The New Haven Ledges is a staple for the Vermont paddling community. In a state with almost no dam release runs, the Ledges come in after most decent rains, roughly 100 days per year. With boulder gardens, slots, slides, chutes, and even a 15-foot waterfall, the Ledges have just about everything you could ask for in a Class IV+ whitewater playground. As the level rises, it becomes a challenging test piece for those that know it well.
Park at Eagle Park on Lincoln Road for the put-in. The rapids gradually build as you round a corner, starting with a long Class IV boulder garden. It's generally more fluid to snake down the left hand side. Chute by the Road, Class IV, comes next, dropping about 12 feet on the right. Aim for the middle of the chute.
The river flattens for a moment before Secret Compartment, a 5-foot-tall Class V ledge on the left with a hidden sieve. This rapid has changed several times after major flood events. Unfortunately, the most recent change has widened the entrance to the sieve, making this rapid especially consequential. Scout from well above on the right, and if you choose to run it, make sure to stay as close to the right side of the slot as you can as you go over the ledge.
S -Turn, Class III, leads to the river's Class IV+ namesake, Ledges. A variety of lines exist at different flows, and the holes get quite sticky as flows increase. The standard line starts on the right for the first ledge, heads left on the second, and slides through a slot below the third ledge on the left.
Just below the Ledges is Oh, By The Way, Class IV+ and one of the stickiest holes on the run. Best run about 6 inches off the river-right shore with slight right angle, the powerful hole tends to push paddlers left into the Schott Slot, an ugly narrow slot.
Class II to III water leads to Roostertail, a long Class IV+ rapid that ends in a slide. The river left eddy has a strong recirculation, and Toaster Falls lies just downstream.
At the bottom of Roostertail, a moving pool leads to the lip of Toaster, Class III. Toaster is 15 feet tall, but despite its size, it's one of the easiest rapids on the run. Point and shoot down the middle because the left side is shallow.
Below Toaster, the Class V Playpen Rapid begins, increasing in difficulty toward the bottom. This is the longest rapid on the run, with several mid-river boof, and a sieve in the bottom right that is generally easy to avoid. Just follow the current down the middle and right, and move left of the prominent rock in the middle of the river. The final slot in Playpen should be run on the right with a left angle. Scout from the road on your shuttle.
All American is next, a Class IV 5-foot ledge with one of the best boofs in Vermont. Stick to the left here, and don't pencil... the landing is shallow.
Mama Tried, Class IV, follows immediately after. Drive hard to the right, right next to the massive slanted boulder, to avoid this powerful hole.
Hipshot, Class IV, is a narrow chute with a high water boof on the left that leads into another slide on the right or chute on the left. Takeout below the Route 116 Bridge at the church on the left.
To shuttle, cross back over the bridge, take an immediate right, and follow the Lincoln Road back to Eagle Park.