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Upper Mill Brook (West Bolton)

Sunday Jun 3, 2007
Kayak: Chris Weed
Organizer: Chris Weed
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: too low
Gauge (cfs): 25
Author: Chris Weed


On the way home from the safety boating at the novice clinic I took a detour down Browns Trace and Nashville Road to look at the above-mentioned reach of Mill Brook. I went to the end of Nashville Road (past the golf course entrance), where a couple of unpaved town roads split off of it.

One road heads west (north?) into the federal reservation that contains the Ethan Allen Firing Range (Jericho-Underhill). Upper Mill Brook marks the boundary of this property; the road crosses it (one-lane bridge).

The other road heads up into the hills overlooking West Bolton from the northeast. The brook along this road is steep. It contains some nice class 3-4 ledge drops, punctuated by elbow-breaking gnar. The accessible upper end of this section is a lovely little swimming hole nestled in a ravine; it was partially filled with stones and gravel by a flood event in the early 90s, according to local (35-year) resident I spoke to there. She also said that the brook is spring-fed and runs all summer, but seems to respond to local rainfall only if it is very heavy (2+ inches?). Above the swimming hole the brook is beautiful but constricted and choked with boulders and wood, narrowing into a tight, unrunnable gorge. It may open up again higher up; I didn't explore beyond the upper gorge. The road appears to continue well beyond the swimming hole; I'm not sure how far.

There is another gorge 2-300 (?) yards below the swimming hole; which inspires a comparison to a miniature Huntington Gorge. The brook opens up again after this, and appears to be runnable (and hikeable) down to the bridge into the federal reservation.

From just above the bridge the creek is definitely runnable; at a runnable level this would begin about 2 miles of class 2-3 continuous whitewater which is initially somewhat technical. The section gets progressively easier, and eventually crosses under Nashville Road; this might be the only viable takeout, but I didn't confirm this. Mill Brook meanders for a few miles through marshy bottomland, before the gradient picks up again on the way to the Winooski.

In summary the sections I scouted are either much more difficult than the more popular Nashville Road to Route 117 segment, or easier but considerably less interesting. That said, they run through beautiful wooded land, and are worth consideration when the popular class 3-4 section is running high.

WARNING: There are several strainers, some of which span the creek. At high flows some of these may be difficult to avoid.

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