West - 5. Rock River (Newfane) to the Connecticut River


West, Vermont, US

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5. Rock River (Newfane) to the Connecticut River

Usual Difficulty I-II (for normal flows)

Waves at 7000 cfs


Waves at 7000 cfs
Photo of Luke Darling by Patrick Rogers (www.kayakingphotos.com) @ 7000

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
WEST RIVER BELOW TOWNSHEND DAM NEAR TOWNSHEND, VT
usgs-01155910 500 - 10000 cfs I-II 52d00h40m 46.4 cfs (too low)


River Description

Dummerchuck - The West Dummerston, Vermont, Section of the West River (South of Townshend Dam)

Directions:

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.

River Description:

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.


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2012-05-30 19:00:50

Editors


Rapid Descriptions

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