5-5.6 feet... At 5.5 feet, the T'ville park 'n play spot is where the dam
was. Andy Kuhlberg is dead on about the good surfing there. Ran into him there and tried it all
out. Good eddy service for the small wave (~2 foot, named "velcro"?) on river left, and if you're
lucky you can ferry onto the bigger waves (5-6ft) in the center of the river. Not easy in a
playboat though... an Axiom or Pirouette ought to manage it very nicely. You can also carry up,
paddle into the flow and try to catch it on the fly, but it's hard to slow down enough to stay on
the wave. Andy caught a good ride on it on his last pass today. There's also a good secondary wave
just behind and surfer's left of the 2 ft. wave that's not too hard to catch. And at 5.5 feet,
there is as much water flowing through T'ville as the Kennebec on a normal release day, so it's
very fast, with some big water boils on the eddy lines, reminiscent some of the squirrely eddy
lines on the Ottawa. Up at the normal play spot, the water is in the trees and with a little effort
you can ferry into Klingon, which is about a 5 ft high wave hole with a big foam pile. And Pencil
Sharpener, behind it, is a somewhat lower wider wave hole. Looks like it could be a lot of fun once
you get past the intimidation factor. Andy and I each tried it a few times. It's very easy to bust
through everything... not retentive at all. Definitely could toss you around some though. But
beware that you have to paddle pretty hard left to get into the eddy... I rolled on one pass and
washed down over the small ledge at the end of the pool before I could get back over to the left.
Be very careful about running down from the playhole to the dam site. Others have posted about the
very large hole on river right, just at the top of where the dam pool used to start. At 5.5 foot,
it looks very very uninviting. Even getting past it on river left is not so simple. There is a
sizable swirly eddy on river left just above the drop, formed by some rocks on the left, that is
not too hard to get into. From there, there is a sneak route on the left bank that Andy and I both
took but we had to get over/past a 6" partly submerged log blocking access. One could also go just
to the right of the rocks forming that left eddy, but at this level even the water on the approach
to the drop is very boilly, and there is a seam you have have to get across that looks like it
could stop you, especially in a smaller boat. I don't think anyone knows yet how retentive the hole
on river right is, but it looks like it could give you a thorough thrashing at a minimum (think
Phil's right side on the Ottawa). I'd say that spot is definitely class IV and on the way to class
V at 5.5 ft. You can hike up from the dam and get somewhat of a view of that drop from below, but
it's hard to see the details, so definitely exercise due care. At the dam itself though, although
the water is boilly and fast-moving, the wave play is a III-III+. You just have to manage the boils
and work to get back to the sides of the river.
March 22 2010 (3186 days ago)
aodhan (150580)
This is far from professional advice, but since I felt like there was little information besides
what the river is like at the 'optimal' level, I thought I'd share my opinion of what I experienced
at 5.2 on the gage. Also, rivers are constantly changing and any information which I have provided
here may not still be true as of your reading this. If in doubt, always scout! The river is high
enough that most of the trees are now potential strainers and some attention should be given to
them. The bridge abutments are completely covered and unnoticeable (besides the power lines which
are above them) other than a slight pile below the lowest abutment on the right. I found no good
eddy to stop at after I took the bend just after the gazebo until after the bend just after the
bridge abutments. The final rapid was a big surprise as, right below the typical play hole, a
rather large hole (at least 2 or 3 times the size of the typical play hole) opened up at river
center and was surprisingly sticky). All in all, this would be a good level for an intermediate
paddler, preferably one with a solid combat roll. It's a bit of a stressful section if you have a
beginner with you, though. -Matt

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