The North Branch Winooski… If you know, then you know.
I fell in love with this river on a random day while my wife and I were looking for housing for our big move to VT back in 2003. We were looking at various options all over Central VT from Warren to Hyde Park and Waterbury to Barre. Getting from one rental to the next we crisscrossed all over Washington and Lamoille Counties. While scrambling to get to a showing in Morrisville from one in Montpelier, I decided to take the route less traveled to avoid the Route 100 shitshow. It was early may and it was wet so most rivers in the are had some water in them. Up Route 12 we went and along the North Branch of the Winooski. It looked like an amusement park of drops and cascades that I was craning my neck to see as we were whizzing along to our appointment. I know I had to get back to this river to get a better look at the river closer once we made our move to VT. What I didn’t know was at some point, 2 years later, we would buy our current home 15 minutes from the take-out.
Take note of your surroundings once you get parked. Its one of the few places that you are in true VT wilderness. No power lines, no cell service, no people… You are in an area that the Vermont Land Trust, Vermont River Conservancy and the State of VT have locked down in conservation for perpetuity.
You get to slip into the river now – go ahead. On the water, you realize its small, micro. The banks are no further than 15 feet apart. The pool you are in should be moving some or you are in for a bumpy ride. It should also be deep enough to rip off a few practice roles. Again, if not its going to be a bumpy ride.
You have about 300 yards and a brook comes in on the right and adds about another 1/3 of flow. You can see where the old Cabin and stone chimney stands as well. From this point there are number of warm up rapids that are all read and run and in the class II variety.
After a while you will come to a large eddy on your right where the water stacks up before making a hard left zig and then immediate zag right. This is the eddy at the top of the Class III+Broken Falls. It’s a double drop of sorts with a ledge into a pool and then a 6 foot drop off the middle. Make sure you are middle and get a late boof. There are pieces of the falls that have broken off and lay under the surface to both sides of the middle line.