Deerfield, Massachusetts, US
|Usual Difficulty||II(III) (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||25 fpm|
|DEERFIELD RIVER AT CHARLEMONT, MA|
|usgs-01168500||700 - 5000 cfs||II(III)||00h28m||215 cfs (too low)|
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.
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
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.
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.