Trip OverviewBeautiful day for our first 'class I-II' attempt. USGS reported 4.2 ft of water, which translated to about 1-2 foot where we were. Put in at the Rt 107 bridge, downtown Bethel. Takeout was planned for just upriver of Sharon, Vt, about 11 miles by road, felt about the same by water. Landmark for takeout on the road is the Riverbend Antique Shop, also a lumberyard and gravel pit just down Rt. 14. You can see the river from the pulloff (for takeout) and if you don't park under the trees you can see your vehicle from the water. We shuttled ourselves with a Cherokee and Jeep Wrangler.
Books list a drop at old dam about a mile down, we didn't realize where it was until I saw it underneath me. No drop with that much water-any less and you may bump. Good ripples in many spots, nothing more than 100 foot or so, then good running water to coast in. Watch the curves-some good hairpin turns in the river and with low water you have to pick your channel to avoid bottoming out. Some trees fallen in around the riveredge, steer clear. Beautiful views of the countryside, and you go under Rt 89 and the railroad several times. Many times you have a choice to go around small islands-with low water watch and see where the most water is going and follow it.
Worst 'white water' and class II is at several local swimming holes, and always on a right hand bend. Also just under a bridge under construction in Royalton. Go right into the worst of it-or you bottom out. (I chickened out on one, and got pulled aside on another, while my wife and son went right for it and had a blast) For beginners, they were whooping it up and had a good ride while I had to get out and pull my yak over gravel and get back in. Next time I go for it! In high water, these areas go to class III because of the larger rocks that are then under water. Watch carefully around all bends, wherever you see ripples, there are rocks (at 4.2 - 4.5 foot) are only 1 or 2 inches below the surface, the size of small cars-and they don't leave a ripple!
Great areas for tubing also. Took us from 2 pm to 5 pm to do the trip. Can't wait to go again! Below 3.5' I would probably plan on pulling it over some shallow areas-but we canoed this same stretch 3 years ago and I know the water was somewhere around 3' and we still had fun. I would rate this an excellent river for a good afternoon for beginners. No place that you couldn't just pull to the side and walk around something-and if you did swamp no problem.
Accommodations:Many, many motels and campgrounds from White River Junction all the way up and everywhere around the region.
Directions:Take 93 north or south in Vermont to the junction of 89 (White River, VT) and get off at exit 2. Follow signs to Route 14, head north until you get right into Bethel (unless you want to drop off a shuttle vehicle-then watch for Sandy's Snack bar, great ice cream, just up the road a few miles watch for the Riverbend Antique Shop, or the Joseph Smith (Mormon) Memorial, the parking area is on your left, right on the river. Most of the river can be seen from the road all the way up.
- Trip Duration: Day Trip
- Skill Level: Intermediate
- Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)