The Branch (of the Schroon)
|Stretch:||Above Palmer Pond|
|Difficulty:||Class IV to V|
|Distance:||2.6 miles (plus 0.4 on the lake)|
|Flows:||No gauge, eye ball Blue Ridge Falls from the road.|
|Gradient:||137 fpm average|
|Put-in:||Along Blue Ridge Rd via Private Property, at Roger Adams Rapid|
|Take-out:||Palmer Pond along Blue Rdge Rd|
|Shuttle:||2.5 miles, (3 minutes one-way)|
|Season:||Spring off snowmelt, summer and fall off of rain|
|Featured in Video A Wet State #158|
North East Road Trip 2021: Day 13 Afternoon
The day before two different people had said "you should do the branch, it is high today, and will be in tomorrow." One was our friend Culley, another was someone we met at the New Haven. So that seems like a resounding endorsement for the run! Some googling showed some pictures which from a distance it is hard to tell just how big the rapids are. Some write ups call it IV to V, others call it IV+. I was hoping it was not going to be high, as the ledgy nature of the rapids for sure looks like it could have class V bite at higher flows. And we were tired after our first boating trip since the summer before Aster was born, and the fact we already did the West Branch of the Ausable earlier this day.
So arriving at takeout and began to drive up the river. You catch a glimpse through the woods of Mesh Fence. "Oh that looks steep," A bit later you get to a turn out and a clear shot of Blue Ridge Falls. "Oh, that looks fun! And not high!" It actually turns out we had pretty low flow. Like the bigger drops were all totally fine, but there were a few in between sections which were scrappy. And on that note, other than the big drops it is class II at best. So if you aren't motivated to run the big drops, there really is no reason to come here.
I am sure at higher flows the run gets more teeth. At low flow it was all super straight forward and the holes packed minimal punch. I would put it in the class IV and IV+ category. But I can certainly see at high flow it getting more umph and getting more difficult. Especially Blue Ridge Falls and Cable Car.
My take away from the day was that it was a lot of fun. I thought that the big drops were super classic. I only wish the inbetween scrappy stuff was less plentiful, and less scrappy. I really don't have any clue as to how to correlate if this one is running. I posted on the "New York Whitewater Paddlers" page to inquire and verify that it was high the day prior and some folks responded, so you could try that.
- Roger Adams (IV+). This rapid has two parts. The bedrock ledges entrance and the rapid runout. The entrance was a three part ledge drop. We boofed the right side at the top over a ledge hole. We then worked hard left and s-turned to the exit boof on the far left. The far right might go with much more water but had all sorts of rocks in wrong places at the low water. The rapid below goes for maybe 100 yards. It was surprisingly bigger than it looked from between the two rapids where we took pictures of. After the steepest part (run generally down the center) it backs off and you see a horizon which is a slopping drop into a powerful hole. Far right and far left have nice shoulders around the hole. A small pool exists to collect the pieces.
- Boogie (II). The boogie on this run is really meh. Class I to II, and at low water was extremely scrappy at times.
- Blue Ridge Falls (IV+ to V). At our flow I would give this a hard IV+. But at higher flow as the holes get more power, I would estimate it being a class V. This drop can be easily viewed from the turnout on the road as you drive shuttle, though the entrance is hard to see from there. Diane hoped out on the left, I got out on the right, and I think the right was the better scout. The entrance starts around the corner and consisted of two ramping slides into holes. We ran far right, running down a knob to boof the small hole below at the top, and then down the center driving far right to catch an eddy just above the main event. From there, we ferried into the middle to run a stairstep set of small ledges which then led us to the main convergence of flow and a good size hole on the right wall at the bottom of the main top drop. You can catch eddies left or right below to break up the main drops. The exit is usually run in the second channel from the left shore where a slopping boof of maybe 8 feet exists. At our flow the boof was reconnecting and had a small rock in the landing. So instead, we ran the left side of the main channel which I think would be a no go at higher flows. But for us, the hole after the first drop was strong but punchable, and the bottom hole was not a problem as long as you weren't sideways.
- Cable Car (IV). Similar to Roger Adams, the runout of Blue Ridge Falls is a rapid that had more punch then it appeared it would from where we took pics of Blue Ridge. It was read and run but was steeper than it appears.
- Boogie (I to II). More boogie...
- Mesh Fence (IV- to IV). I bet more water would open up a left line. At our low flow we went with the bulk of the water down the right which still had some junk, scout right. The entrance should be run erroring right in the right channel as the left has a piton rock. The river then makes a 90 degree left turn and drops over a sticky ledge, boof it!. The runout is then just boogie class III-.
- Snarly (IV to IV+). A fun multi tiered drop that ends in junk as it enters the lake. We entered far right and slide down along the wall. This wasn't a great angle though for the hole in the middle that we had to boof, at high flows I think you would likely want to enter center to line up this hole better. Below, the river slid right into a big curler, or slide center towards a kicker. We went center and drove left to avoid the kicker. Below the river gets junky down to the lake, far left was the best line our day, but I can imagine this exit changes often.
- And so begins the short lake paddle.
Take-out: Whichever way you are traveling on US-87, look for exit 29 (near the small town of North Hudson) and go west onto Blue Ridge Rd. Immediately you will see Palmer Pond, park anywhere that looks good along that pond.
Put-in: Continue on Blue Ridge Rd for 2.5 miles, just after you pass Niagara Brook (if you have google up the stream is present) look for a grassy, gated road on the left. People walk down this road to access the river. It is marked as no trespassing, apparently people are usually cool as long as it isn't hunting or fishing season. Be respectful. If you see anyone and they ask you to figure something else out, do it. Don't spoil it for all kayakers. The downside is there aren't a whole lot of options that aren't private property.
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