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First Branch White River Paddle

With an upper section that is ideal for whitewater enthusiasts at the right levels and a lower section that can be paddled into the summer months, the First Branch of the White River provides adventure for paddlers willing to portage
Trail Activity
Length
15.3 miles, One Way
Difficulty
Strenuous
Towns
Chelsea (VT), Royalton (VT), Tunbridge (VT)
Surface
River/Stream
Pets
Permitted
Fees
No

Description

The Upper section of the First Branch of the White River, from Chelsea to the Moxley Covered Bridge, features many Class II and III rapids. At the right level, it is a fun trip for experienced whitewater canoeists. Farther downstream, the river holds enough water to be paddled into the summer. However, there are multiple challenging portages. 

The White River Partnership has developed a Watershed Recreation Map and Guide that includes recommended day trips and interesting facts about the natural and cultural history of the White River and its tributaries. To find out more about paddling the White River and its tributaries and to support recreation and conservation along the river, please purchase the waterproof Map and Guide from the Partnership

Other Information

For your safety:

Use PFDs.All boats must carry an approved PFD for each person. State law requires children 12 years and under to wear PFDs at all times.

Be prepared for cold water. Wear your life jacket, stay fueled and hydrated, avoid cotton, pack extra clothes in a dry bag, and know the symptoms and treatment of hypothermia.

Be alert for strainers. Downed trees in the water can trap people and boats. They are most common in the White River and its tributaries upriver of South Royalton.

Know the location of rapids, dams and other hazards. There are no warning signs or buoys!

Be aware of river flows. The USGS posts real-time water flow data for Vermont here. Check the gauge nearest your trip before leaving. Avoid swimming holes during high water and after heavy rains!

Watch for poison ivy and poison parsnip. Know how to identify these plants. If you come in contact with them, clean exposed skin with medication as soon as possible.

Trail Manager

The First Branch Paddle is a part of the White River Water Trail. The White River Partnership works with state and federal agencies, municipalities and other non-profits to steward the White River Water Trail. For more information, visit their website or contact:

White River Partnership

White River Partnership
PO Box 705
South Royalton, VT 05068
Phone: (802) 763-7733
info@whiteriverpartnership.org
View website

Trail Tips

Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
Make a small campsite, preferably where there is no vegetation.
Legend
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Trailhead Information

There are multiple access points along this 15 mile section of the First Branch of the White River. Refer to the trail map or the Watershed Recreation Map and Guide from the White River Partnership for detailed information.

Click on a parking icon to get custom directions
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Trail Alerts

Safety
Be a Safe and Respectful Paddler
Paddling conditions will vary according to the weather and season, so always exercise caution and always wear a lifejacket. With good judgment and proper equipment, the risk associated with paddling can me minimized. Respect the natural world and the rights of landowners, and be considerate of other outdoor enthusiasts. Paddlers should seek to avoid causing erosion, trampling vegetation, disturbing wildlife, and harming water quality.
Ecology
Stop the Spread of Aquatic Invasives
When moving from one body of water to another make sure to do the following to stop the spread of invasive aquatic organisms: - Visually inspect your craft and remove plants, mud and debris - Eliminate water from all of your equipment - Clean and dry anything that came into contact with water - Wear quick-drying shoes
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