The Gihon River

The Stats

3.60 miles
IV (1 @ V)
Flow Direction:

Starting Elevation:

Ending Elevation:

Average Gradient:
67′ / mile

Rapid Type:
Ledges & Slides

Put in:
(-72.62289, 44.63414)

Take Out:
(-72.67166, 44.63519)

River Grade:  A


The Gihon River is a staple in the Northern VT creek boaters diet.  It combines a large and relatively slow draining watershed with two sections of whitewater each with their own unique character.  The rapids are mainly class IV save for two slightly more challenging options, one being a class V.  Unfortunately these two fun sections are separated by approximately a mile of flatwater.  If it weren’t for this minor annoyance this run would likely be considered a Vermont classic.

Jordan Vickers profile image Creek VT

Meet Your Local Guide:



Jordan Vickers


The Gihon is a just a short drive north from Jordan’s home.  As such you can often find him there, sneaking in a weekend morning run before breakfast with the family, or chasing daylight after a day of work.


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


Find your way to Johnson, VT.  Following route 15 to the eastern edge of town look for 100C heading north.  Take this road for approximately a half mile until you come to the covered bridge on the left.  This is the takeout.  To get the the lower put-in, follow 100C up river until you come to Sinclair Rd on the right (just before you cross the river).  Take Sinclair for 1/4 mile and park across from the sugarhouse.  To reach the upper put-in, skip past Sinclair road and follow 100C for a few miles until you come to the top of a long hill where you will see Whitcomb Island Road on the right.  Take Whitcomb Island for another couple of miles until you cross the river where it is flat.  This put in is on the left immediately after the bridge. 


Look for the small pull off on river left of the bridge.  Careful not to block the fire hydrant.


Look for the small pull off on river left of the covered bridge.  Take out is downstream around the corner after the final ledge.


Online Gauge:
Lamoille River @ Johnson

Flow Range:
1300 – 2500


Visual Gauge:
River Right Abutment Of Powerhouse Covered Bridge
(Takeout Bridge)


Flow Range:
1: Minimum
1.5: Low
2 : Medium Low
2.5: Medium
3: Medium High
3.5+: High

The Run

Description: J Vickers | Photos: S Gilbert

Safety notes: 

At levels above 3 on the gauge the hole at the bottom of the dam gets very retentive and can hold you even out of your boat.  Look before you leap.

Simone Orlandi runs the dam on the Gihon River Vermont Whitewater Kayaking
The dam @ 1.75 on the painted gauge.

The Gihon is a mainstay for northern Vermont boaters. It has a long snowmelt season and is often the place to go when other rivers are dropping out. There are two sections of whitewater separated by a few miles of moving flatwater. The upper Gihon begins with a short paddle to the twenty five foot dam drop. You want to be about two boat widths to the left of the center pillar and check for wood before dropping over. It has a nice transition at the bottom and is super fun! Some boogie leads to an island drop with an awesome five foot boof on the right channel. Next up is “Balls to the Wall” which has a few holes in the lead in and you want to ride up on the right wall then down the tongue.

A couple more drops that can be run in a variety of places lead to the top of the class V drop known as “Mustang.” Get out and scout river right. The typical line is to hit the boof in the lead in moving right into a short pool then over the ledge into the six foot finale. Be sure to be in the right channel as the left is undercut and often choked with wood – this should be obvious. (Editors note: if you don’t like the looks of Mustang, there is a great seal-launch just downstream of the final drop).  After Mustang a few miles of flatwater brings you to the start of the lower.

Simone Orlandi runs Mustang on the Gihon River Vermont Whitewater Kayaking
Mustang @ 1.75 on the painted guage
Simone Orlandi runs Bedhead on the Gihon River Vermont Whitewater Kayaking
Bedhead @ 1.75 on the painted guage.

Bedhead is the first drop in the lower and also the most difficult. It is a two tiered drop that is often run by starting in the eddy on the right, peeling out high to river left boofing the first tier and staying left to finish the second tier. Next up is a ledge that has multiple lines but is typically run far right. A drop named “Spinach” right above the 100c bridge is shallow so choose your route wisely. Some boogie and moving water and you will arrive at “Pin Cushion.” The line is to drive up and over the boiling feature that looks like the top of a pin. It is surprisingly soft. Some more boogie leads to “Powerhouse” the drop above the covered bridge near the take out. At low flows the typical move is to be left of center as it starts and look for a ramp into a boof flake on the left. Under the bridge and around the corner is the last drop that is more of a slide than a falls. Take out here on river right.

Stepping Stones

Creek VT river guide coming soon
Not quite ready for the Gihon? The North Branch of the Lamoille is a great place hone skills.
North Branch of the Winooski Guide Vermont Whitewater Kayaking
If you like the Gihon, then you're sure to enjoy the North Branch of the Winooski
Ridley Brook guide Vermont Whitewater Kayaking
Looking to step it up? Ridley Brook will satisfy those looking for more of a challenge.