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Difficulty III+
Length 0.5 Miles
Gauge WINOOSKI RIVER NEAR ESSEX JUNCTION, VT
Flow Range 1000 - 10000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 23 minutes ago 1310 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 05/03/2020 1:39 am

River Description


This wide cascade between the Chace Mill (Burlington shoreline) and Champlain Mill (Winooski shoreline) is the nearest whitewater to downtown Burlington. It can be frustrating waiting for the optimum levels for the main features, but there is always some whitewater to be had. In normal summer flows the ledges are fun to run. At higher levels huge holes form, making it very dangerous. There are several smaller features and waves that form at a variety of levels, about and below the main falls, so go check it out. These features are very level dependent.

Just downstream of the road bridge is a large dam, constructed on top of a large fall. Usually there will be plenty of time to rescue swimmers but take care at higher levels. Except at levels below 1,000 cfs, paddling to points downstream of the bridge is strongly discouraged.  The trash rack on the river-right side of the dam amounts to a giant strainer where paddlers are concerned. The river flows through this rack into the power generation turbines or through fish bypass channels. Fortunately, there are very large eddies on river-left and river-right at levels up to at least 4,000 cfs, so if one is sensible and has decent skills one should be able to stay well upstream of the bridge.

A notable feature between the mills is the so-called Green Wave, which normally develops at flows between roughly 2,900 and 4,200 cfs at the upstream end of the large river-right eddy alongside the Champlain Mill. This wave gets better as the level above the dam drops, which happens occasionally as dictated by dam operations. (The dam is normally under automatic control.)
 
Downstream of the dam is Salmon Hole, where some more features form at various levels. Salmon Hole itself is a very large, slowly rotating pool, which empties into a wide Class II rapid running between an island and the river-right shoreline. At flows from 800 to 2,000 cfs, this rapid can be a good place for inexperienced paddlers to practice basic moving water skills. Salmon Hole is accessible by trail from Riverside Park, which is on Riverside Avenue less than two hundred yards from the bridge (and the dam).

A pleasant flatwater trip can be had heading upstream from Winooski Falls, for about 3/4 of a mile under the interstate bridge, and up to the next dam (downstream of Lime Kiln Road). There is a short rapid under the interstate bridge which is easy to carry around. It also offers some modestly sized play waves which are well worth stopping to enjoy at flows above 2,500 cfs and below 6,000 cfs or so.

Directions:- Head towards Winooski from Burlington. Take a right just before the bridge. Park uphill in the rear unpaved parking lot (at the bend in the river).  Putting in from the grassy bank next to the Winooski River Walk is also an option, but the free parking near the river are limited.

Flow Info:
The gauge is located upstream. There is no historical correlation data (?) so the range has been estimated based on the 75th percentile. If you run this section, please leave a comment with the level on the gauge.

Rapid Descriptions

Comments

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Christopher Weed
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4 weeks ago

Made a few more updates this evening.

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Paul Bicknell
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1 month ago

Updated the river description section with the help of Chris Weed to more accurately reflect the actual name of the falls and update the Salmon Hole wording

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12 years ago

Ran it today at 3,970cfs. It was a nice level. Ran river left of center. Down the wave train. The two biggest waves where about 8' or so. Be sure you get out before the dam.

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slater jay
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13 years ago

I have been out on the Winooski alot this summer and have become very familiar with what features come in at different levels. There are three main lines to be had at Winooski. After summer rains the level can reach between 5,000 and 10,000 cfs for several days in a row. At higher levels 6,000-10,000 a really fun slide comes in on river right near the walk way that is on the bank. You can put in where there is a sign that says canoe access this is located right at the first drop. This drop is a straight forward V with a smaller surfable wave and hole after the pourover. After this there are several eddy oppurtunities before you get to the slide. You will see where the walk way over hangs the river on the river right and there is a small two foot ledge to boof and then the slide starts the slide is money during high levels. The next line shows up on river left near chase mills, at these high levels 6,000-10,000cfs there is a large rolling pourover over the first drop and it goes into a decent size wave in the middle of the rapid followed by a house sized hole/wave which is the last part of the rapid. This thing gets huge and is seen in the picture shown on the discription. It is flushey and really big and at high levels this line is an easy high class IV rapid. Not for the faint of heart or the intermidiate paddler a bomb proof roll is a must because you will flip when you hit the house wave and about 200 yards down stream there is a damn that would result in immpending death. DO NOT RUN THIS LINE AT HIGH LEVELS UNLESS YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO BE SAFE! Expert level paddlers will have no problem seeing the line and staying on line.<br />
At lower levels the horse shoe in the middle of the set is good fun to go over, good levels for this line are under 1000cfs but if you're a strong paddler it can be run upwards of 1800cfs. At high levels all sorts of fun fast waves form bellow the last drop in the set some of which do have eddy service, just be on point, hit you're roll and get into the eddy line fast otherwise you will have to take out around the ledge next to chase mills. For park and play put in below the rapid and paddle upstream from the route 7 bridge the best high level stuff will be on river left under the house size wave.<br />
-Jay

Gage Descriptions

Low summer levels rarely drop below 100cfs. There will usually be something to paddle on at any flow, unless really high>10000

Directions Description


Directions:- Head towards Winooski from Burlington.  Take a right just before the bridge. Park uphill in the rear unpaved parking lot (at the bend in the river). 

No Accident Reports

Alerts

 

News

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VT Supreme Court Protects Whitewater Boating on the Green River

11/22/2019
Robert Nasdor

The Vermont Supreme Court decided today that whitewater boaters have the right to paddle on the Green River. The Supreme Court affirmed the decision by the Environmental Division of the Superior Court that required the hydropower project on the Green River in Morrisville to provide three annual scheduled releases. This is a precedent setting decision because it establishes that whitewater boating is a designated and existing use protected under the Clean Water Act, that scheduled releases are necessary to protect that use, and that Vermont ANR failed to meet its burden to show that providing scheduled release would result in a lowering of water quality. 

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AW Wins Court Battle Protecting Green River (VT) Boating

9/21/2018
Robert Nasdor

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.

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Northeast Boaters Seek To Expand West River (VT) Boating

12/6/2015
Robert Nasdor

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.

article main photo

Bellows Falls (VT) Flow Study Reveals Hidden Whitewater

6/2/2015
Robert Nasdor

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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Alex Barham

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Paul Bicknell

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Christopher Weed

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simon wiles

Revisions

Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1209391 05/01/18 Alex Barham
1214800 04/30/20 Paul Bicknell updated name
1214801 04/30/20 Paul Bicknell updated description
1214806 04/30/20 Paul Bicknell updated name
1214807 04/30/20 Paul Bicknell updated description
1214808 04/30/20 Paul Bicknell updated description
1214811 04/30/20 Paul Bicknell updated description
1214812 05/01/20 Paul Bicknell updated description
1214813 05/01/20 Paul Bicknell updated description
1214814 05/01/20 Paul Bicknell directions to the river
1214840 05/03/20 Christopher Weed updated description
1214841 05/03/20 Christopher Weed updated description
1214842 05/03/20 Christopher Weed updated description
1209370 04/30/18 Alex Barham Name and Location
1194383 04/01/09 simon wiles n/a