Mad River (Lower)
|Stretch:||Moretown Common Rd to Winooski River Access|
|Difficulty:||Class II+ to III (III to IV)|
|Flows:||300 to ~2,000 cfs. USGS Mad River in Moretown gauge|
|Gradient:||40 fpm average from mile 1.0 to 1.4|
|Put-in:||Trail off of Moretown Common Rd|
|Take-out:||Winooski River Access on US-2|
|Shuttle:||3.9 miles, (10 minutes one-way)|
|Season:||Spring of snowmelt, summer and fall off of rain|
North East Road Trip 2021: Day 9 Morning
With rain still one day away, the only game in town was the local Mad River. This normally class III with one IV I am told. But we had 295, with AW's cutoff being 300 cfs. Our local friends whose house we were camping at said the river channelized well and it would still be worthwhile though. So we made the plan to boat and to get Diane's mom out on the water.
The Mad River is the inspiration for the famous canoe company, Mad River Canoes, so with that type of inspiration you know it must be a pretty cool river and valley right?
The run starts off right below a dam and goes immediately into some nice gorged out action before opening up to a long pool where at these low flows you had to be careful to stay in some deep water. As you exited the pool, you got to the biggest rapid of the run. At normal flows you boof down a double drop in the left channel to avoid the 90 degree turn and 4 foot drop into a sticky horseshoe hole. At these low flows though the boof was dry and the right line was sweet. We carried back up and ran a couple of laps it was so good. Below, you stay in a gorge more or less and have some nice maze rapids and a few small holes to punch before you hit the confluence with the Winooski and the quick flat water paddle down to take out. Each lap takes less than an hour, so lapping is the name of the game here.
I found this run to be better than expected. The river channelized great and even though it was very low, and easy for us, I thought it was entertaining and can see why it is a classic in the state for novices.
After our laps, we went up for a quick lap on a less clean and much shorter section of the Mad in Moretown. Also, if you want class I, you can boat from Warren to above Moretown, or for class IV to V, you can boat the Uber Mad which is above Warren but requires flood conditions and only runs a few times a year.
- Put-in Gorge (II to II+). The put-in drops you right into this fun rapid. It was just down the middle but was nice to get some strokes before the first bigger rapid.
- Double Drop (III- to III). You can sneak it right. The challenge lies in that running middle puts you through a stronger than expected curler which really sunk both Diane and I and almost flipped us. It did not look that powerful! The exit drop is straight forward down the middle moving back right.
Bridge Drop (II+). Immediately downstream, and under the bridge, is a little ledge that was slightly tricky in that the obvious ramp down the left had a rock that it led to. So moving back to the right on the ramp was the name of the game.
Flats: A short section of open flat water leads to the next rapid.
- Horseshoe Falls (III to IV). I think this one is harder at lower flow as we could not do the straight forward boof and avoid the sharp corner and ledge into the cauldron below. Normally you run a two step easy boof in the center. For us, we ran the right channel which makes a 90 degree turn as it drops over a 4-foot ledge into a pocketed hole. Make sure to boof it! We then got out on the left and walked up for laps!
Small Ledge (II+). Immediately below the falls the river enters a small gorge which leads to this river wide ledge that is small and easy to run anywhere.
- Mill Rapid (II to III). I could see this being harder at higher flows as the river is pretty right and there were good sized rocks. For us it was a mellow little rapid between the rocks and then along the shore of the house that from downstream you can tell is a converted mill or something as it has water tubes and old brickwork.
- Maze (II+). At the next nice house is a fun rapid that had a bunch of spots for stern squirts as the water moved between and around large mounds of bedrock. We started left and finished right.
- Winooski Confluence. The bigger river enters on the right, it is dammed so it may not have any water. Flat water to take-out.
Take-out: In the town of Middlesex, head west on US-2 for 1.5 miles. 100 yards after you cross the Winooski look for the River Access area on your right. It is a small parking area with a turnout loop.
Put-in: Head back east on US-2 for 1.5 miles. Turn eight onto VT-100B and follow for 2.0 miles. Just before the bridge over the river, turn left onto the dirt (good) Moretown Common Rd. In 0.3 miles there is a wide spot with enough room for two or three cars to park and a trail down to the river just below the dam.
HTML Comment Box is loading comments...