Ashuelot, New Hampshire, US
|Usual Difficulty||III-IV (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||64 fpm|
|Max Gradient||90 fpm|
|ASHUELOT RIVER NEAR GILSUM, NH|
|usgs-01157000||260 - 1700 cfs||III-IV||01h15m||164 cfs (too low)|
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.
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
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.
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.