A Touch of Elsa – Knightville section of the Westfield

It takes a lot of rain to get local whitewater rivers up to a decent level in the summer, and we had it this week. Evening thunderstorms saturated the ground, then Tropical Storm Elsa rolled through on Friday dumping 4-5 inches of rain in many parts of southern New England. I decided to join some friends for a trip in the Knightville section of the Westfield.

The Westfield River arises in the Berkshires and flows generally southeast for 78 miles to its confluence with the Connecticut River in Agawam, MA. The river has three main branches that join to form the main stem - the North Branch, the Middle Branch and the West Branch. We would be paddling the section of the West Branch from the Knightville Dam to Huntington.

The river is mostly class II/II+ rock-dodging except for the Gorge Drop in the Gardner State Park. The Gorge Drop is a 3-foot ledge that can be seen from upstream by a big rock in the middle of the river. You run this just to the right of the rock, and move left to catch the eddy, or at least avoid the big haystacks downstream. Here is a video of a raft going through, and then the rest of our group - I go through around 0.15.

From there it is more rock-dodging down to the take out. Few more pictures here:


Looks like really good fun. Is there a Class IV+ boof to the left of the line of rocks or is the landing too complex?

There is a line to the left of the rock, but it is not a clean drop so you need more water for it to be runnable. I have run it to the left at 2000 cfs with no problem. It is actually the preferred route at that level since the wave at the bottom on the right gets huge. This video is probably around 1200 cfs.