The Stone Valley section of the Raquette River is New York's hardest dam release river. With releases every other Saturday starting in the second week of July, it provides a welcome respite from typical drought conditions for hardcore creekboaters in the Northeast. It also runs frequently at unscheduled intervals during times of high water, especially in the spring and fall. It drops over 200 feet in the first mile, with the greatest distance between any two rapids being just 400 yards. It's pool-drop nature means there is time to recover, and a trail parallels the river on both sides, allowing for easy scouting, portaging, and egress if you decide you've bit off more than you can chew.
The Raquette starts with a bang. An Unnamed Slide (Class IV+) starts just below the dam at the put in, requiring paddlers to thread the needle between a hole in the middle and a crashing lateral on the right. Another meaty hole awaits at the bottom.
Class III boogie water leads to a short pool and a massive horizon line at Colton Falls (Class V). If Colton is too intimidating for you, shoulder your boat and head back to the car. Your friends will appreciate you driving shuttle for them.
While several variations exist, the standard line on Colton is to drop over the first 9-foot ledge/slide about 50 feet off of the river left shore aiming for a transition rock to prevent a piton. Then you will drive hard (but not too hard) to the right to boof the right side of the horseshoe ledge. Properly executed, it will be easy to catch an eddy in the middle of the river above the 50-foot long slide. This is typically run down the right of center, avoiding the worst of the river-wide hole at the bottom. The best vantage point to scout from is the river left shore.
Just below Colton Falls are the Tannery Ledges (Class IV+), which are best run down the left over a series of boof ledges and pourovers. Work back toward the right-center at the bottom to avoid running aground on the shallow rocks just below the surface.
Mushroom Ledges (Class III+) follows a short distance downstream. With a riffly entry and obvious horizon, this 4-foot ledge features a significant hole that is easily boofed on river left. It's named for the very strange "mushroom" of erupting water in the middle of the hole that is created by a pothole or rock.
After some riffles and a sharp bend in the river, The Narrows (Class IV+) adds to the action. It's possible to scout from river left, but get out early as eddies become sparse above the drop. The typical line is to hug the left side of the island in the center of the river and descend a narrow slide before making a 90-degree turn to the left and boofing over a 5-foot ledge. Another narrowing follows with a hole to punch just after the boof.
After The Narrows, eddy left to get out and scout The Tubs (Class V). Of all the rapids on the Raquette, The Tubs is the spookiest. Running this rapid requires a precise line and proper boat angle as you drop right next to a car-sized hole backed up by a rock that causes a swirling vortex that feeds the hole. Then there's another pourover with a smaller but equally retentive hole. The whole thing drops about 18 feet and consistently dishes out humbling experiences to locals and pros alike. Be sure of your line before committing.
A large pool below slowly drains away into Class II, which escalates to Class III and then the Class V Particle Accelerator. Particle Accelerator is a shallow, low angle slide with frequent and unanticipated chunks of rock that stick up as it steepens to near vertical. The water funnels toward the vertical rock wall on the right, but a nasty slot and rooster tail combo on the left should also be avoided. Scout on the right.
Shortly below Particle Accelerator, 200 Proof (Class IV) provides the last hurrah. The shallow lead in has several routes narrowing to a steep chute with crashing laterals the whole way down. Drive right at the bottom to avoid the shallows. Several Class II riffles lead to a large cliff outcropping on the right, where a trail leads to the take-out.
To reach the put in from the take-out, turn south on Lenny Road. It will turn into Pleasant Street. Take your first right on Riverside Drive. Take a slight right to continue on Riverside Drive. Park on the left and follow the footpath to the river's edge.