Harriman Reservoir     

Last Updated: 2/2018

             Harriman Reservoir, also known as Lake Whitingham, is the largest body of water located entirely within the state of Vermont. Enjoyed by boaters, swimmers, paddlers, and fishermen, the reservoir extends about 10 miles from Wilmington to Whitingham in southern Vermont.
               The scenic reservoir is owned by TransCanada and is a source of hydroelectricity. Originally developed by the New England Power Company in 1922 to 1923, the reservoir flooded the former pulpwood and lumber village of Mountain Mills, located just outside of Wilmington.  When water levels are low, you can occasionally spot submerged tree stumps and foundations from Mountain Mills. http://www.mollystarkbyway.org
              Paddlers are facing a daunting task to paddle the entire perimiter of this body of water in one day.  I have paddled in two days taking the south and then the north and using Wards Beach as a half way stop for each paddle.  If there is someone out there that has paddle it in one day, please let me know.
South Half

Harriman Dam
        Harriman Dam is a hydroelectric dam in Windham County, Vermont in the town of Whitingham. The water from the dam flows through a 2.5-mile penstock to a power generation plant in the adjacent town of Readsboro.
      The dam was built in 1923 by the New England Power Company. Some 215 feet high and 1250 feet long as its crest, it's one of the ten hydroelectric dams impounding the Deerfield River. Owned and operated by TransCanada Corporation, the facility is an earthen dam with a relatively unusual concrete "morning glory" (freestanding conical drain) spillway, similar to another example at Monticello Dam in California.
The reservoir it creates, Harriman Reservoir, has a water surface area of 2039 acres, a maximum depth of 180 feet, and has a gross storage capacity of 117,300 acre-feet.
North Half

The Ledges
       The Ledges, named for its large stone outcroppings, is a small section of the undeveloped 28-mile public recreational shoreline of Harriman Reservoir near Wilmington, Vermont. On any hot summer day as many as 300-400 people can be found quietly relaxing and socializing in various states of dress.
       No law in Vermont prohibits nude recreation in the state's many discrete streams and lakes, “The Ledges” is often the destination of sunbathers who seek not to impose on others.  Popularity of this clothing-optional area peaked during the late 60's. Currently the Ledges is mostly a tourist destination that attracts about 5,000 unique visitors from throughout the Northeast as well as from all over the world.

Skill Level:    Class 1  Flat water. On windy days Class 2 with waves.

Estimated Time:    
At 3 mph 9 hours
At 4 mph 6.6 hours    
Distance for area Basin:
North Half:      10.0 miles
South Half:      16.5 miles
Total Distance: 26.5 miles
Distance can vary based on the height of the reservoir.
Max Depth: 185 feet
USGS Map: Readsboro, VT and Jacksonville, VT (7.5’x15’)

Launch Address:
North End:
Paved Boat Ramp:
264 Fairview Ave, Wilmington, VT
Position: 42-51.85 N 72-53.80 W

Car Top only:
3 Woods Rd, Wilmington, VT 05363
Position: 42-51.90 N 72-54.20 W

Wards Beach Car Top:
(End of) Ward's Beach Access Rd, Wilmington, VT
Position: 42-50.00 N 72-52.45 W

South End:
Car top Only:
7180 Vermont 100, Whitingham, VT
Position: 42-47.00 N 72-53.70 W
Boat Ramp:
40 Brick House Road, Whitingham, VT
Position: 42- 47.44 N 72-53.40 W 

Physical Features:
  • Area:            2039 acres
  • Max depth:       31 ft
  • Average depth: 16 ft    
  • Terrain Type:     78 Summer Homes, Wooded, Swamp
Fish Population
  • Unrecorded - Unknown

North End Paved Boat Ramp
Put In and Take Out: 21.3 miles (about 35 minutes)
  1. From US Route 91 take exit 2 Brattleboro, Vermont
  2. ​Take Route 9 West toward Bennington.
  3. At mile 18.3, at the stop light in Wilmington, turn left onto South Main Street.
  4. At mile 18.6 turn right on Fairfield Avenue.
  5. The avenue goes from pavement to gravel. Keep going.
  6. Pass Sumner Lane on left.  Keep going straight.
  7. At mile 21.3, arrive at large parking area and boat ramp.

South End Boat Ramp
Put In and Take Out: 25.0 miles (about 37 minutes)
  1. From US Route 91 take exit 2 Brattleboro, Vermont
  2. ​Take Route 9 West toward Bennington.
  3. At mile 17.2, turn left onto VT Route 100 South (Tallulah's Antiques on the corner)
  4. At mile 20.9, turn right onto Wilmington Cross Rd. It has a small street sign so be careful not to miss the turn.
  5. At mile 23.0, at stop sign, turn right onto VT Route 100 South. (Yes back on 100 S)
  6. At mile 24.5, pass the end of Sadawga lake on your left.
  7. At mile 25.0, turn right onto Brick House Road. (If you see water on your right you went to far turn around.)
  8. The road is gravel.  Take a left turn before the first house to the boat ramp.  Plenty of parking.
Tropical Storm Irene
​August 28, 2011
        The town of Wilmington, and the state of Vermont, was hit by Tropical Storm Irene. 13 inches of rainfall came through the course of 10 hours, comparable to dumping 26 swimming pools on every acre of land. The rivers flooded over their banks washing away buildings, destroying downtown businesses and inventory, and displacing families from their homes. Wilmington was the hardest hit town in the entire state.
        Almost immediately after the storm subsided residents began the work of cleaning up and figuring out how to turn this devastating tragedy into a blessing. Within days the National Guard was repairing washed out roads, businesses were getting cleaned out, and fund raising began to help affected people and businesses to get back on their feet.
       By the date of the one year anniversary, the town was again thriving with many businesses back better than ever and tourists excited to shop locally. It was a devastating storm, but the way that the people came together afterwards was like a beautiful rainbow.
          Read more about Wilmington VT at the link below.
Catamount Trail: Section 2
Harriman Dam to Route 9
         The Catamount Trail began as an idea in the minds of three young Vermont men: Steve Bushey, Paul Jarris and Ben Rose. Steve Bushey, then a University of Vermont student in geography, researched the route and obtained access privileges from various landowners as a thesis project. Steve, with friends Paul and Ben, skied the route on the first End-to-End Tour in 1984, and the Catamount Trail was born.

        From the Harriman Dam to Route 9 the trail is 10.1 miles long. For details of this section, use the link below:

Catamount Trail