New Haven River (Lower)
|Stretch:||VT-116 to Hewitt Rd Bridge|
|Difficulty:||Class III (III+ to IV-)|
|Flows:||400 to 2,000+ cfs. USGS New Haven River gauge|
|Gradient:||85 fpm average|
|Put-in:||Access at VT-116|
|Take-out:||Access on South St at the Hewitt Rd Bridge|
|Shuttle:||2.1 miles, (5 minutes one-way)|
|Season:||Spring off snowmelt, summer and fall off of rain|
North East Road Trip 2021: Day 12 Afternoon
So I honestly expected a little more from this run to be honest. It is a regional go to for its difficulty. Mostly class III with one class IV. However, the rapids are of a non-descript nature that make for less fun in my mine. Just kind of continuous boogie. However, the last mile is rather run. From the bridge in Bristol the action gets started with what they call a class IV. Perhaps if you get adventurous and go off the center line it is more on the IV range, but even boat scouting we found a very straight forward line directly down the middle. So I would put it at IV- at the hardest. Downstream though, as you round the final corner near the Lumber Yard is a fantastic rapid that lasts for the final half mile to the car. It is just on the class III side of things, but has numerous fun boofs and holes to punch and was the highlight of the run for me for sure.
The run is short, so laps are the name of the game. So bring some extra cars or a driver and be prepared for the driving back and forth.
We had about 1,300 cfs which I thought was a perfectly fine flow. I can imagine at high flow it quickly is a continuous flooded river where a swim could be dangerous. It was continuous even at the medium flow we had.
So if you are looking for class III to III+, this will fit the bill nicely. For me, it just wasn't my favorite style of class III.
- Left Turn (II+ to III-). On the first left turn there was some nice waves and as I recall a small hole on the right, outside, of the turn.
- Highway 116 Rapid (III- to III). As you approach the highway 116 bridge the river gets a little steeper and filled with larger rocks. It is straightward, just follow the water and avoid the rocks/holes down the middle at the top. At the bottom it gets a little more congested and you can go right if you don't want to deal with the tighter hole dodging maneuvers in the middle.
Boogie (II to II+). A long section of mellow boogie continues below, it is more or less continuous.
- South St. Bridge (III to IV). The biggest rapid on the run can be see just upstream of the South St Bridge in town. At our flow it was just class III, we ran a stairstep drop down the middle moving left. The holes were small. It was a little blind and horizon-line-y but don't be intimidated by that as the drop was straight forward. However, I could imagine at higher flows when the exposed rocks are underwater and form big holes behind them it is a different beast. Lower would only make it easier I figure. Scout before putting on from the bridge.
- Lumberyard (III to III+). This was the best section in my mind. Over a quarter mile of just fun class III- to III moves which gives an overall feeling of IV-. I honestly would imagine this section gives beginners more trouble than the South St Bridge Rapid. We just followed the water, generally left of center. But what a nice section of whitewater. It ends right at take-out. Or you can continue down another 4 miles though it eases off quickly apparently.
Take-out: From Bristol, in downtown take South St south. Cross the river and take a peak at the "biggest" rapid. After 0.6 miles you will get to an access just before the turn onto the Hewitt Rd Bridge.
Put-in: Head back towards Bristol on South St. In town, turn right onto Main St. Go 1.6 miles. Just before the bridge over the river, there is an access on the left at the church, though don't use this during busy periods and be respectful with your behavior, if it is busy you can park on the right before the bridge.
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