The Smith River in central NH is a steep, spring runoff river. This section parallels the old route 104 (Smith River Road) which has long since been bypassed by the new route 104. In winter/early-spring, it is usually plowed just past a bridge over the river, which is the normal put in. Early in the season you may wish to carry (or drag over the snow) upstream a little to access one of the good drops on the river. Some people prefer a little warm up and will drive the extra half mile upstream on Smith River Road (or, if it is snowed in, the new route 104). Access the river at a left turn on Smith River Road (once again only plowed up to the last residence on the road).
The run is continuous from the put in. The most difficult rapid is located just upstream from the Cass Mill Road bridge. Ray's Rapid can be sneaked on a small channel on river left, but is often choked with logs and ice early in the season. The river slackens a little after the bridge.
While the listing name suggests Cass Mill Road as the take out, more usually boaters continue to a clearing formed by some overhead power lines. (From the road, you will be able to see the river in the valley.) Optionally you can continue two additional miles downstream to the take out at Berry Road bridge. This part of the river is mostly class II with a few strainers to avoid. (See additional listing.)
Interstate 93 to exit 23 (NH 104).
Left (west) on NH 104 through the town of Bristol approximately 9 miles.
Left at Cass Mill road.
Take a right at the intersection just before the bridge over the Smith.
Approximately 1-1/4 miles park on the right after another bridge over the Smith.
Put in upstream of the bridge.
Head back and through the intersection with Cass Mill Road.
Approximately 1/2 of a mile past this intersection park by some overhead power lines.
Paddled the Smith today at 5.0ft.
Confirmed the tree that was previously in Rays is gone. No other wood of note as far as the powerlines.
2013 April: Smith is clear of wood from intersection of old Smith River Rd & Murray Hill Rd (43.54076, -71.82057) to the power line easement after Cass Mill Rd (43.56112, -71.78730), including both routes around the island - Ray's Rapid - approaching Cass Mill Rd and Class II, except for Ray's Rapid (III), @3.82' on the Bristol gauge.
UNNAMED FALLS: We cannot find previous discussions of an unnamed waterfall and rapids farther downstream, "Pre-file Falls"(?) [IV-V] running from the bridge at the intersection of Smith River Rd and Borough Rd (43.56112, -71.78730), to a take-out on Smith River Rd (43.569134, -71.738051) opposite a wide, distinctively cleared yard on the south (right) bank of the Smith. These drops significantly precede Profile Falls farther downriver. Both Profile and Prefile Falls clear of wood 4/19/2013 and runnable @3.82' on the Bristol gauge.
wondering if anyones run it all the way to pemi
The Smith river was paddled (post Irene) on September 10th and found to be clear of debris and without any noticable change in river features with one exeption. There is a river wide strainer on the left channel of the Cass Mill rd to Berry road section. A short portage on the left is necessary or take the narrow bypass channel (also on the left) if it looks clear.
Profile falls downstream of the takeout looks unrunnable. cllass 5 lead in to a class 6 drop.
The Smith is generally a spring runoff river normally run in late March and early April. It occasionally comes up in late spring and early summer after heavy rains. There is a hand painted gauge river left on the upstream abutment at the Cass Mill road bridge just below Ray's Rapid. There has been bridge reconstruction recently so the old gauge was destroyed and a new paddlers gauge was painted on the new abutment. Currently boulders are piled up in front of the gauge making it difficult to read. The USGS gauge is currently the best resource for levels on this river. A gauge correlation between the new USGS gauge and the old hand painted gauge is shown below.
Thanks to Tim Driscoll for this information.
Bristol CFS Cass Mill Rd Interpretation
4.0 388 -.1 Minimum
4.1 423 0.0 Very Low
4.15 441 .1
4.2 460 .2 |---------------|
4.25 480 .3
4.3 500 .4 Low
4.35 520 .5
4.4 540 .6
4.45 561 .7 |---------------|
4.5 581 .8
4.6 623 .9
4.7 666 1.0 Medium
4.8 710 1.1
4.9 755 1.2
5.0 799 1.3 |---------------|
5.1 844 1.4 High
5.3 940 1.5
5.5 1030 1.6
5.6 1080 1.7 |---------------|
5.8 1190 1.8 Very high
Note: Some people do run the river all the way down to 3.75'
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.
3rd or 4th good one
Top of Rays
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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.
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