Ashuelot - 3. Lower Ash

Ashuelot, New Hampshire, US


3. Lower Ash (Ashuelot to Hinsdale)

Usual Difficulty II-IV (for normal flows)
Length 3.5 Miles
Avg. Gradient 55 fpm
Max Gradient 80 fpm

Lower Ash put in

Lower Ash put in
Photo of Bershire AMC by Mark Lacroix taken 05/02/04 @ 1100 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-01161000 4.50 - 7.00 ft II-IV 00h20m 4.76 ft (running)

River Description

Technical info

Put in elevation........430'
Take out elevation......239'
Total drop..............191'
Average drop/mile.......55'
Distance................3.5 miles
River width average.....85'
River water quality.....Poor to fair, water clarity fair.
Scenery.................poor in spots, a few factories along the way. 


Put in

From Keene NH take NH route 10 south for approximately 13 miles. Take a right onto NH route 119. About 2 miles to the put in just upstream and river right from the Ashuelot covered bridge.
From Interstate 91 in Vermont take exit 2 onto route 9 into downtown Brattleboro. Take a right then follow the signs to NH 119. Follow NH 119 approximately 8 miles to the put in.

Take out

From the put in take NH 119 west 3.5 miles into downtown Hinsdale. Look for a small dirt parking area next to the river. The new owner of the warehouse at the take-out in Hinsdale is friendly to paddlers, but requests that we park head-in by the picknick table, so as not to block a truck backing into a dock at the rear of the building.


The river is broken up into three sections. Each section is seperated by a dam which must be portaged. The upper section is a nice warmup class II. The second gets a little more difficult... up to class III. The last section is the toughest...class III-IV depending on water level. The McGoldrick Dam was removed by the NH Department of Environmental Services in 2002 thereby eliminating one portage on the lower section.
Only two portages left since the other dams have either been washed out or removed. The first portage is between the Class II and III section. The second between the III and IV.

This river holds water very well since it is at the bottom of a huge watershed, it is usually one of the last rivers in New England to be running during the spring.

Video of the Ash at 5.3:

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2018-05-01 20:56:42


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Section 1II
1.6Section 2III
2.2Section 3III+Photo

Rapid Descriptions

Section 1 (Class II)
This is a fine warmup. Put in just upstream of the Ashuelot covered bridge. The run from here is an easy class II for approximately 1.5 miles to the backwater of the first dam. There is a line across the river warning boaters to carry around a dam. Take out on river left by the sign and carry around the dam by the old factory.

Section 2 (Class III, Mile 1.6)
This section has a bit more challenging water. It is also shorter only about a half mile. The best rapid is just above the flatwater as you approach another factory on your left. Once again take out and carry on river left. The put in below the dam is rather steep and difficult among boulders. It helps to have two people to lower boats below.

Section 3 (Class III+, Mile 2.2)

First of the Third

First of the Third
Photo of Mark B by Mark Lacroix taken 05/02/04 @ 1100 cfs

This is the toughest section of river on this trip. Just below the dam you will be passing a paper mill. There is a lot of trash in this area from that mill. Just below the factory bridge is the toughest rapid on the lower Ash. This is Papermill rapid. There is a rather clean straight line through this rapid just right of center. To the left is a series of holes that can swallow an open boat. The rest of this section is continuous class III+ water with little let up.

This section of the river can be easily scouted from the road on river right that you can pick up a mile or a mile and a half downriver from the put in, off of 119.

At 700 CFS (about 4.5 feet), this section is a 2+; at 1000 (4.9 feet), it is a good beginner's class 3.  At 1500 cfs (5.35 ft), the river becomes much pushier.  At this level, Paper Mill Rapid becomes a big water class 3+ to 4, depending on your rating system. 




User Comments

Users can submit comments.
November 5 2017 (401 days ago)
kayakrkayakr (159566)
Some strainers noted today on both banks. Towards the end of the run, below the broken dam (after
an old bridge pillar) there was a tree trunk in the middle of the river.

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