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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Hi I'm looking for people to boat with in and around Connecticut. I just moved here from Montana and it hasn't been easy meeting boaters. If you need someone to paddle with who's a solid class IV river runner, with some V and creeking experience please drop me a line or a note. Thanks, Cooper 860-575-8473 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Gage minimum suggested by Jim Veltrop.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
DANGER - new strainer
In the hole
Playin in the hole
Tville Side Surf
Turn right at dam
tville loop 5
tville loop 4
tville loop 3
tville loop 2
tville loop 1
Bob Taylor at T'ville
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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.
Connecticut boaters have a great opportunity to protect the Lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook. One of the best tools for protecting our rivers from harmful dams and diversions is the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. American Whitewater is working with our partners in Connecticut to designate sections of these rivers as Wild and Scenic, including the Tariffville Gorge. We need paddler's voices to make this a reality. Please join us in supporting efforts to enact federal legislation that will permanently protect these rivers for future generations.
The University of Connecticut announced selection of Connecticut Water Co. as the preferred option to provide additional water needed for the Storrs campus. This option had been opposed by river watershed organizations at the local, regional, and national levels including American Whitewater. The Farmington River, including the Tariffville Gorge section, site of the annual New England “Triple Crown,” is an important paddling river.
American Whitewater has filed comments opposing the further diversion of water from the Farmington river in Connecticut by the Metropolitan District Commission. The Commission is proposing to divert up to 5 million gpd in order to supply the water needs of the University of Connecticut. The proposed diversion would reduce river flows and potentially affect paddling opportunities at Tarrifville, a valuable whitewater resource.
The National Park Service (NPS) has released for public comment a Study Report of Wild and Scenic River designation of Connecticut's lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook. Your comments filed before the October 17 deadline will help secure lasting protection for these rivers.
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