Sawyer River - Livermore

Sawyer River, New Hampshire, US



Usual Difficulty V (for normal flows)
Length 3.5 Miles
Avg. Gradient 190 fpm

Sean on the Sawyer

Sean on the Sawyer
Photo of Sean Quick by Mark Lacroix taken 06/13/02 @ Low

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-010642505 600 - 3000 cfs V 00h59m 192 cfs (too low)

River Description

This run is so good that at least two New England paddling legends have named their first born son after it.  It is characterized by long boulder garden rapids with a few distinct larger drops mixed in for good measure.  At lower flows it is a great condensed collection of class IV+ drops, at higher flows the whole river seems to melt together into one continuous rowdy class V rapid.

Directions and history from: Greg and Sue Hanlon's Steep Creeks of New England, which has more info on this run. Text used with permission.

Park on the North side of Rte. 302 next to the highway bridge which crosses the Sawyer. From late fall through Spring it is necessary to shoulder your boat 3+ miles upstream to the hikers' lot, which is the normal putin. Hey: sometimes you gotta want your whitewater! The dirt road is usually open to the public during the Summer (when there is usually no water.)  Go to the National Forest Services "Forest Road Status" to find out if and when the access road is open.

The first known run of the Sawyer was April 24, 1992, by Boyce Greer, J.J. Valera, Greg Hanlon, Bill and Joan Hildreth after scouting and removing several trees at low water."

Hanlon cautions that the Sawyer tends to collect logs. "Beware!"


The Sawyer River is among the best class V runs in all the northeast.  The continuous steep gradient over and around massive boulders will challenge the best paddlers. 

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2018-05-02 13:36:28


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.1House5.0Putin Photo
0.5Death StarIV+Photo

Rapid Descriptions

House (Class 5.0, Mile 0.1)

Nate Warren at House Rapid

Nate Warren at House Rapid
Photo by Toby Bucsescu taken 06/03/15

House rapid is behind the house on the road up, and is often where people put-in.  Though people used to run the left, after the floods a few years back, the flow has been pushed over to the right side.  The rapid is a large slide into a giant boulder which splits the flow.  Some water goes left down a manky ledge, a little water goes under the rock, and most of the flow goes out right down another, smaller slide.  The bottom of this slide has a hole that tends to keep people who mess up on the upper part of the rapid.  If you keep your bow right throughout the rapid, without drying out on the rock, you should have a great start to the trip down the Sawyer.

Death Star (Class IV+, Mile 0.5)

Nate Warren attacking the Death Star

Nate Warren attacking the Death Star
Photo by Toby Bucsescu taken 06/03/15

After a good section of class IV boogie comes Death Star, a short steep drop with an exploding hole at the bottom which is backed up by an undercut boulder (the Death Star).  Stay in the flow and charge left to right, paddling directly into the boulder (attack the Death Star) to punch the hole, then catch the eddy on the left before entering into the next long boulder garden.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
June 29 2009 (3429 days ago)
Nicholas GottliebDetails
Re: the currently painted gauge on the upstream side of the bridge. Probably the same one you're
referring to. Ran it at almost 4' today, that's really high. Be on your game and be prepared to
portage or at least set safety at least once. 5' is probably nuts, although hard to say for sure.
August 28 2008 (3734 days ago)
Jon LoehrkeDetails
Drove by and noticed a new gauge rock on the Sawyer (26 Aug 2008), river right upstream of the 302
bridge. Looks like 0 is around minimum and 5 is fairly high. Thanks to whomever!

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