• The Deerfield River is tributary to the Connecticut River, depicted here in Thomas Cole's famous 1836 painting

  • The Deerfield River in its floodplain eroding through the red sandstone that makes up Mount Sugarloaf.

  • Swimming hole on the Deerfield (photo: Art Schwenger)

  • Rafters enjoying a summer day on the river (Photo: Art Schwenger)

  • Sunset during December over the Deerfield Valley (photo: A Schwenger)

  • Autumn along the Deerfield RIver

Our Watershed

From Stratton Mountain in Southern Vermont to Greenfield in Massachusetts, the Deerfield River watershed typifies rural New England at its best. Our rugged topography boasts spectacular scenic settings and exciting recreational opportunities.

This topography has also attracted large electric utilities and their accompanying dams: we have ten hydroelectric developments on the mainstem, some built as far back as 1911.

One of the coldest and cleanest rivers in the region, the Deerfield River is home to native and stocked trout and is the site for Atlantic salmon restoration.

Hydrology

  • Drainage area: about 665 square miles (347 in MA)
  • Mainstem miles: 70.2 (44 in MA)
  • River and stream miles: 649.7
  • Perennial river miles: 589.3
  • Lakes in the watershed: 49 (7023.3 watershed acres)
  • Major tributaries: North Branch, South Branch, East Branch and West Branch in Vermont; Cold, Chickley, Bear, South, and Green Rivers in Massachusetts (North and Green originate in VT)
  • Perimeter: 130.74 mi

Some subwatersheds:

  • North River: 92.4 square miles
  • Green River: 89.9 square miles
  • Cold River: 31.7 square miles
  • Chickley River: 27.4 square miles
  • South River: 26.3 square miles
  • Clesson Brook: 21.2 square miles

Topography

  • River elevation: drops approximately 2000 feet from the headwaters in southern Vermont to the confluence with the Connecticut River in Greenfield, Massachusetts.
  • Altitudes: range from 2,841 to 120 ft above sea level

The river flows southeastward through the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts in a narrow valley bordered by steep slopes that rise, in places, more than 1,000 ft above the river. Near the Connecticut River, the terrain is much flatter. Overall, the gradient of the Deerfield River is quite steep, averaging 46.8 ft/mi from its headwaters to the USGS streamflow gage near West Deerfield, a distance of about 69.5 river MI

Population

  • 16 towns in 2 Vermont counties (Bennington,Windham)
  • Brattleboro, Dover, Glastonbury, Guilford, Halifax, Marlboro, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Stratton, Sunderland, Wardsboro,Whitingham, Wilmington, Woodford
  • 20 towns in 3 Massachusetts counties (Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire)
  • Adams, Ashfield, Bernardston, Buckland, Charlemont,Colrain, Conway, Deerfield, Florida, Goshen, Greenfield, Hawley, Heath, Leyden, Monroe, North Adams, Plainfield, Rowe, Savoy, Shelburne
  • 35,300 people in the Massachusetts section (1990 Census data)

Other information

  • About 78 percent of the basin is forested and only about 3 percent is urbanized.
  • There are 9 dams and 10 hydroelectric developments on the mainstem
  • Check the EPA site “Surf your Watershed” for more!