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Difficulty V
Length 1.4 Miles
Flow Range 4.90 - 8.00 FT
Flow Rate as of: 1 second ago N/A
Reach Info Last Updated 05/01/2018 9:44 pm

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+)

Rapid Descriptions

Entrance Exam

Class - IV+ Mile - 0

A 3'er with a bit of backwash.

Cold Fusion

Class - IV+ Mile - 0.1

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

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

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

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
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

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!


Class - IV+ Mile - 1
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

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


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Nathan Warren
8 years ago

The river is still great after Irene. There is wood in the 2 drops below NO2 Chute (drop 4) pool. The wood below happy gorge is mostly gone.

Gage Descriptions

Note: The gauge refered to in this section is a virtual "regional" gauge. It is in a nearby watershed but the proximity of the gauge and the river characteristics are similar. These gauges work best in the spring or wide area rain events. Do not rely on this gauge for localized rain events such as summertime thunderstorm activity. Current minimum run level for this stretch is still to be verified. The visual Gage is located on the river-right abutment footing on the upstream side of the putin bridge. 2" below the footing is minimum; 7" above the footing is a high level.
Check the Bearcamp Gage for an indication of water levels in the area.

Gauge correlations for the  Cold river Tamworth NH



Put in Visual Gage

Shannon Brook USGS

Cold river level Interpretation
3/28/03 1:00 pm 0" 5.25 S* Low

*RR=rising rapidly  RS=rising slowly  S=steady  FR=falling rapidly  FS=falling slowly

Directions Description

Follow Route 25/113 into South Tamworth.  At the intersection with Mountain Road, head downstream (north) 0.1 mile to takeout, or upstream (south) up the hill 0.8 miles to where the road crosses the river.  Put-in here.

No Accident Reports




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Alex Barham


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Matt Muir


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1209405 05/01/18 Alex Barham Location
1203492 06/18/14 Nathan Warren nw
1193072 03/28/03 n/a n/a
1203954 12/23/14 Nathan Warren nw