The Eagle Section of the Beaver River is the whitewater equivalent of a luge track: narrow, steep, and over way too soon. Located along the Beaver River Canoe Trail, the Eagle Section (sometimes referred to as Eagle Falls) is typically considered a portage. But each year starting on Labor Day Weekend and continuing each consecutive Saturday until the last weekend of September, whitewater paddlers flock to the quarter-mile stretch of bedrock slides. With only five major rapids and a vertical drop of about 110 feet, the Eagle section is remarkably forgiving with straightforward rapids (despite their size) and large pools below most drops.
To start, sign in at the dam. Though it seems inconsequential, putting your name and city down on the clipboard is the most direct way to influence the power company to continue releases and possibly increase their frequency in the future. Once you've signed in, continue walking across the concrete dam above the penstock and follow the well-worn footpath into the woods. In just a few yards the river-left edge of the dam will appear between gaps in the trees. Drop your boat here and continue down the footpath as it opens into a bedrock slab. Scout the entire run before putting on because the drops come up fast, and getting in and out of your boat will be difficult once on the river.
Most people get set up on the bank and seal launch directly onto the steep slope of the dam. Make sure to bear to the right, as a nasty piece of rebar awaits the unsuspecting at the top of the small pour over visible at the base of the dam on the left.
A short stretch of boogie water leads to the next horizon and the alternate put-in. This is the first natural drop on the run, where the river funnels into a double fall line against the right wall. The steep curl of whitewater is intimidating but not difficult to manage; simply lean into the pillow with a right brace and try to keep your boat at a slight left angle. At the bottom, be on the lookout for eddies on the right and left, the second drop follows immediately after.
The second horizon is much taller, and it often has crowds of spectators cheering for carnage on the left side. Perhaps it's because of this that the Class II+ lead-in holes tend to catch otherwise excellent paddlers off guard and send them down the narrow, banking slide backwards. Stay focused through the top hole and you should have no trouble with the rest of the slide... it's so narrow there's only one way to go, and it empties into a huge deep pool.
If the weather is nice you may notice climbers on the ragged face of the river right cliffs. The climbing here is excellent. When you're done enjoying the scenery, continue downstream to the third and most difficult drop. The Class III lead-in offers a variety of lines to get set up for the sharp turning slide ahead. No matter how you approach it, the water pushes surprisingly hard to the outside of the turn on the left. At the bottom there is a recirculating eddy on the right and an inconsequential but annoying cul-de-sac of rocks that temporarily catches boaters in the middle left.
Several yards of Class II to Class III water makes up the longest stretch of boogie water on the run, leading to a sharp left turn and the final drop. The boogie builds in intensity as it approaches the bend, ending in a 12-foot waterfall with a deep pool. It can be run anywhere, though the far right tends to yield the best boofs.
Continue downstream through more Class II to some stairs underneath the diversion pipe to take out, or head over to river left just below the falls to climb out and hike back up for another lap!
A brief discussion of some of the notable rapids on this run follows, but please consult a river map for specific locations and information.