Put in elevation........1417'
Take out elevation......751'
1st mile drop...........46'
2nd mile drop...........118'
3rd mile drop...........46'
4th mile drop...........95'
5th mile drop...........118'
6th mile drop...........122'
7th mile drop...........95'
7.8 mile drop...........26'
River width average.....25'
River geology...........small to medium granite boulders
River water quality.....Good, clear except for quick runoff periods. Small sewage
treatment plant at put in.
Scenery.................Good to excellent mountain and forest scenery. Route 49
occasionally visible along the river.
Wildlife................Occasional deer, moose, hawks
On route 49, Mad River Tavern: Good food moderate price. Pizza and subs available at the Lower Village store on route 175. Take a right after the lights.Lodging:
Expensive hotels and condos available in Waterville Valley. Scandinavian Inn located at exit 28. Several Bed and Breakfast establishments. Less expensive motel located at exit 27.Campgrounds:
Campton campground, located on route 49 about 2 miles from exit 28, is run by the National Forest Service is open year round has some open group sites and nice wooded tent and small camper sites with picnic tables, modern outhouses, pump water, no electricity.
Osceola campground also run by the National Forest is located on the east end of Tripoli road (exit 31) near Waterville valley. Open May to November, open sites with views of the surronding valley. Picnic tables, modern outhouses, pump water, no electricity.
Branch Brook campground located on route 49 west of exit 28 is a familly campground with water and electric hookups for campers.Gas:
There are several gas stations right at the exit but it is expensive. The further south on 93 you get gas the less expensive it is. Exit 20 in Tilton (30 miles south) has the cheapest gas in the region.Etc.
Waterville Valley has is a recreational town with many hiking trails to six 4000 foot peaks surrounding the valley. You can also find skiing, mt biking, golf, etc. within the valley.
Outback Kayak located 12 miles north in Lincoln is the only full service kayak shop in the region. Some limited supplies might be available at Ski Fanatics at Campton Plaza immediately off exit 28.
Interstate 93 to exit 28. State route 49 east for approximately 10 miles.
Take a left at the Waterville Valley ski area access road.
1/4 mile take a right by the gas station/country store (Mountain Petroleum).
Drive up to the recycling area just past the store.
The put-in is down a steep bank on the left.
There are other possible put-ins upstream from this point, chech a map for other alternatives.
Head back in the direction you came on route 49.
6 miles at Upper Mad river road is one possible take out.
8 miles at Goose Hollow (where rt 49 crosses river.
8.5 miles at "The Eddy" White Mountain national forest recreation area.
Note: At the first and Last locations stated above, it will be necessary to have a White Mountain National Forest parking sticker . These can be purchased at the information center just off the exit for rt 49.
8 years ago
by Mark Lacroix
Note: The gauge refered to in this section is a virtual "regional" gauge. It is in a nearby watershed but the proximity of the gauge and the river characteristics are similar. These gauges work best in the spring or wide area rain events. Do not rely on this gauge for localized rain events such as summertime thunderstorm activity. Current minimum run level for this stretch is still to be verified (see table below). There is a hand painted gage on a rock at six mile bridge (Upper Mad river road). It is located on river left just under the upstream edge of the bridge.
Level Painted gauge USGS EB gauge (CFS)
Minimum 1.3 830
Scratchy <1.6 1200
Low <1.8 1530
Low to medium <2.1 2060
Medium <2.5 2870
Mdium high <2.8 3600
Too high......>above gage rock
Estimated chance (%) of finding the river runnable.
January ............ 0%....Frozen.
April...............35%....Best chance in late April
May ................25%....Best chance in early May.
August...............3%....Just a trickle
September............3%....Lowest water month
November............20%....Fall rains, dormant trees
December............20%....River starts freezing early in month.
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 3% probability for September means on average you can only expect 1 day of water. One year there could be 2 days in September with water, other years none. Spring levels are usually higher than fall levels. The river rises and falls rapidly because of the small steep watershed. An occasional summer storm could bring the river up for a couple hours.
Building a "Virtual" gauge for the Mad
In the table below visual observations have been matched with actual USGS gauge readings from the East Branch USGS. This is an attempt to build a Virtual gauge for the Mad. Virtual gauges work best during spring runoff and widespread rain events but should not be relied upon for localized rain events such as thunderstorm activity. Once enough observations have been matched with the USGS gauge readings, we will determine which USGS gauge readings best matches the Mad river's runoff profile.
Gauge correlations for the Mad river Thornton NH
6 mile bridge
East Branch USGS
*RR=rising rapidly RS=rising slowly S=steady FR=falling rapidly FS=falling slowly
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
Mad River strainer
Put in damage
Bike bridge displaced
Rt 49 damage
Smarts Brook rapid from above
Will at Ho Hum rapid
Will at Landslide falls
Welch Mt. from Mad river
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
Northeast boaters can celebrate that another beloved whitewater gem has been protected. Paddlers on the Winnipeseaukee River are now assured that the put-in on the Lower Winni in Northfield, NH will be forever protected thanks to the donation of a parcel from Gloria Blais in memory of her husband Roger. Gloria donated the land to the Town of Northfield for the purpose of assuring that future generations of boaters will have access to the river. Protecting river access to the Winni is part of an ongoing effort by AW in the northeast region to protect river access.
A hardy group of northeast boaters climbed into the natural river channel below a hydropower dam to participate in a flow study designed to assess whether whitewater flows should be restored to this dewatered river reach on the Connecticut River. While significant obstacles remain, this site has the potential for providing instruction, playboating, and a big water feature that that could be run throughout much of the year and provide a much needed boost to the local economy.
American Whitewater and Merrimack Valley Paddlers have reached an agreement to purchase a 10-acre parcel fronting on Contoocook River in Henniker, NH. The land serves as an important launch point for whitewater paddlers enjoying the popular section of the river that runs from Hillsborough to Henniker. This section of the Contoocook River contains rapids ranging in difficulty from Class II to Class IV.
Log into the American Whitewater website and you can contribute to river descriptions,
flow and access tips, and maps associated with runs you've done. You can even add new
runs to the inventory!