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Reach 1: Cabot to Plainfield (15 miles)

Location Distance Access
Cabot 0  
Old Schoolhouse Common, Marshfield 8 miles Left bank of river
Twinfield Union School 13 miles Left bank of river
Plainfield 15 miles Left bank of river


Canoe Map
Reach 1:
Cabot to


A general caution is in order about the first two reaches of the river. The navigability and conditions vary widely in the upper reaches and require expert skills during high water. Hazard signs are not provided for dams above Montpelier. Use caution.

The headwaters of the Winooski River begin in Cabot at an elevation of 1820 feet and form the watershed of Coits Pond. The outlet of the pond forms the beginning of the Winooski River. From here, the river winds its way to Marshfield, and continues under route 2 to the dam in Marshfield. This section of river is not suitable for canoeing. The first access for this reach is located at the Old Marshfield Elementary School, now called the Old School House Common.

However, Marshfield Dam, a popular recreational canoeing area is located just 2 miles north of Marshfield on Route 2. (You will see this area referred to as Molly's Falls Pond on topographical maps). Green Mountain Power and Vermont Fish & Wildlife have provided a public boat access to the dam. (See reach 1 map for reference.) There are two stores and a bakery/cafe in Marshfield.

To reach the Old School House Common take a left (heading west) off Route 2 onto Depot Street which is an unmarked Street across from the general store. The Common is located on the right, there is an entrance sign and the building is easily recognized as an old schoolhouse.

The waters in this stretch can be quick and full of sharp turns and small rapids. The river meanders through pastureland with large flat topped hills and passes Spooner's Campground & RV park, which is located on the right bank. The access is on the left bank and there is a small bridge that can be used to reach the campground. Brook, Brown and Rainbow Trout are often caught in these waters.

Five miles downriver access is available on the left immediately after the bridge to Twinfield Union School. The school is easily sighted directly off Rt. 2. From this bridge the river continues its meandering course, but as the gradient increases, the current increases and class II rapids extend for one mile to the Onion River Campground, which passes on the left. As the river approaches Plainfield it crosses under several roads and a covered bridge. To portage around private property and the dam in Plainfield you must pull out at the last access before Plainfield. After you pass under the covered bridge, the access is located on the left immediately before the next bridge you come to.

HAZARD SIGNS ARE NOT PROVIDED AT DAMS ABOVE MONTPELIER; CANOE AT YOUR OWN RISK. No portage map is provided, see Reach I map for reference.