Mill River, Vermont, US
|Usual Difficulty||II-IV (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||90 fpm|
|Max Gradient||140 fpm|
Posted by Jim Zamecnik on the VPC message board
The Clarendon Gorge is a 2.5 mile class 3-4 run (at low water) on the Mill River in Clarendon. It's actually 2 gorges separated by a mile and a half of easy water, which is split by a fun cascade drop half way down. The average gradient for the run is 90'/mile. The put-in is at the Appalachian/Long Trail trailhead on route 103 southeast of Rutland, and the takeout is just off route 7b where the river goes under route 7.
There's currently no gauge (I hope to fix that soon), but the level was low: the river above the gorge was too low to paddle. We started just upstream of the suspension footbridge on river right. The entrance to the upper gorge is through a narrow chute that has a few hidden rocks at this level. The gorge is 0.3 mile of class 3-4 pool/drop ledges with a gradient of 140'/mile. Another foot of water would definitely push it up to class 4. The scenery is great-- high rock walls topped with overhanging hemlocks.
When you exit the gorge there's 0.75 mile of class 1-2 water (barely passable in spots at this level) until you reach the class 4 drop at the covered bridge. You'll see the bridge below and the old mill building on the right. Scout from river left (the mill is now a private residence and the right bank is posted land). The cascade drops about 20' in 3 steps, the last being the largest. At this level you can start center or right, and finish right. More water might open up a left-side option.
From here it's more class 1-2, about a mile, to the class 5 entrance to the lower gorge (known locally as "Devil's Gorge"). Take out on the right when you see the walls of the gorge closing in ahead. The portage is also class 5, climbing up and over the slippery marble ledges, then 25' down a muddy crack in the rock and the near vertical gorge wall. (Or maybe otter in if you can find a place to perch on the ledges?) The lower gorge is extremely narrow (less than 10' in places), with higher, darker walls (80-100') and slightly bigger drops than the upper gorge. The gradient here is 175'/mile. Spectacular! You'd never know you were within a few hundred yards of a 4 lane highway and not far off the end of a runway. About 0.4 mile of pool/drop ledges bring you to the end of the gorge, then it's a few hundred yards of moving flatwater to the take-out at the rocky beach on river right upstream of the route 7 bridge.
3, with several 4's. One of which is not portageable... Also, don't miss the takeout
for the Must
portage... It has been run, but from what I hear it wasn't pretty. At the level I saw it, I was not
tempted to run it...
Note: there are issues with scouting on this reach. In particular, much of the river-left land is posted, and the river-right landowner at the Mill Drop has expressed a wish that paddlers paddle this stream. Should you choose to run this stretch, please keep as low a profile as possible. Here's a discussion from NPMB of this issue.