Our mountains have long lured adventurers to the Mad River Valley, but it’s our river that binds our community. The Mad River along with nearby lakes and streams provide ample opportunities for kayakers, canoeists, stand-up paddle boarders and tubers of all abilities and inclinations to make memories that will last a lifetime.
Running south to north, the Mad River is hugged by Route 100 from its headwaters in Granville to the confluence with the Winooski River in Middlesex. Over its 36 miles in length the Mad River meanders through the villages of Warren, Waitsfield and Moretown with magnificent swim holes, fishing spots, covered bridges and rapids along the way.
In the spring, the melting and run-off from our abundant snowpack reminds folks how the Mad River got it’s name. This is the time of year when experienced paddlers take to the high water to challenge themselves on the Mighty Mad. The spring, high water season is generally short and sweet before giving way to what are normally drier summer conditions. This is when the Mad River runs a little slower, a bit more placid and quite a bit shallower. It is arguably one of the most enjoyable and scenic rivers in New England and there are lots of ways to experience it:
Guided River Experiences
Clearwater Sports in downtown Waitsfield offers guided river trips on both the Mad River and Winooski River. They also offer guided tubing excursions too.
Umiak Outfitters up in Stowe provides both guided and self-guided river trips on the Winooski River.
Clearwater Sports will rent you the craft you need along with a shuttle to the river if you need it. They offer canoes, various types of kayaks (doubles too), tubes, stand-up paddle boards and all the other gear you would ever need.
Flat Water Paddling
If your looking for some flat water head over to Blueberry Lake in Warren. Tthere you’ll find a lovely, remote lake cradled in the mountains. It’s a great place to go stand up paddle boarding, play around on a kayak or canoe and float on a tube. It is the perfect compliment to a hot, summer’s day and with the Blueberry Lake trail system right there you can spend an entire day there without ever getting in your car. Heck, you can even do SUP Yoga on the lake with Clearwater Sports!
The Waterbury Reservoir is 18 miles up the road from the MRV. This beautiful, 850 acre lake was created when the Waterbury Dam was completed in 1938. The reservoir is part of Little River State Park which also offers camping and an amazing network of multi-use trails. Umiak Outfitters has a canoe/kayak/SUP rental concession at the park
There are a veritable plethora of other flat water paddling opportunities in our general vicinity making the Mad River Valley a paddler’s dream come true. Learn more about some of these other paddling locales; Lake Lamoille, Lake Elmore, Green River Reservoir, Lake Eden, Caspian Lake, Lake Willoughby and of course, Lake Champlain.
More MRV Paddling Information
Thanks to the cooperation of landowners, respectful paddlers, and organizations such as Friends of the Mad River and the Vermont River Conservancy, there is easy access to many sections of the Mad River. It’s characterized by its unique geology, mountain views and a rural landscape along the way. For more information about paddling the Mad River, check out vtpaddlers.net, consult a guidebook or stop by a local shop, which offers SUP rentals, instruction and tours.
The Mad River Valley is also home to the offices of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, a nonprofit organization and water trail connecting communities, history and wildlands across the Northern Forest. They believe access to wild places improves people’s lives, strengthens our communities and increases our care for the natural world.
Our neighbors along the fabled VT Route 100 help to make our area of central Vermont an enticing place to visit for paddlers. We encourage you to learn what is offered in Waterbury in regard to paddle sports and also be sure to see what’s happening up in Stowe.
Take a virtual, rollicking, kayak ride down the entire length of the Mad River from Granville to Middlesex.