Ridley Brook

The Stats

Location:
Duxbury
Length:
1.45 miles (from standard put-in)
Class:
V-
Flow Direction:
North

Starting Elevation:
710′

Ending Elevation:
350′

Average Gradient:
250′ / mile

Rapid Type:
Tight boulder gardens and bedrock ledges

Put in:
(-72.833587, 44.340254)

Take Out:
(-72.826721, 44.357793)

River Grade:  A

Draining the northeastern slopes of the state’s most iconic mountain, Ridley Brook is a quintessential Vermont steep creek.  It is roadside but beautiful, small, congested, and continuous.  The mile and a half contains sustained action featuring a handful of highlights, including the standout “Bathtub” and finishes with a beautiful mini-gorge.  Though it runs frequently, catching it at the right flow can be tricky, as it often passes from too low to too high and back again in hours.  Fortunately it is only 30 minutes from Burlington, Stowe or Montpelier, making it a go-to for after-work class V.

Jordan Vickers profile image Creek VT

Meet Your Local Guide:

 

 

Jordan Vickers

Jordan paddles more than just about anybody in Vermont.  A normal year he puts down 100+ laps on the New Haven ledges.  In a good spring he can manage to get on the water every single day for a month straight.  With a full time job, wife, two kids and a dog, it’s anybody’s guess as to how he does it.  If you figure out his secret, let us know. 

 

Homebase: Underhill, VT
Local Runs:  The Gihon | Browns River (Jericho)

 

Favorite VT River:  The New Haven Ledges
Favorite VT Rapid:  Take out rapid on the Big Branch
Favorite Run Outside VT:  Little White Salmon, WA

Put-In

Continue up Camels Hump Road until the first bridge across the creek.  Pull off 100 yrds above the bridge being sure to be well out of the way.  If the water is up you can go up the creek as far as you like to add on more mileage and fun.

Take-Out

Just east of the intersection of Camels Hump Road and River Rd you will find a small pull off.  Be sure to stay away from the no parking area / hydrant.  You can also paddle out to the Winooski and take out after the trestle rapid for a quick bit of some fun easy bigwater.

FLOW INFO

Online Gauge:
Ranch Brook At Ranch Camp, Near Stowe, VT

Flow Range:
70 – 175

Visual Gauge:
River Right Wall of River Road Bridge (not the railroad bridge)

**Warning,
frequent sediment movement here means this gauge occasionally changes, be sure to also look at the rapids on the drive up to see if things look reasonable to you

Flow Range:
-1: Minimum
-0.5: Low
0 to 0.5: Medium Low
1 to 1.5 : Medium
1.5 to 2: Medium High
2+: High

The Run

Description: J Vickers | Photos: S Gilbert

SAFETY NOTES:

The big three class V rapids on here (Bathtub, Backyard and Video Drop) all have significant hazards, be sure to scout and set safety. In particular the very bottom of Backyard Boating is commonly portaged via a last chance eddy on the right.

Cully Thomas runs a rapid on Ridley Brook Vermont Whitewater Kayaking
Cruising down some standard Ridley boulder action.

Ridley Brook which drains Camels Hump is a very special place.  The many boulder gardens mixed with bedrock drops culminating in a mini-gorge is what Vermont boating is all about.  Starting at the normal put in just above the first bridge you get right into it.  Sliding into the boogie and down to the bridge you come to the first rapid  “High and tight.”  The line is to run high on the river right rock then finish in the tight slot on the left.  Moving downstream through the boulder gardens often only one line is available and you may duck a few trees.

The road follows the river but I doubt you will be looking at it. Soon large midstream boulders dot the river and a fantastic move from right to center lands you back in the flow.  Continuous and mostly read and run class IV lasts for a while, be mindful of wood as the creek is tight and eddies are small.  When you see a bridge that is a private driveway, get out on river left to scout “Bathtub”, one of the best rapids in Vermont.  Challenging, technical and fun set safety or carry the road and put in below.  Two hazards of note are a small sieve river left after the entrance move and the large river left eddy after the second tier can be difficult to escape at high flows.

Cully Thomas runs a rapid on Ridley Brook Vermont Whitewater Kayaking
Culley lickin his chops for an awesome sliding boof.
Cully Thomas runs Backyard Boating rapid on Ridley Brook Vermont Whitewater Kayaking
Backyard Boating - about to catch the last-chance eddy.

Below Bathtub is a boulder garden that starts with a smear down the left and leads to an eddy across from a house.  This is the entrance to “Backyard Boating ” and it can be manky or smooth depending on your line.  Eddy out right immediately so you don’t unknowingly go into “Video drop” which lies just below a great boof.  Most portage from here out and around on the river right.  Video drop does get run but not too often.  There are multiple hazards including a sieve and nasty pocket on the left, but it certainly goes.

Below Video drop you are in the mini-gorge which starts with “The Spout.”  A fantastic boof or an unexpected beatering you decide.  This leads into a tight rapid on the left that is a bit of a white wash just avoid the lone boulder as not to piton.  The gorge then bends around to the right and ends in a large eddy.  One more long boulder garden that often changes with floods so just pick the best way with the most water and least amount of wood.

Cully Thomas runs the spout waterfall on Ridley Brook Vermont Whitewater Kayaking
Getting a splat-boof on the Spout.
Cully Thomas runs a rapid on Ridley Brook Vermont Whitewater Kayaking
Headed towards the exit of the lower gorge.

Nothing but boogie to the takeout or keep going on to the Winooski and down the Trestle Rapid.  Long continuous boulder gardens, large bedrock drops and a portage leave Ridley as a quintessential classic of Vermont whitewater in part why my son’s middle name is Ridley.




Pay attention to how fast it is rising or dropping as this creek is flashy.  At low to medium flows it is a great place for groups of mixed abilities as the general character of the boulder gardens are class IV with a few defined drops being class V and easy to portage.  At high flows the run is full on and I suggest taking out at Bathtub.  

 

Stepping Stones

Creek VT river guide coming soon
Not quite ready for Ridley? The New Haven Ledges are the ultimate training ground.
Guide to Flint Brook Vermont Whitewater Kayaking
If you like Ridley, then you're sure to enjoy Flint Brook
Creek VT river guide coming soon
Looking to step it up? The Middlebury River has the class V you're looking for.