Turners Falls Releases: NEW Whitewater Opportunity in May and June!

Fish Study to Provide Paddling Opportuniies: May - June 2016


There will be continuous boatable flows in the Turner Falls bypass reach the entire month of May and some of June. Please try to use these flow and build interest in the reach. Flows between 2500 and 4400 cfs are excellent; flows of 1500 cfs are still paddlable. Schedule below.

The flows are part of a fish study. They want to determine if an altrasound array at the power station can keep shad away from the outflow so they will move upriver to the dam where a new fish passage devide would be installed. They will radio monitor a number of the shad releases from the Holyoke Dam. Once those fish have been recorded at Turners Falls, these flows may end. The May flows, which are the best, are pretty sure; the first two weeks of June have a good probability of happening; but the last two weeks of June may prove iffy.
Directions to put-in and take-out below.



Directions for Turners Falls Dam bypass reach


If you’re coming from the east on Route 2, turn left toward Turners Falls on the Gill-Montague Bridge that spans the Connecticut River. This intersection is a short distance beyond the Barton Cove boat ramp. The street is called Main Road or Avenue A, and there is a stoplight and a gas station on your right at the intersection. Immediately after crossing the river, take your first right and then enter the Great Falls Discovery Center parking lot. If no big events are happening, this could be a good staging area. 

From the south and west, take I-91 north to the exit just beyond Greenfield for Rte 2 EAST toward Boston, and follow Rte 2 about five miles to the second light. Turn right on the big bridge and then pick up the directions above.


Shuttle your vehicles down to the Poplar Street take-out in Turners Falls. When you exit the Great Falls Discovery Center parking lot, you have to go right on a one-way street. Circle back around to Avenue A, which is the same road you took across the bridge. Take a right on Avenue A for a couple miles until you see Deerfield Road on the left. (If you cross a bridge, you went too far.) Take Deerfield Road a short distance to a right hand turn on Poplar Street. Follow to its end, where there is a primitive take-out more-or-less underneath a bridge. 

Please be very clean and respectful. This is a residential neighborhood. For heaven’s sake, avoid littering, nudity, and drinking.

Put-in and Paddling:

You can carry your boats on the right past the Discovery Center, across a little iron bridge that crosses the power canal, and then bear LEFT and circle back around downhill toward the right to the river’s edge. It’s a couple hundred yards carry and there’s nothing steep.

On your right will be the Turners Falls Dam. Straight ahead and to the left, you’ll see an island and the ledges that are marked on the accompanying map as Opening Ledges. Depending on water level, these ledges may be paddled on either side of the island.

On the bypass run, which is about 2 1/2 miles or more, you’ll find the Opening Ledges of interest. Below, depending on water levels, there may be some Class I-II features. At levels above 10,000 cfs, more features such as surfing waves appear in several places. At higher flow levels, be sure you’re with a group experienced in big water rescue. Eventually, you encounter a small island on the right and a bigger island midstream. For paddlers with beginner skills, the two right channels may be the best choice. If you stay river left, you will come to the horizon line at Rock Dam. You don’t have to run Rock Dam; just follow around the islands to the right.

Rock Dam is a volcanic ridge that runs from the left shore to the island, with two breaks on the far river left. At water levels from about 2000 to 5000 cfs, this may be a Class II or Class III drop. At higher levels the whole ridge begins to wash out. Scouting is advised. Below Rock Dam, a large eddy forms behind the ridge at lower flows. If you have problems, head up the trails on river left, which lead to roadways.

The Poplar Street take-out is a ways downstream on river left under the bridge mentioned earlier.