Cold Brook - Rte. 25 to Bearcamp River

Cold Brook, New Hampshire, US


Rte. 25 to Bearcamp River

Usual Difficulty V (for normal flows)
Length 1.4 Miles
Avg. Gradient 220 fpm

Backbreaker Falls

Backbreaker Falls
Photo of Dave Livingston by Mark Lacroix taken 03/28/03

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-01079900 4.90 - 8.00 ft V ft
usgs-01064801 350 - 550 cfs V 01h11m 443 cfs (running)
Estimated based on the 75th percentile on the Bearcamp

River Description

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

Directions: from West Ossipee, take Rte. 16 to Rte. 25 West 5.2 miles to South Tamworth. Head left on Bemis Mountain Road just before crossing Cold Brook. Head up the road about a mile, and put in just upstream of the small bridge.
To takeout: head back to Rte. 25 and turn right. Drive about 0.3 miles to a small pull-off on the left. This is the takeout on the Bearcamp River.

Description by Nate Warren: This short but classic class V creek is tough to catch, but well worth the effort when you finally get it.  It is a mile long collection of some of the cleanest and most fun drops, slides and a mini-gorge that can be found in New England.  People use the upstream river right bridge abutment at the put-in as a gauge.  -2 is boat abusing low.  2 is low, 4 is medium.  It has been run up to 18" and possibly higher.  At low levels, this run contains the easiest and most fun class five anywhere.  As the volume goes up, the holes get stickier and the pools between the first few drops start blending together.  That being said, it is easy to set safety for all of the drops except Happy Gorge, even at very high flows.  Many people get out at the Route 25 bridge in town, or paddle down to the Bearcamp to takeout.  WARNING: the last drop, Zig-Zag, has contained wood for the past few seasons (as of 6/14).  It is also by far the least enjoyable drop on the run, which might explain why nobody has bothered to clean it out.

From the put-in bridge are five great IV-V drops.  This is the majority of the whitewater on the run.  If you are scouting, be kind and considerate of the landowners, who have been nice to paddlers up to this point.  The river mellows to class II before splitting around an island.  Be careful here, because as the river comes back together it drops into happy gorge, and there are no good eddies above it.  Getting washed into the gorge would not be ideal.  In the gorge, there are a lot of moves to be made.  When in doubt, stay right.  

Below happy gorge there are a few more class IV rapids.  When the river turns 90 degrees right (then 90 degrees back left), keep your bow pointed downstream and keep driving left to avoid an undercut on the right.  

Soon after, there is a 6' ledge with some cool options for a left boof or just bounce down the right.  When you get to the bridge in town there are a few ledge holes to punch before Zig-Zag and takeout.  Then go run another lap!

A real crappy rapid by rapid video of Cold Brook

Better quality footage, but not all the rapids

Or, Jeremy Laucks crushing it at 18" (real high, V+)

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2018-05-01 21:44:45


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Entrance ExamIV+Putin Photo
0.1Cold FusionIV+Photo
0.2Backbreaker Falls5.0Photo
0.3Particle Accelerator5.0Photo
0.4NO2 Chute5.0Photo
0.6Happy Gorge5.0

Rapid Descriptions

Entrance Exam (Class IV+)

Entrance Exam

Entrance Exam
Photo of Miah by Mark Lacroix taken 03/28/03

A 3'er with a bit of backwash.

Cold Fusion (Class IV+, Mile 0.1)

Cold Fusion

Cold Fusion
Photo of George Feinberg by Mark Lacroix taken 03/28/03

There is a big rock in the middle of the flow.  The standard line is to cut left to right behind the rock, then slide down the right side.

Backbreaker Falls (Class 5.0, Mile 0.2)

Backbreaker Falls

Backbreaker Falls
Photo of Dave Livingston by Mark Lacroix taken 03/28/03

A sloping 10' falls.  Late boof into the pool on the right or charge straight into Particle Accelerator.  Careful: there is a rock hiding underneath on the right that has a tendency to dent bows and hurt ankles.

Particle Accelerator (Class 5.0, Mile 0.3)

Particle Accelerator

Particle Accelerator
Photo of Nate by Mark Lacroix taken 03/28/03

A great, fast slide.  Enter over the rooster tail and hold on.  The hole at the bottom gets sticky at higher flows.

NO2 Chute (Class 5.0, Mile 0.4)

Gabe exiting NOX Chute

Gabe exiting NOX Chute
Photo of Gabe by Mark Lacroix taken 03/28/03

Boof the center hole, paddle into the left wall, paddle into the right wall, boof.  If you get stuck, the first hole is tough to get out of - but many people have ridden out the rest of the rapid on their butts, hurting only their pride.

Happy Gorge (Class 5.0, Mile 0.6)

A scout worthy short gorge immediately after the river splits around an island.  Really fun at low water, really serious at high water.  Slides, bonus eddies, holes and a great boof at the end!

Zig-Zag (Class IV+, Mile 1.0)

A manky fold of rocks with a tendency to collect wood.  Many people take out above.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.

No Comments

Do more than just check gauges; join over 5,000 AW members today.

Or, consider donating