Here’s Where to Find Epic Vermont Whitewater

Where’s the Whitewater?

Paddling season is here! Vermont’s streams and rivers are swollen with snowmelt and whitewater paddlers will soon be flocking to the state to catch dam releases, big races and great paddling. If you want to watch some of the northeast’s best paddlers in action—or jump in yourself—here’s where to do it:

New Haven Ledges Race | Bristol, April 13

Celebrate the 11th anniversary of the Ledges race, which began as an official way to earn bragging rights among friends. The classic run gives you 1.3 miles of boulder gardens, slides, waterfalls and class IV whitewater running alongside Lincoln Road. Kayakers navigate a 15-foot drop called “The Toaster,” then slap a nearby buoy to stop the clock.

Riverfest | Wells River, Newbury, April 18-21

Dartmouth College’s Ledyard Canoe Club hosts a weekend of events, including the Mascoma Slalom (the oldest consecutively run slalom event in the country) and the Wells River Rumble (a mass-start, one-mile, down-river race that includes a class IV rapid). ledyardcanoeclub.or

RASTA’s DisasTour VIII | Rochester, April 27

Celebrate community and resilience with this 19K pedal, 8K paddle and 11K run through Rochester, Hancock and Granville. Do all three legs or compete as part of a relay team.

Blackwater Slalom | Dover, New Hampshire, April 28

Race through suspended gates through class II and higher rapids on the Blackwater River in N.H. Part of the New England Slalom Series. Don’t miss the townwide Roast Pork Dinner on Saturday night.

Otter Brook Canoe and Kayak Race | Roxbury, New Hampshire, May 5

A 5-mile class III race from the base of the dam on Otter Brook to the Route 12 bridge, just south of Keene, N.H. Otter Brook is a narrow, twisty stream with lots of rocks to maneuver around.

Fiddlehead Slalom | Winooski River, Montpelier, May 12

Slalom through suspended gates on the Winooski River’s class II and higher rapids in this event, which is part of the New England Slalom Series. Get a feel for the course by helping to hang gates from wires above the river the day before the race.

Vermont Paddlers’ Club Whitewater Novice Clinic | Waterbury, June 1-2

This two-day clinic will introduce beginning paddlers to the basics of boat handling, river reading and driving a boat through moving water.

Onion River Race and Ramble | Winooski, Bolton, June 2

Canoe or kayak through the Greens in Vermont’s largest river race, starting at Bolton and heading down the Winooski River.

Winni River Days & Winni Slalom | Franklin, New Hampshire, June 22-24

Catch live music, whitewater clinics, beer, free morning yoga, food plus camping right in town and two days of whitewater races. Don’t miss the Winni Slalom on Saturday, a race through suspended slalom gates and class II rapids on the Winnipesaukee River. or

BrattlePaddle Canoe & Kayak Races | Brattleboro, June 30

This race, which begins in Brattleboro, Vt., takes place in the West and Connecticut Rivers.  Race 9 miles or take a 3.5-mile leisurely paddle on a canoe, kayak or SUP on a recreational route.

Vermont Paddlers’ Club Class II Clinics | Deerfield River, Mass.

Build on the strokes and skills gained in the novice clinic and try your hand at some class II rapids on the Deerfield River. Suitable for anyone with at least two days of whitewater instruction.


West River | Jamaica State Park, Jamaica, Vt.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers schedules regular controlled water releases from the Ball Mountain Dam. This year, there will be two releases: on May 4 and September 21-22, paddlers can enjoy class II-IV rapids on the West River.

Deerfield River | #5 Station Dam, Monroe, Mass.

About a mile south of the Vermont-Mass border, the Deerfield flows between 900 cfs and 2,000 cfs. Releases are scheduled for May 26-27, June 10, 16-17, 24 and 29-30.

Fife Brook | North Adams, Mass.

The Deerfield’s Fife Book section ranges from 700 cfs to 2000 cfs, at which point it becomes class III-IV. Scheduled releases are: April 6, 10-12, 14, 17-21 & 24-28; May 11-12, 18-19, 22-26, 29-31; June 8-9, 15-16, 19-23, 26-30 (9 a.m. start on June 29, 4 hour release); July 4-7, 11-14, 17-21, 24-28, 31; August 1-4, 8-11, 15-18, 22-25, 29-31; September 1-2, 4-8, 11-15, 25-29; October 2-6, 9-13. Releases take place from 9:30 a.m.-12 p.m.

Featured Photo courtesy Ryan Mooney.

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