Ellis - Route 16 to Jackson Golf Course

Ellis, New Hampshire, US


Route 16 to Jackson Golf Course

Usual Difficulty III-IV (for normal flows)
Length 6 Miles

At The Crux of Ellis River Gorge

At The Crux of Ellis River Gorge
Photo of Ginger Cox by Mike Gatewood

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-01064300 140 - unknown cfs III-IV cfs

River Description

From Mike Gatewood:
The river is narrow (15' - 30') for most of the run. It was very creek-like, with lots of rocks to avoid, quick decisions to be made, and 2-3' and higher drops everywhere. The upper section called Crazy Rapids is solid class V even at low levels. From the put-in, Commencement Rapids (class IV-V) starts out with a bang. I actually put-in just below Commencement Rapids where the river becomes more class III-IVish. After about 0.5 miles there is a small class V gorge. (See photos.)
After this rapid, the river continues for about 5 miles and is full of class III-IV drops. At the low level that we ran at, the river was not pushy, therefore less intimidating to me, and was pretty scratchy most of the way. There is one short section of class II scraping about half way down the run. You can take out at the Jackson Golf Course or continue for another 0.5 miles or so to the dam. Overall, I really enjoyed this river. Last fall, my girlfriend and I mountain biked along some trails that follow the river and were able to scout some of it, in the winter we cross-country skied along the river, in the spring we finally got to run it. The Ellis is very hard to catch at a paddleable level. We caught a window were the river ran for a couple of days; when we went back the following weekend, it was too low. If there is a few inches of rain the river will run for a day or two at the most, and spring running depends upon the melt from Mt. Washington.
I kind of see it as three put-ins for the Ellis depending upon how much class V you want to do. Lessels' and Gabler's guide lists the start of the run at Commencement Rapids. The putin for Commencement Rapids (class IV-V) is about 1 mile after the Dana Place Inn on Rt. 16 N, there is a paved pull-off/picnic area with trails down to the river. If you want to avoid Commencement Rapids you can put-in at the bridge 0.5 miles past Dana Place; this is where I put in. Or if you want the full dose of the Ellis you can put in ~1.8 miles past Dana Place where the gauge is and Run Crazy Rapids (class V) as well as Commencement Rapids.
StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2009-04-29 23:18:02


Rapid Descriptions

icon of message No rapids entered. If you know names, and locations of the rapids please contact and advise the StreamTeam member for this run.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
October 4 2011 (2362 days ago)
jacquese (151921)
Post Irene Update. Carl F and I ran the Upper Ellis from Dana Place down to the Jackson covered
bridge on Sunday Oct 2nd. The level was 1.4 ft at the start and 2.8 ft by the time we finished. The
river is currently free of strainers. The run was very challenging and involved some very technical
moves. This was a very fun/technical Class 3-4 run. I would say that the run at the level we ran it
was mostly a solid Class 4. Steve Jacques, Bartlett, NH
October 4 2011 (2362 days ago)
jacquese (151921)
Post Irene Update. Carl F and I ran the Lower Ellis from the Dam below Timmy's bridge to the Saco
on Friday September 30. The run was clear of strainers. The run seemed to have become more playful
with more surfing opportunities. Nice technical Class 3 run. Lots of fun. Steve Jacques, Bartlett,
September 5 2011 (2391 days ago)
Mark LacroixDetails
On August 28th, 2011 Hurricane Irene struck New England. The resulting floods caused extensive
damage throughout the region, the worst in over 100 years. More than half the rivers in Vermont and
northern New Hampshire recorded their highest flow levels ever. Many roads, guardrails, power
lines, bridges, trees and other debris now litter several rivers throughout the region. River beds
have been scoured and changed course, many new strainers make navigation problematic at best and
downright dangerous at worse. Please realize that the river description you see here may not match
current situation after the floods. Use common sense and when in doubt scout especially on blind
drops. Also, if you run this river in the next year or so please comment on its navigability, even
if there are no problems this will be very helpful. Please report any new strainers or changes to
the rapids that will impact future boating. Thank you,

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