By Frank Mooney, Crab Apple Whitewater Rafting
The Northern Berkshires has several outdoor activities for groups interested in natural beauty, adventure and team building. The settings for rafting and zip-lining are especially beautiful as tours are embedded in the hills and mountains and the scenery combines with an adrenaline rushing activity to make for a memorable experience.
The Deerfield River has several whitewater rafting and kayak outfitters that opened their doors over twenty-five years ago when water releases from hydroelectric dams became reliable for recreation. Outfitters use three sections of river that feature mild, moderate and aggressive rapids depending on the gradient in the river that creates the rapids. Groups can choose six to eight person rafts guided by a friendly professional or solo kayaks in the milder sections of river.
Deerfield River rafting trips are paddle trips meaning that all rafters participate in the adventure by paddling and helping the guide maneuver the raft safely through the best parts of the river for splashy fun and excitement. So rafting is a team sport – a fun and willing crew working with an expert guide get the most enjoyment from the river and there is definitely a sense of accomplishment after completing an exciting rapid. Tales are told at lunch or over a post-trip cookout of great effort and teamwork that propelled a team’s raft safely through exciting stretches of river.
There are three outfitters that raft the Deerfield and are also based in the quiet town of Charlemont on the Mohawk Trail.
Crab Apple Whitewater runs trips daily from April through October. Crab Apple’s comfortable base camp sits along the Deerfield and has hosted hundreds of thousands of giddy rafters since 1989. Crab Apple’s family business is built on friendly fun and excitement brought by a staff of personable and knowledgeable guides. Crab Apple hosts group tours throughout its season and groups include schools, summer camps, tour companies and corporate groups.
Zoar Outdoor was an original outfitter opening in 1989 and has a full service base camp along the Deerfield. Zoar includes a large and friendly whitewater staff that lead rafting adventures and kayak lessons on the Deerfield and other local rivers. The staff, trained with excellent safety records and state-of-the-art rafting equipment, has years of experience guiding beginners to experts down mellow floats to Class IV thrillers. Zoar’s Outfitter Shop is packed with the latest kayaking gear for all levels of experience. Delicious homemade meals and convenient lodging facilities help create a memorable whitewater rafting adventure for you and your friends or family.
Moxie Outdoor Adventures came to the Deerfield River valley in the late 1990’s and is based at Berkshire East Ski Area. Moxie’s orange rafts are their signature as they plunge through the waves of the Deerfield. Rafting and funyaking trips vary from mild to wild. Moxie provides everything you will need for your trip: state of the art self bailing rafts, fun and professional guides, meals, lodging and camping. From first time families to whitewater fanatics, the Deerfield River offers a rafting trip for all!
In recent years as second major outdoor activity began along the Deerfield River – zip lining. Also known as canopy tours, Zoar Outdoor and Berkshire East Canopy Tours set up impressive and unique tours within a mile of each other and both host many groups who want to see the Deerfield valley from a unique perspective. Both tours include several zip lines and unique access to their tours. Zoar Outdoor carries excited groups to the first line on awesome four wheelers while Berkshire East accesses its long zip lines from their ski chair lift. After arriving at the first zip lines in groups of 8-12, zippers move from one line to another and also encounter short hikes, climbs and rappels. Groups love the excitement of zipping and the thrill of overcoming the hesitation before the first zip. Each group member experiences the same tour but processes the excitement in a unique way that is discussed for hours after the final slide across a zip line.