At the end of the Wilderness Camp road you will find Wilderness Camps (imagine that). Stop at the check in point, the website says boaters will be charged for use of the road and put in but I have never been, just buy a muffin or cookie from them and they are usually happy. If you hike about 150 yards up river from where the people at the check in tell you to park you can catch a small warmup rapid. If you put on in Kingfield appartently there is one more rapid you can catch called "Rams Head". Apparently this is an excellent surf spot but I have never thought all the extra flat water was worth the play.
The heaters initially lead into a small gorge where tricky boil lines can throw you for a loop. At extremely high waters (above 20,000cfs) the water can pulse 4 or 6 feet up and down the walls. Either side of the island on this section is passable. There is a small wave that can be surfed near the top of the river left side of the island. Once the gorge opens up the challenging part of the heaters begins. Because the river can be run at such a variance of levels it is difficult to say which line is the easiest. Typically if you stay right to center right things are safe but there are fun lines all over. You can get a real bird's eye view of everything from the scenic outlook on the Wilderness Camp road.
Upper Gordon is certainly the most intimidating rapid at any level. It is essentially a class 3-4 drop into a huge wave/hole. To the river right is typically a nasty pour over and the left can consist of many unpleasant things at most levels. Run center right until you pass the worst the left has to offer then start making your way river left. If done right you can slip into the huge eddy on the left after the main falls. This is deceivingly difficult to do. Many choose to hit the wave instead for a more intense ride, there is little worry of recirculation and the river is plenty deep at most levels. If catch the left hand eddy, surf the last wave and don't forget to look upriver at the falls you just conquered. This section is easily scouted from the Wilderness Camp road.
This rapid is easily scoutable from the Wilderness Camp road also. There is a big angle hole on the right that is easily avoidable and a nasty hole center left at the end when the river is above 7000cfs. There is an excellent play spot right next to the island on river left. Around 3000cfs its a fun little surf hole but around 8000 its a fast and bouncy wave. The problem is as the water gets high the eddy gets harder to catch and around 7000 cfs the hole behind it becomes a problem especially if you miss the eddy. The wave improves with more water but so do the consequences. This location can be used as a take out if you don't want to float the next 4 miles into town assuming the Wilderness gate is open.
According to "Appalachian Whitewater" Volume III minimum runable level is 300 cfs.
Permits are not required for this reach.
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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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