As spring thaws the hillsides, the creeks and rivers rise, creating a playground for whitewater paddlers. In addition to the stash of local paddling spots, the northeast’s numerous dams on waterways also create conditions for paddling as excess water is released.
For paddlers willing to venture a little further afield, here are some scheduled releases for whitewater paddling in Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New York’s Adirondack region. Some are flood control dams operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and others are working hydropower plants. For latest information on events, conditions and discussion around paddling in our region, paddlers should be sure to check American Whitewater, the Northeast Paddlers Messaging Board and the Vermont Paddlers Club. We’ll post the latest updates on whitewater conditions in Vermont as well at vtsports.com.
This spring, paddlers should keep an eye out for releases at popular spots in Vermont, including the Missisquoi River at Sheldon Springs and the Green River in Wolcott. Both have releases when water levels are sufficiently high. Operators at both dams have not yet confirmed any releases this spring, but as more snow melts, reservoirs will rapidly fill. Paddlers should check with dam operators or with the Vermont Paddlers Club for updates on scheduled releases.
The West River’s Ball Mountain Dam at Jamaica State Park In Jamaica, Vt. previously had a spring release, but participation in a yearly spring salmon release program and construction of a hydro power facility last spring caused the dam’s operators to delay releases until September, when the eight-mile stretch from the Ball Mountain Dam to the backwater of Townshend Lake has class II to IV rapids with 1 to 2-foot drops, attracting outfitters and local paddlers from around the northeast. This year’s release at the Ball Mountain Dam is scheduled for Sept. 24 – 25.
The Fife Brook Dam in Florida, Mass. has 105 releases scheduled from spring to October. Releases are from 9:30 a.m. and noon with a flow of at least 700 cubic feet per second, for a three-hour duration.
Releases are scheduled for April 2, 10, 13 – 17, 20 – 24, 27 – 29; on May 7 – 8, 13 – 15, 18 – 22, 25 – 29 and June 11 – 12, 16 – 19, 22 – 26, 29 – 30.
A hydroelectric dam in Monroe, Mass. has 32 scheduled releases until October. Friday releases are for four hours beginning at 11 a.m.; Saturday releases last five hours and begin at 10 a.m.; Sunday releases are four hours beginning at 10 a.m. Flows alternate between 900, 1000, and 1100 cubic feet per second.
Releases are scheduled on May 28 – 29 and June 12, 18, 19, 24 – 26
The Birch Hill Dam in Royalston, Mass. will drain at a rate of 300 cubic feet per second starting 9 p.m. on April 9 and flow until the reservoir is depleted. This release coincides with 53rd Athol-Orange River Rat Race.
The Knightville and Littleville dams in Huntington, Mass. have releases scheduled for April 16-17. The Knightville Dam will flow at 900 cubic feet per second while the Littleville Dam will flow at 700 cubic feet, both starting at 6 a.m. The release coincides with the 63nd Annual Westfield River Races.
The manmade Brimfield Lake in Fiskdale, Mass. will be drained at a rate of 350 cubic feet per second starting at 5 a.m. on April 24 until water is depleted. The release also coincides with the Sturbridge Lions Club East All American River Race.
Otter Brook, N.H.
Located in southwestern New Hampshire near Keene, the Otter Brook flood control dam has releases scheduled for April 30 and May 1 starting at 9 a.m. until the water is depleted, flowing at 300 cubic feet per second. Be there for the American Canoe Association’s New Hampshire Whitewater Championship.
Blackwater River, N.H.
The Blackwater Dam in Webster, N.H. has a release from April 23 – 24, starting at noon on Friday and flowing at 650 cubic feet per second until water is depleted.
Ashuelot River, N.H.
The Surry Mountain Dam in Surry, N.H. will release 275 cubic feet per second as part of its spring drawdown starting at 5 a.m. on May 7. Canoeists will be attracted to this release for the Ashuelot Canoe Race
Dead River, Maine
Regulating the flows of the Dead River into the Kennebec River, the Long Falls Dam at Flagstaff Lake in the Dead River Township has releases on May 7 and 14 at 7,000 cubic feet per second, May 29 at 5,500 cubic feet per second and May 30 at 1,300 cubic feet per second.
ADIRONDACKS, NEW YORK
In the Adirondack State Park in New York paddlers and guiding services look forward to paddling on the Black, Moose and Hudson Rivers as well as other smaller creeks in the High Peaks region. On the southern portion of the Moose River near Lyons Falls, paddlers take advantage of class four and five rapids created by dam releases April 17 and 24 and on Saturdays and Sundays through May. The Lake Abanakee Dam on the Indian River sees releases on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Memorial day, Labor Day and Columbus Day have releases as well. The Saranac River, which flows from Saranac Lake to Lake Champlain, has a stretch of moderate class 2 rapids known as “Permanent Rapids,” which is a predictable and popular stretch of whitewater.