The country’s oldest continuously run whitewater kayak and canoe races are taking to the Westfield River once again this April. The Westfield River, running down from the Berkshires through the Hilltowns of Western Mass, has been given Wild & Scenic designation by the National Park Service for its scenic, historic character and free flowing waters. This event is important as an annual rite of spring and celebration of the most distinctive and beautiful geological feature of the region. It draws spectators and paddlers from throughout the Northeast. Make your own history by becoming a paddler!
The race will take place on two branches of the Westfield River, which has received a designation from the National Park Service as “Wild & Scenic” due to its history and natural beauty. The US Army Corps of Engineers will be raising the water level at the Knightville Dam to add to the thrills of the event.
Spectators are welcome at key vantage points. The race starts for Experts at the Knightville Dam in Huntington at 9:30 AM. The Classic race (amateurs) begins at 11 AM in downtown Huntington, and concludes before the waterfall in Woronoco just outside of Westfield, MA.
There will be a race celebration free to all at Strathmore Park, on Route 20 east of the center of Russell, beginning at noon, featuring food trucks, live music, a DJ and more. Race winners will receive a hand-crafted paddle trophy in an awards ceremony at 2:30 p.m.
9:30 AM: Expert Race begins at Knightville Dam in Huntington and goes for 5 miles with one class 4 drop and several class 3 rapids. This is intended for expert racers and we suggest dry suits or wetsuits. PFD must be worn.
11 AM: Classic Race begins in downtown Huntington (Freight Yard Road just off the Rte 112 green bridge near Rte 20), ends in Woronoco east of Russell, MA: 8 miles with several class 2 and 2+ rapids and one class 3+ rapid. Paddlers must carry (portage) their canoes or kayaks over two sets of rock outcroppings to evade impassable waterfalls.
Those competing in the Expert Race may enter the Classic Race for an additional fee of $10.
Fun Run for newbie paddlers to enjoy a fast 1 mile run on the river. This one-mile run is designed for newbie or flatwater paddlers to get their feet wet and be a part of the excitement of the river. While there are no rapids on this stretch, the water is ripping and participants should expect a bumpy, wet ride. Costumes are encouraged. There is class 2 whitewater with quickwater. Begins in downtown Huntington just after the Classic Race, ends at the pullout on Rte 20 just opposite the Hilltown Community Health Center.