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The 'upper' section, from the Covered Bridge in North Newport to Kelleyville is reputed to have a tricky class III which we heard was rough on beginners, so we opted for the 'mid' section, from the Kelleyville Bridge (Rt. 103/John Stark Highway) down to the takeout about 10 miles down at a field below a cow farm. We did it twice, a few weeks apart, and learned quickly to get there earlier in the year with more water! The first time the level (from the Gov't site) was just about 2 1/2 foot, the second time just barely 2'. My wife and sons had little difficulty even in the flat rocky sections, while I had many times (being a rather portly 240# then) where I was 'bumping' my way along. And several times I would go the wrong way around a large rock and end up playing teeter-totter trying to get off a rock! But, knowing the water was never over our knees, except in 'pools'-we had a hilarious run. Very rocky, and some good areas we considered 'fast'. 2003 we are going out as soon as the water is around 3- 3 1/2 foot deep. Being a narrow river, more water than that and it is going to be fast and furious.
Great farm areas to go through, beautiful covered bridge to go under, and wildlife and birds all over. With higher water, we plan to go all the way to the Broad Street landing right at a dam in downtown Claremont-not 4 blocks from our house. With low water, you can't really get beyond the first takeout-the field with a cement block building and rusted old tank truck and a practice tower for the local fire department. The river starts to spread out and lots of sandbars-so we want high water for the final couple of miles. Overall, great 'beginner' experience to learn about working around rocks, how to flood your kayak and empty it (yup, it was me-twice on the same rock-now I use the skirt) and how to pick a good channel. Anytime you want, you can literally just get out of the yak and walk to the shore and take a break.
Note: Read the river height on the USG site-gauge is actually in West Claremont. Under 2 foot-forget it. Over 4 foot, be experienced and wear helmets! Many BIG rocks you won't see in high water!
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