Gale River, New Hampshire, US
Franconia to Ammonoosuc
||II-IV (for normal flows)
Gale river source
Gale river sourcePhoto of Mt Lafayette by Mark Lacroix taken 04/11/02 @ Low to medium
The Gale is a beautiful northern NH river. The river starts out class II and picks up in
intensity as a boater heads downstream. The first mile is class II, the second mile is class
II-III, the last mile is the class IV gorge section. The last mile is the toughest as the river
cuts a deep narrow gorge through an old basalt lava dike. The change in geology is responsible
for the ledgy nature of the gorge section. The gorge contains several class IV ledge drops.
Put in elevation........850'
Take out elevation......650'
River width average.....70'
River geology...........Medium to large granite boulders,
basalt schists ledge at the gorge
River water quality.....excellent, clarity good.
Scenery.................excellent northern spruce/fir forest scenery,
river is wild and isolated.
Wildlife................Deer, hawks, moose, merganzers, coyotes.
Interstate 93 to exit 38 (Franconia).
Left at the end of the ramp towards Franconia.
Right on NH 116 north at the stop sign.
1.3 miles take a left on Streeter Pond Road.
2/3rds of a mile take a left over the truss bridge on Crane Hill Road (dirt).
2/3rds of a mile past the open field into the woods park where the river comes close to the road.
Head back to Streeter Pond Road.
Take a left after the bridge.
Approximately 3 miles take a left on Sherman road.
Approximately 1/2 mile park on the rail trail just before the bridge over the Ammonoosuc River.
The Gale enters the Ammo about 1/8 of a mile downstream from this point. Carry up along the rail
Comments From Jeff Swett:
Lead by Butch Mixon, the group included myself, Mike Rock, Eric Mixon and Bitch's son-in-law
The level was 2 on the bridge gauge, very high. We had a nice float to the first ledge when all
hell broke loose. Chris and Eric swam, I thought about it while hoping the recirc wave would spit
me out while I was still in the Kayak. (it did). We got everyone and every thing to shore and
Chris & Eric decided to hike out. I'm not sure they had the easier path but they had
a nice walk, ( or as Eric called it the portage from hell) all uphill to hear them
tell it, and they emerged about 1/2 way between the cars at the put in and the trucks at the take
Butch, Mike & I paddled carefully down stream, aware that there is suppose to be a
"river wide hole" somewhere in or near a gorge. After one false sighting we found
not one but 3 river wide holes. One that could have been run if you had lived a clean
life and Angels routinely clear your path. The other two where in the gorge, there may have
been a sneak route but it would have been very dicey for our group. We hiked up
and around the gorge, not a bad walk but not a walk in the park either. We put in
looking down stream at something that looked a bit nasty but easily portaged. After scouting
the nasty looking rapid, I believe it was Lava, Butch ran it with his usual grace and style
while Mike and I walked our boats around, caught up to Butch and quickly floated to the
confluence of the Ammo and the take out.
I really want to do this river again at a more reasonanble level. The gorge is runnable but it
wasn't our turn to do so today. Lava clearly was runable.
Comments from Butch Nixon:
This was my first time to the Gale River below Franconia and a pretty river it is! If you choose
to do it at high water, be aware that the rating of this river would increase by a full
grade of difficulty from a 2-3-4 to a 3-4-5....The first difficult drop, Streeter Ledge, is
mostly riverwide from what I could see while chasing swimmers and gear downstream. I
would advise a full effort to stop and scout rather than a read-and-run on the fly as I did.
After Chris and Erik left the river, Mike, Jeff, and I did a lot of eddyhopping, determined to
not paddle blindly into the gorge. It was a good plan: the first drop did have a narrow line on
the far left, but the consequences of going into this large recirculating hole looked like
it could ruin your day, maybe your life. After a short pool, the river dropped through
two strong riverwide holes in succession. A good day to walk the gorge! Downstream at the next
big horizon line, Lava had some megaholes, but they could be avoided with a carefully chosen
line. I agree with Jeff with wanting to come back to the Gale at lower water flows,
hoping the gorge would be more runnable. AND that it would be more suitable for leading down a
class 2-3 paddler! (Good effort, Chris!)
More info under the Flows tab
StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2018-05-01 22:40:08