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Reach 7: Below Essex Junction Dam to Lake Champlain (17 miles)

Location Distance Access
Essex Jct. below Green Mt. Power Dam 0 Both sides of river
Woodside Park 4 miles Right bank of river
Upriver of the Lime Kiln Bridge 5 miles Right bank of river
Winooski Millyard Canoe Access 7 miles Right bank of river
Burlington: Ethan Allen Homestead 10 miles Left bank of river
McCrea Farm 12.5 miles Old McCrea Cove
Route 127 Bridge 13.5 miles Right bank of river
Colchester - on Lake Champlain Beach 15.5 miles Right bank of river
Lake Champlain 17 miles  


Canoe Maps

Reach 7:
Below Essex Junction
Dam to Lake Champlain

Winooski Gorge

Millyard Canoe Access


(See Essex Junction Dam section and Essex Junction Dam portage map for information on the first access below the dam.)

The river flows through residential and urban areas and eventually returns to wooded and wetland areas. Downstream of the city of Winooski the river becomes a wide and flat body of water recharging a great intervale floodplain and flowing through its delta for 17 miles before emptying into Lake Champlain.

In this last reach there are canoe access points at Winooski Valley Park District parks. Primitive camping is allowed by permit only at some of these parks. (See Reach 7 map for reference.) Please contact the Winooski Valley Park District at 863 5744 for information and a permit.

Essex Junction Dam to Millyard Canoe Access

Through this section the river is wide and fairly deep. Farmland, residential areas and some deciduous forest line the river' s banks.

Just below the Essex Junction Dam, the channel to the left of the island may be blocked, depending on the water level. If so, canoeists can use the right channel.

A caution is in order about releases. Canoeists should be aware that water levels here depend on how much water is in the river and when waters are released from the Essex Junction Dam. Levels can change rather quickly.

This whole section of river is impacted by the Winooski Gorge Dam (Green Mountain Power' s #18 facility located just below the Lime Kiln Bridge) which may pond water for several miles distance upstream, reaching to the Winooski Valley Park District' s Woodside Park in Essex. At other times this part of the river has a swift current. This is all based on the amount of water naturally in the river, the operation of the Essex #19 and Gorge #18 facilities, and the relative time of releases. Generally releases are in the morning and late afternoon, and frequently not on Sundays.

Muddy Brook (access to Allen Brook Cascade) enters the river from the left bank about a mile below the Essex Junction Dam where the river turns sharply to the right. There is a canoe access on Muddy Brook a few yards beyond where the brook joins the river. This is an excellent fishing, walking and picnicking area. Several short nature trails through unusually lush floodplain flora have been provided by the Winooski Valley Park District which leases this 8-acre parcel from S.T. Griswold and Company. To access the area by vehicle, turn onto Lime Kiln Road south from Route 15 across from St. Michael' s College. Take the second left onto National Guard Avenue. Follow National Guard Avenue onto Poor Farm Road to the Muddy Brook entrance and parking area on your left. Poor Farm Road continues to River Cove Road which meets Route 2A one mile south of the Essex Junction Dam.

Just beyond the confluence of Muddy Brook is a moderately easy set of rapids about one-quarter of a mile long. Water flow will be low during the summer except after heavy rains and it may be necessary to line your canoe.

Four miles below the Essex Junction dam and just past a sharp turn in the rivers course is the Winooski Valley Park District' s Woodside Park on the right. A canoe/boat ramp has been constructed here, although access by vehicles to the park is currently restricted. A quarter mile portage from the park gate at the Woodside Correctional Center is necessary.

Access to the park is directly across from Fort Ethan Allen on Route 15. Picnicking, hiking and fishing are available in this recreation area. Parking is available at the park gate.

In order to bypass the impassable Winooski Gorge and the Winooski Falls in the City of Winooski, a two mile vehicular portage should be arranged in advance. Canoeists may exit at Woodside Park or continue one mile further and exit before the Lime Kiln Bridge. There is an access shortly after the wastewater treatment plant on the right. (See Winooski Gorge portage map for information.)

YOU MUST EXIT HERE because beyond the Lime Kiln bridge the river cannot be paddled for two and one-half miles since it spills over Green Mountain Power's Gorge #18 Dam in Colchester/Winooski, and the Winooski Falls Chase Mill Dam in Winooski.

Green Mountain Power is presently working with the Winooski Valley Park District and Northern Vermont Canoe Cruisers to establish a portage around the Gorge #18 Dam. This would allow canoeist to travel as far as the Winooski Falls before requiring portage by car.

Your portage by car should be made to the Winooski Valley Park District' s Millyard Canoe Access off West Canal Street in downtown Winooski. The Millyard Canoe Access can be reached by taking Route 15 into downtown Winooski and taking a left onto Main Street. Just before crossing the bridge into Burlington, turn right onto West Canal Street and continue for one-half mile to a paved road into the Millyard Condominiums. This road leads to the river and the canoe access. Parking is available here (see portage map).

Millyard Canoe Access to Lake Champlain

The river between the City of Winooski and Lake Champlain meanders through flat terrain which quickly changes from an urban setting to farms and forestland. Just above the Millyard access is a choice fishing spot known as Salmon Hole. Long appreciated by local fishermen for its walleye pike, steelhead trout, and landlocked salmon, this fishing hole nestled just below the Winooski Falls also makes a lovely picnic area. The Winooski Valley Park District owns the area and has provided a graded trail up to Riverside Drive on the Burlington side of the river.

Downriver of the Millyard access, near the railroad bridge, is the site of the first clearings in the Winooski Valley in 1773. But this is also the site of a much earlier settlement: recent archaeological finds indicate that almost over 300 years before Ira and Ethan Allen settled on the river, the Winooski River' s floodplain was farmed by Indians. Pre-historic campsites have been unearthed throughout the Intervale area. As you approach the railroad bridge, twisted girders and abutments of the original bridge, which was washed away in the infamous 1927 flood, become visible.

Two and one-half miles below Winooski, the 284-acre Ethan Allen Homestead appears on your left. Owned by the Winooski Valley Park District, this public park has a large picnic shelter, fireplace and outdoor privy located in the upper meadow. A canoe access on the left bank is indicated by a sign. The access is located where an inlet joins the river. This is a pleasant spot to stop for lunch, to hike or rest.

The 200 year-old Ethan Allen Farmhouse and adjacent buildings are also owned by the Park District. A walking tour and video presentation on Ethan and Fanny Allen is offered daily from spring to fall for a small fee, along with other educational programs by the Ethan Allen Homestead Trust. For further information inquire at the Hill Brownell Education Center (located in the large barn) or by calling 865-4556.

To reach the Ethan Allen Homestead by car, take Route 127 north and exit for North Avenue Beaches. Then take the first right at the small green signs to the Ethan Allen Homestead.

Two and one-half miles below the Ethan Allen Homestead is another Winooski Valley Park District canoe access. Adjacent to an island, McCrea Farm offers picnic and parking facilities. Canoe into the cove three-fourths of a mile downstream from the island on the right. The cove opening is in the right corner where the river takes sharp turn to the left. The canoe access and picnic tables are at the end of the cove.

This 286-acre park is home to a wide variety of songbirds, ducks, and geese which visit the marsh in the lower portion of the park each year. In its quiet cove by the river, you may find blue winged teals, American bitterns and herons. McCrea Farm can be reached by taking Route 127 north to Colchester four corners, the first intersection with a light after the bridge; from there go right on MaCrea Road to the park entrance at the road's end.

About one mile downstream, the river turns sharply to the right shortly before the Route 127 Heineberg Bridge. Stay far to the right on this corner, since the river tends to carry you into logs and dead wood on the left bank and below.

There is an access on the left immediately after the bridge. The bank is low here but there is a steep hill that you will need to pull the canoe up in order to reach the road access. Parking is available on the side of the old road bed. To reach this area by car exit off Route 127 at Plattsburg Avenue and take your first right. This is an unmarked road.

Just below the Heineberg bridge there is also a very sharp eddy on the right bank near the old bridge abutment. Be cautious; it can be dangerous, especially in high water.

From the Heineberg Bridge on down, the river is more exposed and wider. On windy days it can be noticeably choppy. As you paddle this section, Derway Island in Burlington is to your left and Half Moon Cove in Colchester is through the woods to your right. Both areas have significant scientific and wildlife value.

Three-quarters of a mile above the mouth of the river on the right bank is a state fishing access. Canoeists may take out here or continue to the mouth of the river, head north along the shoreline of Lake Champlain for about one-half mile around a spit of land, to a beach and portage about 200 yards to the same access area. The Winooski Valley Park District' s 55-acre Delta Park is adjacent to the state access. The park contains 3000 feet of lake and river frontage and is the home of rare plants and animals. A parking lot, picnic tables and trails are provided.

Delta Park and the state fishing access can be reached by car by following Route 127 (North Beltline) one mile beyond the Heineberg Bridge to Colchester four corners (first intersection with a light after the bridge); turn left onto Porter' s Point Road and continue for one and one-third miles; take a left onto Airport Road, go one-third mile, turn left again onto Windemere Way and follow it to its end.