Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire, US
|Usual Difficulty||III+ (varies with level)|
|Avg. Gradient||80 fpm|
|Max Gradient||90 fpm|
|WINNIPESAUKEE RIVER AT TILTON, NH|
|usgs-01081000||400 - 2800 cfs||III||00h28m||877 cfs (running)|
The lower Winnipesaukee (The "Winnie") is a popular run in southern New Hampshire, just 90 minutes from Boston and offers excellent paddling at nearly all flows throughout the year. Clear water, quality rapids, and an easy shuttle provide for easy laps that are appropriate for intermediate and advanced boaters alike.
As of late 2017, there is a new parking area available at the putin on Cross Mill Road, made by the generous support and activity of American Whitewater.
Winnipesaukee River Days 2018
The first annual whitewater festival in downtown Franklin will be held June 22-June 24th. The festival will coincide with a recreational release on both sections of the Winnie. Come and support the town and paddling community. More information on events can be found at the Winni River Days website.
This year the we will continue to press for the Winnipesaukee Recreational plan. The New
Hampshire Department of Environmental Services is in the process of creating a Lake / River
management plan that will affect flows on the river.
Winnipesaukee Recreational Plan: Info at: Winni Proposal We need backing on this from the paddling community. We are looking for summertime releases on this river and this event will help publicize our request.
The Winnipesaukee river was a heavily used industrial river in the early 20th century. The upper Merrimack Valley was considered the bread basket of New Hampshire about a century ago. Wheat and other grains grown in the Franklin region was transported to several grist mills that were built on the banks of the Winnipesaukee river. Dams were built to harness the mechanical power for turning grinding wheels that turned the grain into flour. There are still several grinding stones that can be seen along the river bank. They are about 4' in diameter with a hole in the middle and what looks like spokes ground in the granite stone. Those mills are now mostly gone with trees replacing the scenery. The dams were eventually knocked out one by one by the force of nature. There are no fewer than 7 dam sites along this short stretch of river. In the early 90's local boating clubs organized several cleanup days during low water in August. Log cribbing, rebar, and other trash were removed to make for a safer run.
This river continues to draw more boaters every year. It is also the location for the traditional New Years Day run organized by the Merrimack Valley Paddlers. An event that always gets alot of local press.
Put in elevation........390' Take out elevation......290' Total drop..............100' Average drop/mile.......80' Distance................1.25 miles River width average.....60' River geology...........Small to medium schist and granite boulders, many of which are unatural blocks cut for buildings and dams. River water quality.....Good in spring fair latter in Summer, clarity fair to good. Scenery.................Fair, remains of early 20th century industrial age being reclaimed by forest, up to seven old dam sites with some log cribbing and some rebarr, two delapated factories. Wildlife................Deer, Weasels, Merganzers, Blue herons.
After many years of planning, fundraising and meetings the town of Franklin New Hampshire has
finally completed the new riverside park at the Lower Winnipesaukee River takeout. The park
located on 2 acres of land at the takeout of the lower Winnipesaukee River features a river level
take out ramp, grass, trees, and a 11-1/2 ton 15 foot diameter industrial flywheel that was used
in a mill just a quarter mile downstream from the park. This flywheel is the centerpiece of the
park and will probably become the most recognized landmark in Franklin in the near future. A
bathroom/changing room is now complete.
The park is a culmination of wide ranging efforts from the town of Franklin, The Friends of the Winnipesaukee, the Grevoir family, American Whitewater and the Merrimack Valley Paddlers. It was built on land donated by the Grevoir family who are the owners of Grevoir Furniture, which abuts the park. Fundraising efforts for the park continue, they are having a fundraiser to help pay for the town's portion of the new park.
For an overall river map click here:
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|0.0||Map of the Lower Pemi region|
|0.6||Coliseum (aka Three Chimneys, Z-turn, Arches)||III+|
|1.1||Zippy's Final Plunge (Zippy's)||IV|
Easy rapids ending at a large pyramid shaped rock with an iron ring at the top. When you view this rock take out downstream on river left to scout Colloseum.
The most dangerous rapid on the river. About a third of the river volume channels to river right into the basment of a delapataded mill building (The Room of Doom) it then passes through the old discharge arches that are usually clogged with debris such as trees. "The Room of Doom" is full of rebar and log cribbing, it also contains 4 vertical penstocks 5' in diameter one of which still sucks water through creating a visible wirlpool at low water levels. The discharge for the tube is probably under the rock pile in the middle of the river. The usual run starts from river right then cuts across toward river left. After a boulder strewn drop the river heads directly into a stone wall then takes a hard right. The whole run is very short but tricky. There is an eddy just above the Coliseum on river right with a high penalty surfing wave. There is also an eddy river left just before the rock wall (some rebar here at low water). Follow the Z pattern through this rapid. If you try and cut off the corner and run the center channel you will end up in a dangerous boulder sieve. Below 1000 cfs Coliseum is less pushy therefore only class III. Scout this drop.
Also see the Coliseum map
At high water (>1500cfs)Coliseum and Railroad merge into one rapid and should be considered IV or even IV+. Just upstream from the railroad bridge there are several large holes to punch or manuever around. The esiest route is to start on river left then move into an eddy just above the railroad bridge. If you run this route you are commited to running the right channel seperated by the bridge abutement. There is a 3' vertical drop into a hole directly under the bridge. If you want to avoid this drop, skip the eddy on your way down and run left of the abutement. This route is difficult to maintain because the currernt tries to push to the right.
Immediately below the Sulphite railroad bridge the river cuts through a break in another old dam, this time on the right. At higher water (>900 cfs)there is an interesting chute with a flat rock ski jump on the left of what remains of this old log crib dam, but be careful since debris often lodges in this narrow passage. On river right just below the break in the dam there is a nice eddy on river right with a good surf wave at higher water levels. Below this eddy Sulphite rapid starts. River left is generally shallow and impassable at medium to low water. A hole at the top of the drop can be skirted to the left. The current then forces paddlers to river right through heavy turbulance, small holes and overhanging tree branches (watch your paddle). There are a couple micro eddies on the right that allow access to some nice surfing waves within the wavetrain. The rapid then opens up to a wide section of river that has only a couple large holes to avoid just right of river center. Sulphite ends at an eddy on river left just below a almost river wide hole that offers some rough play. At high water there may not be any noticable break between Sulphite and Zippy's.
There is a medium sized eddy on river left just above Zippy's and below Sulphite. There is also a good (but sometimes rough) play hole at this spot. Downstream the river makes a gradual right hand turn and gets more difficult as you run through. Run river center and catch the eddies behind the rocks which are located about every 50 yards apart just left of center. This will allow you to control your speed and do a bit of boat scouting from the eddy. After the last boulder you will see a horizon line at river center, peal out and head directly down the center channel but be prepared to manuever left or right to thread yourself through the easiest part of the hole below the drop. Downstream from this point the river passes under another railroad bridge with abutements at an angle to the current. This angle results in a sudden shift in current direction that you must be aware of. There are three abutements with five channels. The two channels on either bank are usually clogged with debris so they must be avoided. The second channel from the left bank is usually the easiest. With higher water the middle channel is passible and with higher water still all three channels are passible. Takeout river left just below the drop. Make sure you scout this rapid from the takeout before you run. Debris sometimes lodges on the abutements and may cut off a channel. Also if you are paddling during the winter months, ice shelves can form on the abutements and in the calm water below the drop sometimes all the way across the river. If you are paddling in high water (>1800cfs), this section should be considered class IV-IV+. At levels above 2400 cfs the current can rise up above the abutements and sieve through the wooden bidge supports also the current leads right up to a verticle unrunable dam. Many boats and paddles have been lost over this dam but luckily no people. In low to medium water avoid running near either bank. There are many pinning rocks on river left and a possibillity of strainers on river right.
Also see the Zippy's map