The Monroe Bridge Section of the Deerfield (also known as "The Dryway") is a popular class III-IV river that can draw a rather sizable crowd on release days. The river generally starts out easy then gets progressively harder as one paddles downstream.
If you are up for the challenge, the Dryway is a premier destination for most northeastern paddlers. If you are not up for class III and IV water, try a raft trip from one of many outfitters in the Charlemont area. Or, for an easier trip, try the Fife Brook section of the Deerfield just a few miles downstream.
The water in this three-mile section of the Deerfield is usually bypassed by a diversion canal from Dam #5 all the way down to the reservoir behind Fife Brook dam (which is where the nickname "Dryway" comes from).
In addition to boating, may raft companies offer guided trips down The Dryway (and its companion easier Fife Brook/Zoar Gap section downstream). These include Zoar Outdoor, Crabapple Whitewater, and Berkshire Outfitters.
First scheduled releases began in 1991 with approximately ten per year.
On October 5, 1994, whitewater boaters, fishermen, conservationists, government agencies, and the New England Power Company took a giant step together to protect one of New England's most important watersheds.
NEPCO (Now TransCanada Hydro), a major regional utility based in Westborough, Massachusetts, together with twelve environmental and recreation organizations and government agencies joined in an agreement that commits the company to enhance recreation, fisheries, and conservation along the Deerfield River in western Massachusetts and southern Vermont. The agreement is for 40 years and will guarantee 32 release days on the Dryway each Summer.
This was an enormous achievement by paddlers and organizers. It involved dozens of meetings, thousands of letters, and large turnouts of paddlers at last minute weekday evening hearings in southern Vermont and Western Mass. This was all done at a time when the internet was not established.
Read the article, from 1994, on the historic agreement which opened the Deerfield to regular whitewater paddling!
For an excellent description of the Dryway by Bruce Lessels go to Zoar Deerfield River Guide. For a description of the different dams and how the releases work go to this writeup by Bruce on the Zoar site.
American Whitewater Deerfield River Festival
Click here for information on the upcoming River Festival.
Campgrounds/Rafting/Paddling Shops & Misc.
Zoar Outdoors: Rafting, paddling shop, whitewater school, camping. Phone: 800-532-7483Country Aire Campground: Charlemont, MA 01339 Ph: (413) 625-2996
Mohawk Park: P.O. Box 668 Charlemont, MA 01339 Ph: (413) 339-4470
Mohawk Trail State Forest: Rte. 2, Charlemont 413 339-5504
Savoy State Park (413-663-8469)
DAR State Forest (413-268-7098)
Shortly below the put in Factory rapid is a straight forward drop with good eddies on river left. There are also a couple good surfing spots accessed from this side of the river. River right still contains some debris (rebar, metal, etc.) from the dilapidating factory just upstream.
Boof Rock drops one into the setup eddy for the wave. Called Disapointment because it is not quite a great hole or wave even though it looks much better. Look for a good eddy on river left after the flat section following Factory Rapids.
Also known as "Split Rock Rapid", "Initiation", "Left Turn", and "Governers Rapid" (after a front page picture of former Governer Weld here). A large midstream rock splits the flow just as the river takes a slight left turn. Just upstream of the rock on river left there is a micro eddy that services a nice dynamic wave. Most boaters choose to run to the left of "Split Rock" while rafts run to the right although either side is fine. After passing the rock the river takes another slight jog to the right. There is a rather large pourover near the bottom on river left that should be skirted to the right. This rapid has numerous play spots both above and below the split-hair rock.
Also called "Landslide" or "Pine Tree" (after the pine tree that hovered above the rapid in the early days). If you have run the Dryway once or twice before you may be fooled into thinking you are about to enter Dragon's Tooth at the top of the drop. The top of False Tooth rapid looks strikingly similar to the top of Dragon's Tooth. False Tooth is much easier with only a few big holes to punch. You can recognize False Tooth by the rock slide on river right of the rapid. You can also take-out above this rapid by climbing up the steep bank into the parking lot which overlooks this section of river.
Shortly after False Tooth, pull out on river left and scout Dragon's Tooth. Dragon's Tooth rapid is steep, narrow, and turbulent. The main feature to avoid is a large retentive hole above a shallow rock ledge protruding from river right - this whole feature is the "Tooth." This ledge creates a shallow recirculating hole just below the upper hole. The usual route starts from river right moving towards river left through heavy turbulence just to the left of the "Tooth". Use the left, flushy edge of the tooth to start to move back river right. After passing the tooth, drive hard right to avoid Rodeo hole or stay center/left through rodeo hole. Rodeo Hole is trashy, and pulls slow rafts/playboats back in for more occasionally.
There are other options for Dragon's Tooth by going far right and running a vertical slot against river right of the tooth. You can catch a micro-eddy directly river right of the hole. Or the most difficult maneuver doing the "Scary Ferry" from this same eddy just above the river right slot. The "Scary Ferry" is not for the light hearted or unskilled. It requires you to do a ferry just above and below two large recirculating holes caused by the Tooth. A missed ferry could cause you to get recirculated in the shallow sticky hole below.
Take out below Labyrinth where the access road approaches the river.
Below the takeout is a short but enjoyable rapid. Bounce off the rock/wave in the center and into the eddy. Open boats typically avoid this rapid since it results in a more difficult carry up the rocks to the take-out. Also known as "Bear Rapid" since there is a nice view of the Bear Swamp hydro project from here.
Hazard Warning: At levels where the big rock in the center is exposed, a nasty pillow/hole forms in front of it. The rock is also slightly undercut. A paddler got pinned/recirculated for a full minute in there, even after swimming. That feature has the potential to cause serious problems, especially for swimmers.
Interactive Panoram of the Dragon's Tooth taken July 2nd, 2012.
Posted in the event this can help anyone see what the rapids are like in this section of the river after hurican Irene.
Robert Farmer---I noticed on the Release Schedule Calendar, there is no release mentioned on July 25, 2009, for the Deerfield. Is this just an oversight? It would be nice if the organizers would update the info for this year on the webpage.
There are structural problems with the bridge spanning the Deerfield by the Deerfield #5 Dam. The Town of Monroe and the Town of Rowe will effectively close the bridge to all traffic tomorrow morning (4/30/08). Repairs will take about 8 to 10 weeks to complete. The two towns will do their best to install signage about the closure at alternate routes.
If you want a complete schedule of the water releases for the deerfield, you can go to www.zoaroutdoor.com, then look at the sidebar on the left. put your cursor over the tab 'The Deerfield River' and then a little side menu drops down and you can click on 'Whitewater Release Schedule' and scroll down to the bottom of the page, they have the gauranteed release days listed there. Enjoy! :)
they`re on the 2008 calendar
7 years ago
by Matt Muir
Call before you drive! For flow information call Waterline's free national telephone hotlines: 1-800-452-1737 for the Boater's Edition (1-800-452-1742 for the Angler's Edition). At the prompt, dial-in a six digit site code for the specific river each of interest. Monroe Bridge (a.k.a. The Dryway) #5 Bypass Dam site code 255122, (Fife Brook site code 255123). The information is usually updated by 5PM on the day prior to each scheduled release.
There are also spring flows that are not release-scheduled. Check the waterline page.
Also available at Waterline FlowCast website: http://www.h2oline.com/TRC.asp and http://www.h2oline.com/REL.asp. Individual gages can be accessed by including the site code in the URL (eg, http://www.h2oline.com/255122.asp).
Permits are not required for this reach.
Directions to Charlemont Mass via MapQuest from:
From Charlemont and Zoar Road intersection to put in
From the intersection of MA Rte. 2 and Rte. 8a North in the center of Charlemont go West on MA Rte. 2 approximately 2.2 miles to the Zoar Road intersection just before the Rte. 2 bridge crossing over the Deerfield. Turn right onto Zoar Rd. Zoar Road is marked by a green sign (To Rowe Monroe)
2.4 miles from Rte. 2, bear left on River Rd.
Approximately 11 miles from Rte. 2 to Dunbar Brook Picnic Area, this is the take out. Approximately 2 more miles (12.9 cumulative) to the small town of Monroe Bridge, take a right in the center of the town.
Follow the road down to the bridge crossing at the put-in (~1/4 mile)
Note: Boats can be unloaded here near the bridge but vehicles must be moved to the river side of the roadway upstream from the dam. Do not block either the gate above or below the dam as cars may be ticketed or towed. Drive slowly through town, respect private property, and avoid parking in No Parking areas.
Note: When driving to the put-in, it's much quicker to head over the mountains then drive up along the river; however be warned you may wear your brakes out.
Road Distances along The Dryway
Road access to the river isn't always simple, especially when the river is down and features aren't as readily recognized. For convienence the table below lists road mileage to several landmarks above various points on the river. Note that starting with Dunbar Brook Rapid through Dragon's Tooth you can climb down (or up) from the parking area above the take-out. Labyrinth is best reached by walking along the river from the take-out. All mileage is measured from the intersection of River and Depot Road in Monroe (up the hill from the dam at the put-in).
Old Put In
Surfing in Lower Play Zone
Riding the Waves in Rodeo
Raft in Judy's Hole
Split Hair Rock Upstream View
Main Surfing Wave in the Upper Play Zone
Sieve at Split Hair Rock
Sieve and Undercut at Split Hair
Sieve at top of Labyrinth
Sieve at bottom of Labyrinth
Terminator Hole in Labyrinth
Top 3/4's of Labyrinth
Dragon's Tooth Map
Factory Rapid Map
Lower Dryway Map
Upper Dryway Map
Hydrospeeding below Split Hair
How NOT to run Dragon's Tooth - Take 2
How NOT to run the death slot - Take 1
Dave rips up the Tooth
HELP, I'm STUCK
The clown is back
I might have one to share
Do you need another sticker?
And the winner is:
Up close and personal
Where's the boat?
Now that is FLOATATION!
Clean Death Slot run
My SuperGlue failed me
I'm having a good time
Really, I am trying to do this!
Lean = BAD
TopoDuo try two
Now what do we do?
TopoDuo Death Slot
What are you doing?
In the wave
Can I hang on?
Looks like fun
Darth Vader Kayaks?
False Tooth Rapid
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
Boaters from throughout the northeast will come together on June 24-26 in Charlemont, MA to celebrate the Deerfield River. The event is AW's biggest fundraiser in the northeast. The Deerfeild Fest will be held at the Charlemont Fairgrounds on June 25th from 3-11 pm and will include live music, vendors, beer, and a silent auction. This year, AW is joining forces with Zoar Outdoor to create a Deerfield Festival Weekend that will include Zoar's Demofest with free clinics and boat demos throughout the weekend from professional instructors and industry representatives.
In response to requests by American Whitewater, several affiliates, and other stakeholders, FERC directed Brookfield Renewable to study the impact of its hydropower operations on whitewater boating on the Deerfield River in western Massachusetts. Boating groups and our supporters are seeking to determine optimal whitewater boating flows from the Fife Brook Dam and whether changes in hydropower operations would enhance boating opportunities, access and navigation.
American Whitewater, along with other paddling groups and outfitters, filed comments with FERC responding to the Whitewater Boating Evaluation at Turners Falls on the Connecticut River. The study showed that there is strong demand for boating on this section of the Connecticut River if sufficient flows, scheduled releases, better access, and real-time information are provided. The groups filed the comments in order to provide additional information for the environmental review and to respond to the unsupported statements by FirstLight, the utility performing the study, claiming that there is little demand for boating at Turners Falls.
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.
The 21st Deerfield Riverfest will be held on July 11th in Charlemont (MA). The annual event celebrates whitewater boating on the Deerfield River that resulted from the historic settlement agreement signed by AW, FLOW, AMC and others which provides 106 whitewater release days on the Fife Brook section and 32 releases on the Dryway section of the Deerfield River. The festival is AW's biggest fundraiser in the northeast and supports our stewardship work in the region. See you at the Fest!
As a result of the imminent bridge replacement in Monroe Bridge, it will not be possible to cross the bridge to access the Dryway put-in on the Rowe side, either by vehicle or on foot, during this summer boating season. We are asking boaters, for this season, to use the old put-in that we used during the original construction of the dam.
Well it’s that time of the year again; time to start planning your trip to the Northeast’s largest whitewater river festival the AW Deerfield River Festival. The event focuses on bringing people to the area to enjoy a weekend of outdoor activities while showcasing whitewater paddlesports and raising funds and membership for American Whitewater. The main festival activities take place on Saturday July 31st afternoon/evening and provide entertainment for both paddlesport and non-paddlesport enthusiasts young and old. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
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