Dummerchuck - The West Dummerston, Vermont, Section of the West River (South of Townshend Dam)
This section runs for 19 miles, from the Townshend Dam to the Connecticut River. There are numerous put-in and take-out spots, as this river follows Route 30 as it runs into the Connecticut River. The first 11 miles or so mixes sections of flat water with class 1 rapids and occasional, simple, class 2 rapids.
The section most often run by whitewater kayakers begins at the confluence of the Rock River and the West River. This confluence is located two miles upriver from the Dummerston covered bridge on Route 30. There is a large parking area on the right hand side as you head northwest on Route 30 at this point. There is one other bouncy class 2 rapid just upriver from this point as well.
Many paddlers, looking to play for an hour or two, put in at the West Dummerston covered bridge and take out at a small dirt road that is across from the convenience store/gas station on Route 30, about a half mile down river.
The normal takeout downstream is Deyo's Hole, a swimming hole about four miles downstream from the Rock River confluence. There is a small parking area on river right there (the left side of Route 30 as you head towards Brattleboro). To identify this from the river, look for a large rock face/cliff that is about 15 feet high on river left. It is a frequent jumping-off rock at the swimming hole. The exit is just across the river from there.
Although this is overshadowed by the Jamaica section of the West, this section is not to be ignored. Water levels here are driven by the Townshend Dam, which is downstream from the Jamaica/Ball Mountain Dam, and this section of the river is runnable far more frequently. The dam is run by the Army Corp of Engineers, and the only scheduled releases are the three a year that coincide with Ball Mountain Dam releases; however, there are probably 50 to 75 days a year when unannounced (and unpredictable) releases make the Townshend Dam section of this river runnable.
At a gauge reading of 500, this section is runnable, and there are some play waves below the covered bridge. At 700, a fluid run is possible. Because the gauge is 12 miles upriver, on wet days, the river level may be significantly higher than the gauge will lead you to believe because of the many tributaries that empty into it downstream from the dam. The river can be run at levels of up to 7,000, and perhaps more. At those levels, all but the largest rocks are washed out, and the river can become pushy for the novice. One rapid below the covered bridge will become class 3 (with a class 2 side route) at this level, and the waves will rise to over 6 feet in height. In general, this is a very good training river at the lower levels. It is wide, easily accessible from Route 30, and the views of the mountains that rise from the edge of the river are beautiful.
Just below the put-in, there is a bouncy wave train on the left hand side, and then some easy rapids before the river flattens out for about a mile. About a half mile above the covered bridge, the rapids return and there are a series of wave trains and surf spots. There are a couple of modest ledges on the left side, just above the covered bridge.
The best of the rapids are in the half mile section below the covered bridge. Many paddlers, looking to play for an hour or two, put in at the covered bridge and take out at a small dirt road that is across from the convenience store/gas station on Route 30, a half mile down from the covered bridge.
Just below the covered bridge on river left, there is a small ledge to play on, and the Summer Wave, located downstream from the covered bridge, is a park & play wave that can be run at low levels - some run it as low as 250. At high water, this rapid will become difficult for a beginner, but it can be avoided by going right. Below the Summer Wave, there is a wave train that ends just above some bridge abutments This is the take-out point for those who parked at the end of the dirt road across from the convenience store.
Just below the green iron bridge, which is about a mile down river from the covered bridge, you'll reach a rock garden with boulders that were kindly provided by various quarry owners over the years. This is a good section for eddy practice at the lower water levels, and at higher water levels, creates some waves and holes to dodge, as most of the rocks disappear.
The normal takeout downstream is Deyo's Hole, a swimming hole about four miles downstream from the Rock River confluence. There is a small parking area on river right there (on the left side of Route 30 as you head towards Brattleboro). To identify this from the river, look for a large rock face/cliff that is about 15 feet high on river left. It is a frequent jumping-off rock at the swimming hole. The exit is just across the river from there.
There are occasional class 2 rapids below the Green Bridge rock garden, with the best of them just above Deyo's Hole.
Below Deyo's Hole, the river continues for another four or five miles before reaching the Connecticut River. There are some class 1 and a few class 2 rapids in this bottom stretch (at higher levels, a few more class 2 rapids pop up). As you close in on Brattleboro, the river flattens out, and you reach a lagoon called the Retreat Meadow which has a number of islands and interesting birds. You can paddle through the Retreat Meadow to reach the Connecticut River.
Additional Information, posted by anonymous:
An easy wide river with few hazards. The most difficult section on this river is a ledge section at the West Dummerston covered bridge.
You can take out on river right just below the high interstate 91 bridge. You can access this from VT rt 30 out of Brattleboro. Or, continue to the takeout at a canoe livery on river left were VT rt 5 crosses the river.
8 years ago
by Mark Lacroix
Flows on this section of the West are regulated by the Army Corps of Engineers flood control dam about 12 miles upstream of the put in. Most of the time it is "run of the river". That means whatever comes in from above is passed through without any hold back regulation. Although, during high water event, the dam could be holding back water. Usually this water is slowly discharged several days after the event to allow boating for several days after the rainstorm.
Permits are not required for this reach.
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Waves at 7000 cfs
Paddling at 7000 cfs
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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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