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Difficulty II(III)
Length Miles
Gauge DEERFIELD RIVER AT CHARLEMONT, MA
Flow Range 700 - 5000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 16 minutes ago 1170 [CFS] ℹ️
Next Release
Reach Info Last Updated 04/08/2019 3:51 pm

River Description


The Fife Brook section of the Deerfield River is a popular Class II run in Northwestern Massachussetts. The Fife Brook section ends with the Class III "Zoar Gap" rapid, that can be easily walked on river right. 

Fife Brook is one of the best sections of learning river in the Northeast, if not beyond. It's generally shallow, with a mix of rapids, and good recovery pools or stretches. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: the gauge is far, far below this section. Two major tributaries, the Chickley and the Cold flow in below the gauge and the Gap. Therefore the gauge doesn't offer much to know if it's flowing, but offers Waterline offers a release schedule and an estimated flow, which is helpful especially during spring runoff when there is water flowing over the dam or they're releasing cause it's too high.

Look here for data: Deerfield Riv at Fife Brook Dam Florida MA. The following ranges are from waterline - NOT FROM THE USGS GAUGE. 700-1000 cfs is normal. 1000-1500 the river gets a bit bigger, but not much harder.

Above 2000 cfs, significant sections of rapids wash out, and new holes develop. Rapids are not significantly more challenging (i.e. still class II) until Zoar Gap. The Gap becomes a whole different beast, and above 2500cfs is very solid class IV big water - watch out for some nasty holes in Baby Gap that are backed up by huge eddies.

 

Rapid Descriptions

Put in

Class - Mile - 0
You can put in near the dam at the end of the road were there is a stairway leading down to the river, or skip the warm up and put in at the vehicle turnaround .1 miles downstream.

Hangover Helper

Class - II Mile - 0.1
Easy straightforward rapid. There is a large pool at the bottom to recover equipment.

Carbis Bend

Class - II Mile - 1
Good surfing at the bottom of the drop. Large eddy and rock beach downstream on river left.

Freight Train

Class - II Mile - 1.5
Nice surfing waves, good squirt lines at the bottom under the railroad bridge.

Pinball

Class - II Mile - 2.3
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
Also known as Rock Garden. Medium size boulders in this long rapid are great for eddy practice.

Island Rapid

Class - II Mile - 4
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

After a period of calm water with cliffs on river right, the river splits around an island. River right is shallow and not recommended, but paddleable. River left of the island is good fun, fast class II-, and then builds in intensity finishing with a few pourover and larger waves as it rejoins the river right flow. Big eddies on either side provide recovery and allow for ferry practice or play. 

Zoar Gap

Class - III Mile - 4.8

Below Island Rapid, there is fast moving shallow water until a sign marks "Portage, Danger Ahead" or something to that effect on river right. Stop here and scout or walk. To scout, walk along the road (beware of poision ivy growing into the road) until it becomes obvious you're at the gap. The gap is by far the most constricted passage on this section of the Deerfield. There is an upper "drop", with an easy tongue on river right, and a pourover river left. Ride the tongue down and either punch the two holes below, where the vast majority of the water flows, or cut hard right above the first hole to avoid them. There used to exist a far right sneak route, but Hurricane Irene took that out of the equation and now there are shallow rocks in its place. 
More advanced paddlers can catch the eddy below the pourover and then work river left, catching a boiling micro eddy just above the first hole. 
Below the Gap is the "Baby Gap" which is rock-dodging class II and is great for practing eddy catching, ferrying or attaining. 

Comments

default user thumbnail
BradR
|
14 years ago

Fife brook is just about a perfect beginner stream. A nice splashy class 2 rapid at the top. Then pool drop class two until you get to the zoar gap rapid, a nice solid textbook class three. From the road the run looks like its nothing but flatwater, but I was pleastantly surprised. The current moves fast and there is quite a bit of class 2 play the whole way down. Once again, great for a beginner to practice ferry's, surfing and peel outs. With the big rapid in sight of the takeout, makes for a great way to cap off the run!!
The water is pretty chilly as a result of the damn release. We were wearing long sleave tops in August.

Gage Descriptions

This gage is several miles below the Fife Brook section. The bubble takes about 3-4 hours to get to the gage. A typical release is 700 cfs and generally start between 9:30 am and noon. For current and the next days release information from Fife Brook dam go to the Waterline FlowCaste website. You can also call 1-800-452-1737 and at the prompt key in 255123 for the same web based information over the phone. Careful, though; they seem to change their collective mind at the drop of a helmet.

IMPORTANT NOTE: the gauge is far, far below this section. Two major tributaries, the Chickley and the Cold flow in below the gauge and the Gap. Therefore the gauge doesn't offer much to know if it's flowing, but offers Waterline offers a release schedule and an estimated flow, which is helpful especially during spring runoff when there is water flowing over the dam or they're releasing cause it's too high. 

Look here for data: Deerfield Riv at Fife Brook Dam Florida MA. The following ranges are from waterline - NOT FROM THE USGS GAUGE. 700-1000 cfs is normal. 1000-1500 the river gets a bit bigger, but not much harder. 

Above 2000 cfs, significant sections of rapids wash out, and new holes develop. Rapids are not significantly more challenging (i.e. still class II) until Zoar Gap. The Gap becomes a whole different beast, and above 2500cfs is very solid class IV big water - watch out for some nasty holes in Baby Gap that are backed up by huge eddies.

Directions Description


We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

Date Flow Result Factor  
1999-11-30 High Near Miss/Rescue High Water Read More
1998-06-24 Medium Near Miss/Rescue Other Read More

Alerts

News

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Share the Love at Deerfield Festival Weekend - June 24-26 (MA)

5/24/2016
Robert Nasdor

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.

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Deerfield River (MA) Flow Studies to Explore New & Improved Boating Opportunity

12/6/2015
Robert Nasdor

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.

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AW Responds To Connecticut River Boating Study (MA)

11/18/2015
Robert Nasdor

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.

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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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Annual Deerfield Riverfest Planned for July 11th

5/29/2015
Robert Nasdor

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!

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Deerfield River (MA) Hydro Relicensing: Building on Past Success

3/24/2015
Robert Nasdor

Twenty years after reaching a historic settlement agreement on the Deerfield River hydropower relicensing that has transformed northeast paddling opportunities, we began another relicensing process this spring that will likely result in improvement in flows, access and facilities for boaters in the region.
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AW Working to Ensure Access to Deerfield River

8/22/2012
Alan Panebaker

American Whitewater is working with local outfitters to ensure a utility does not shut off access to one of the Northeast's most popular beginner/intermediate rivers.

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Plans for Deerfield River (MA) Pipeline and Withdrawal Cancelled

10/17/2007
Kevin Colburn

A recent proposal to pipe water from the Deerfield River's Somerset Reservoir for snow-making has been abandoned based on significant concerns regarding the impacts of the project on the Deerfield River and the surrounding lands.   AW and our partners in New England have participated in the decision making process for the past six months.  A new proposal is now being floated.  
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Skip Morris

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Matt Muir

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Mark Lacroix

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Jeff Paine

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Jackson Ennis

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Thomas O'Keefe

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Bob Nasdor

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Alex Barham

Revisions

Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1195563 06/25/09 Skip Morris
1197860 06/22/10 Matt Muir Corrected takeout coords; added abstract.
1190476 08/12/08 n/a n/a
1195532 06/23/09 Skip Morris
1195533 06/23/09 Skip Morris
1195546 06/23/09 Skip Morris
1195534 06/23/09 Skip Morris
1195545 06/23/09 Skip Morris
1195662 07/21/09 Skip Morris
1197878 06/28/10 Skip Morris
1200242 06/07/11 Mark Lacroix Change release dates
1201392 06/11/12 Jeff Paine Removed outdated info in description
1209184 04/09/18 Jackson Ennis updated rapid descriptions
1207135 01/05/17 Thomas O'Keefe map fixed
1209328 04/27/18 Jackson Ennis updated info/flows for high water
1211874 04/08/19 Bob Nasdor updated description
1209690 05/23/18 Alex Barham Name and Location