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Difficulty III-IV
Length 5.3 Miles
Gauge ASHUELOT RIVER NEAR GILSUM, NH
Flow Range 260 - 1700 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 4 weeks ago 313 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 05/01/2018 8:52 pm

River Description


Thanks to Allan Berggren for the following information

The Ashuelot is the quintessential "step-up-to-Class III" stream. It has 3-ft. drops, sometimes in complex, with plenty of recovery pools. It has, in addition, a Class IV Surprise at the top and a IV- gorge at the bottom (at low levels). At splashing 7 on the Gilsum gauge, Surprise has monster holes, and the gorge goes thrashing around a corner, splits over a knife-edge, etc., etc. What remained was four miles of quite continuous Class IV action, with big holes, sometimes 3/4 the width of the stream, and complex pourover-mixmaster combos which made us shift from "let's find a feature" mode to something more timid--"maybe I can afford to catch the edge of this hole, curl the edge of that drop." I have just bought an Ultraclean-- However, in this water, the decks are constantly awash, and the ends rarely out of water. I found myself slicing through the far side of holes going downstream, being frequently held in suspension over drops, buried in bubbles up to my navel, and having to paddle briskly leaning foreward to avoid being backendered more than I already was. Ryan found the run at this level a memorable experience, and it was a kick to see him disappear over standing waves, ledge drops, and to see him struggle through the 10-yd foam piles in the narrow places. One curl thrust me about 5 ft to the right in one shot.

Note: You can avoid the two toughest sections of this river (Surprise and Gilsum gorge)and cut the trip down to 3.5 miles. Put in about 1/2 downstream of Surprise rapid, (you will also avoid some flatwater here). Take out well above the gorge at an old lumber yard on river left. Gilsum gorge is considered class V in very high water and a difficult Class IV+ in high water.

Gilsum Gorge also has a keeper hole at low flow, so all paddlers should be wary and scout this carefully before entering it.

Technical info

Put in elevation........1069'
Take out elevation......731'
Total drop..............338'
Average drop/mile.......64'.......Including Surprise and Gilsum gorge
Distance................5.3 miles
1st mile drop...........52'......Includes Surprise rapid
2nd mile drop...........30'
3rd mile drop...........75'
4th mile drop...........69'
5th mile drop...........85'......Includes upper Gulsum gorge
5.3 mile drop...........27'......(90' average) includes lower Gilsum gorge
River width average.....25'
River geology...........Small to medium schist boulders, some ledges 
River water quality.....Good, clarity average
Scenery.................Nice river valley usually within view of 
                        route 10, a few homes on the banks.  
Wildlife................Occasional deer, hawks

 

Directions


Put in

From Keene NH to NH state route 10/12/9 north.
Approximately 3 miles take a left (north) on NH 10.
Approximately 10 miles look for Surprise rapid on your left shortly after crossing over the Marlow town line.
 

Take out

Head back south on NH 10 approximately 3 miles.
Park and take out shortly after the first or second river crossings (first one easier).
If you are running Gilsum gorge, take a right at the Gilsum bridge 1.25 miles until the river comes into view with a private bridge crossing.

Rapid Descriptions

Comments

Gauge Description


This section of the Ashuelot lies above the Surry mountain flood control dam and therefore is a natural flow river.
The USGS gauge is located below this flood control dam 6 miles downstream from the take out, therefore it should only be used as reference since the Army Corps of Engineers could be discharging more or holding back water for flood control. To get a more accurate reading on the flow go to Army Corps of Engineers Ashuelot tabular data and look at the last reading under the "inflow cfs" heading. It is estimated you will need at least 430 cfs for a scratchy run. The usual gage for this section is on an outside staff of an abandoned USGS gage building just upstream on river right of the stone arch bridge entrance to Gilsum gorge. People with good eyesight or a pair of binoculars can read the level from the river left bank.

Gilsum gorge    Surry Lake
visual gauge    Inflow cfs     Interpretation

   ~4.4           ~430            Minimum
   <4.8           ~480            Scratchy
   <5.1           ~560            Low
   <5.4           ~700            Low to medium  
   <5.9           ~900            Medium
   <6.4           ~1200           Medium high    
   >6.4           ~1500           High
Thanks to Will Kranz for the information used to develop this table.

 

Note: As a result of the two hundred-year-flood events in the fall of 2006 and spring of 2007 the riverbed near the gage has changed.The table above appears to no longer be valid. New observations will be posted as they are accumulated.

 

Date/Time        Gilsum Gorge    Surray Lake         Interpretation
                 visual gage     Inflow cfs

6-Apr-08 4PM      ~4.7            785 (FS 10cfs/hr)   Medium

(FR=Falling Rapidly, FS=Falling Slowly, S=Steady, RS=Rising Slowly,
RR=Rising Rapidly)

 

 


Estimated chance (%) of finding the river runnable.

Month............% chance.................comment 

January ............ 0%....frozen. 
February.............0%....frozen
March................20%....Usually frozen. 
April...............70%....Best chance 
May ................25%....Best chance in early May with rain. 
June.................8%
July.................5% 
August...............5%....Just a trickle
September...........10%....Tropical storms and their remains 
October........�....20%
November............35%....Fall rains, dormant trees 
December............30%....River starts freezing about Christmas. 

Be aware this is averaged out over several years. The % chance refers to the probability of finding the river running on any given day. For instance a 5% probability for August means on average you can only expect 1-1/2 days of water. One year there could be 3 days in August with water, other years none. Spring levels are usually higher than fall levels.

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Directions Description


We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

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