This photo needs editing.
Difficulty III
Length 1.4 Miles
Flow Range 400 - 4000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 40 minutes ago 968 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 04/27/2019 11:29 am

River Description

Technical info

Put in elevation........420'
Take out elevation......335'
Total drop..............85'
Average drop/mile.......60'
Distance................1.4 miles
River width average.....35'
River geology...........schists, small boulders, some ledge especially at
                        Horseshoe falls
River water quality.....neutral to good, clarity; neutral to dark.  Some
                        leaching from dump. 
Scenery.................Poor, upper reaches pass dump, lower reaches extend 
                        into the Wilton urban area.  Middle section good.
Wildlife................Occasional deer, merganzers, beaver

Rapid Descriptions


Class - II+ Mile - 0.2
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
This is a long rapid starting just around the bend past the route 101 bridge. The top of the rapid has a nice play spot. Eddy out on river right behind a 1' ledge. Here there is a hole turning more into a wave towards river center. The rest of the rapid picks along the rocks as it passes the Wilton recyling center on your right.

Horseshoe Falls

Class - III Mile - 0.7
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
Horseshoe falls is the toughest rapid on this section. It starts out with a series of ledge drops that can be run anywhere. Down below the river constricts from 40' wide to 18' wide into a narrow box canyon. The transition is by a horseshoe shaped drop. This drop is approximately 6' over a 40' distance. There are two routes the easiest one being far left. If you take the route on far right, catch the right side eddies as you prgress down. This will give you a better view as you scout your next move. There are also a few high penalty surfing waves you can access from these eddies. The bottom ledge does have a fairly large hole towards river center, it may upset you but not likely to hold you in.

Wilton Dam

Class - IV+ Mile - 1
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
This is an "L" shaped dam approximately 8' in hieght. It is usually (and recommended) portaged on river left, however it has been run on the left and far right where there is a small break along a channel of the "L". Usually the boater launches off towards the right avoiding the hydraulic and shallows below. It is usually only deep enough to run in high water but high water also creates a larger hydraulic at the base of the dam. Scout carefully and consider the consequences here, portage if there is any doubt.


default user thumbnail
Kenneth Glusman
10 years ago

Some people ran from the top to Wilton recently at a 3900 CFS level. which was high but not quite in the trees yet. It was pushy and there were some big waves but I would not rate it above a 3 or 3+ until you get to the falls. Big stuff there; try to eddy out above and observe before running. Trash dump was partially washed out, so less tricky than at lower levels, but moving very fast. The real issue was overhanging branches, of which there were many. With fast moving water you have to be watching carefully all the time to avoid getting stuck. The river is largely free of blockage thanks to public spirited boaters who cleared it out recently, but there can always be a new strainer and with this high speed current it would not be fun to hit one, so extra care is required.

Gage Descriptions

Note: USGS added a new gage on the Souhegan in the summer of 2008 about 2 miles downstream of the takeout in Milford.  This new gage a much better indicator of levels on the upper Souhegan than the Merrimack gage.  We will need to gather more information over time to correlate the gage to runable levels, however the 400 cfs level should be fairly accurate. It is a good indicator of how high the level might of been about 18
hours prior. The painted gage on the Upper Souhegan about 5 miles upstream is what is commonly used. If the upper section is running the lower will be also. Usually it can be run at a slightly lower level than the upper section can be run at.


Estimated chance (%) of finding the river runnable.
Month............% chance.................comment

January ............ 5%....Usually frozen
February............10%....Usually frozen.
March...............40%....Opens up about mid month.
April...............70%....Best chance in early April 
May ................30%....Best chance in early May. 
August...............5%....Just a trickle 
September...........15%....Tropical storms and their remains
November............40%....Fall rains, dormant trees 
December............35%....River starts freezing about Christmas.

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 5% probability for August means on average you can only expect 1-1/2 days of water. One year there could be 3 days in August 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 day.

Directions Description

Put in

From Manchester NH take state route 101 west approximately 25 miles.
Just pass the town of Wilton state route 31 merges with 101 continue west pass this intersection approximately 1.2 miles.
After passing the Wilton recycling center pull into a small parking area on the left just before the bridge over the river.

Take out

Head back in the direction you just came from back to the intersection with route 101/31.
Take a left here on 31 north then take a right on Mill street at the bottom of the hill.
Pull into the parking lot for Label Art manufacturing company on your left.
Park on the downstream side behind the building.

No Accident Reports



article main photo

Protecting Access to New Hampshire Rivers

Robert Nasdor

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.

article main photo

Bellows Falls (VT) Flow Study Reveals Hidden Whitewater

Robert Nasdor

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. 

article main photo

AW, MVP Protect Land and Access on the Contoocook River (NH)

Robert Nasdor

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.


Mark Lacroix


Skip Morris


Alex Barham


Peter Ashley


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1192847 09/30/08 Mark Lacroix n/a
1195219 06/01/09 Skip Morris
1195354 06/06/09 Skip Morris
1209449 05/02/18 Alex Barham Location
1212062 04/27/19 Peter Ashley updated stats