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Reach 3: Montpelier to the Middlesex Dam (5.5 miles)

Location Distance Access
Montpelier: Interstate 89 overpass 0 Right bank of river
Middlesex: river parallels route 2 3.5 miles Right bank of river
Middlesex Gorge: above 100B bridge 5.5 miles Right bank of river


Canoe Maps

Reach 3:
Montpelier to
the Middlesex Dam

Middlesex Dam


When beginning a canoe trip from Montpelier, there are several good places to put in. One is at the northeast corner of Montpelier High School located on Bailey Avenue and the other is underneath the Interstate 89 overpass on the right side of the river on Rt. 2. Plenty of parking is available at both areas. Or if you would like to run a short section of easy rapids put in another one and one quarter mile upstream from the high school on the right bank. This access can be reached through local parking areas.

Canoeing the stretch between the Interstate 89 overpass and Middlesex Dam is very relaxing and pleasant. The current is slow and the course winds past farmhouses and pastureland. Many large dairy farms are visible along this stretch and much of the land is cultivated. Trees are of the wetland variety, such as willows and alders. The river can be shallow in spots and the canoe may have to be lined.

About two and a half miles downstream where Interstate 89 and the train tracks closely parallel the river, there is a small section of rapids. Pull out on the left bank before the rapids to decide on the best route to proceed. About a mile beyond these rapids on the right bank is a canoe stop along Route 2. The bank is steep here but this area can be used as an access point.

Another take-out and launching area is one and one-quarter mile further downriver, before the Route 100B bridge where Route 2 curves with the bend of the river. The bank is low here and from this access a store is within easy reach by foot. If you are unsure of your ability to reach the Middlesex Dam access area safely or do not want to negotiate its short, yet steep hill (see Middlesex Dam section on next page), take out at this access.

Middlesex Dam

Middlesex Gorge just above the GMP dam is one of the most spectacular areas on the river with rock walls towering 75 feet above the water in some places. Remember that like all dams on the river, the Middlesex Dam is potentially dangerous and should be approached with caution. Boat barriers in the form of floating barrels span the river under the Route 100B bridge.


The barrels are normally in place about Memorial Day to about November 1st. It is always possible that the floating barrels may not be in the river for reasons beyond Green Mountain Power's control.

The take out is on the left side of the river, just before the bridge. The bank here is quite steep and though it is a short distance you may require a rope to pull your canoe up to the road. The portage, which begins just upstream of the bridge and ends downstream of the powerhouse is .2 miles. Much of the portage runs along Route 100B. The canoe access is reached by following the dam access road off Rt. 100B down to the powerhouse. There is a gently sloping path that leads to the river's edge off the parking area.

There is a chute of rapids below the dam which can be very tricky depending on the water flow over the dam. Boaters should be mindful of eddies caused by discharges immediately behind the powerhouse. Survey the rapids from the bank before attempting to run them. If the water is shallow, the rapids may be portaged around on the left bank.