This photo needs editing.
Difficulty I-II
Length 2.1 Miles
Flow Range 230 - 1950 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 1 hour ago 263 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 05/02/2018 2:45 pm

River Description

New Years Day 20 14       

Once again the Merrimack Valley Paddlers has rented the Universalist Church in Franklin for the NYD Icicle paddle.  The church is located Franklin about 4 miles west of the take out for the upper section, at the other end of Main St. from Trestle View Park.  We provide a warm place to change clothig and a hot meal after the paddle.  The event is, as always, done up right by MVPs executive Chef Nanci with help from Sous chef/AMC trip leader John J.
Come one/all, club membership not required (but expect to get hit up anyway, its only $15/yr.)
BYOB but we usually have hot coffee & cocoa, and rest rooms. 

This is a great training river. It starts out very easy then gets a little harder as you head downstream. The first mile starts out with quickwater that gradually turns into class I. This class I rapid is great for learning ferrying and eddying manuevers. At the railroad bridge, run the middle channel between the abutements. Run the center of the next drop. There is a lot of pinning potential in the rocks downstream of this drop in low water. This drop is class II and II+ above 1000 cfs. The left side of this drop has a hole. You can eddy out just downstream to the left of the hole so you can get the best approach to a nice surfing wave adjacent to it. At the next railroad bridge look out for a pilling sticking out vertically just right of center of the center channel. At 700-800 cfs this pilling is just under the surface and hard to recognize. At lower levels it is obvious and easy to avoid. Just downstream of the bridge is a wide easy surfing wave just before the river splits around a small island with a town park on it. Just past a street bridge downstream, there is a nice wide surfing wave extending out from river right. This one does not have an eddy to serve it so you will need to catch it on the fly. Take out on either side of the river after the next bridge and past the line of restored train cabooses.  River Left is parking for the Winnipeasukee River Trail; River Right has a picnic are and bathrooms in Riverfront Park.

Technical info

Put in elevation........470'
Take out elevation......418'
Total drop..............52'
Average drop/mile.......25'
Distance................2.1 miles
River width average.....60'
River geology...........Small schist boulders
River water quality.....Good in spring fair latter in Summer, clarity fair to good.
Scenery.................Fair, 1st mile forested, last urban with apartments 
                        right up to the rivers edge, some old dam remains with 
                        log cribbing and some rebarr.
Wildlife................Merganzers, Blue herons. 


New Years Day 2012 on the Winni

We are encouraging as many boaters as possible to show up for the New Years paddling event on the WinnipesaukeeRiver in Franklin, Tilton, NorthfieldNH. Not only do you get to paddle with a fine group of people but this is also a major MVP conservation event.

We will be renting the Unitarian Church Hall on

Central St.
in Franklin NH. Take interstate 93 to exit 20. Take a right on NH rt 3, 11 to Franklin approximately 4.5 miles. Going South on Rt 3 (Central St) you go past the Mill Wheel (TrestleViewPark), Past Grevior's Furniture over the Bridge and take a Right into LUCKIE LENNYS Parking Lot the UnitarianChurch is right there! Across from Packer's Outlet. Hall Opens at 9:00 AM. Paddlers can meet there to change and get a quick snack and hot drink before running the river. Shuttle at 10:00 boat at 10:30 Back to Hall for Pot Roast Dinner at 1:00 and back on the road by 4:00 pm!

There are two river sections that will be paddled on New Years Day. The traditional Northfield to Franklin run (class III) starts on
Cross Mill Rd.
in Northfield. This river segment is about 1-1/4 mile long and will take about 30 to 45 minutes to run. For description and directions go to the American Whitewater website at: Lower Winni webpage

The upper section (class I-II) starts out in Tilton just south of the Kentucky Fried Chicken on NH 140. This section is suitable for novice boaters. It is approximately 2 miles long and should take about 45 minutes to an hour to complete. More information including description and directions here: Upper Winni webpage

Please note these are not official trips they are only notification of paddlers meeting locations and times in order to make paddlers aware of a meeting and launch point of “common adventurers”. Each paddler is responsible for his or herself being properly equipped for the conditions to be encountered that day. That means PFD’s, wet suits, dry suits, gloves, helmets, booties, etc. Furthermore, each individual is responsible for their own safety, you should have the skills and physical conditioning to be able to perform or assist in self rescue and not put your fellow paddler in danger by being irresponsible.

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. Make sure you tell the press you are in favor of summer time recreational releases on the WinnipesaukeeRiver

This is a prime opportunity to get our voices heard on this matter. We will get front page news coverage on this, better than sending hundreds of letters to the legislators.

Please show up and support us on this, a huge turn out will be bigger news.

At this time it does look like ice could be a major problem on the rivers this year.  Please be aware of this and scout the problem areas especially the takeouts at the upper and lower rivers.

After the run we will have a pasta dinner served up by Nancy Gero and a few volunteers. Afterwards the MVP will be handing out awards to people who have had a positive impact on our sport. And all this is FREE, the town donates the warming tent at the take out and the MVP (along with a few donors) will be pitching in for the food and drink. The press is there every year and the day after NH New Years day newspapers usually has one of the boaters pictures on the front page.

Non Boaters and boaters from other clubs are welcome. We are asking for a few volunteers to help shuttle, help out in the kitchen and clean up afterwards. 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:


Put in

Directions from the south: Interstate 93 north to exit 20 (Tilton, Laconia) Approximately 1 hour from the Mass NH border. Go straight through the lights at the end of the exit ramp past McDonalds, Burger King, Kentuckey Fried Chicken. Immediately following the J.J. Niesen bread factory on your right, you will pass over the bridge then continue on 100 yards then take a right. Another 50 yards to the put in on the right. Our traditional put in by the bridge is no longer available, it is now posted and roped off. The new put in is on a cove extending out from the main flow of the river and is owned by the state of NH. It tends to get "weady" in late summer and is usually frozen in early spring.

Take out

Drive back past McDonalds and take a left at the light.
Approximately 1.5 miles at the light take a left on route 132.
75 yards take a right just past the line of train cabosses. The take out is just past the railroad tracks.

Rapid Descriptions

Map of the Lower Pemi region

Class - Mile - 0

1st Trestle

Class - II Mile - 1
Class I in low water. This is the first rapid you come up to after negotiating a long section of quick water and riffles. Recognized by the first railroad bridge crossing. The center channel is usually the easiest. Approach the from river left then manuever right going straight between the bridge abutments.


Class - II Mile - 1.1
Shortly after 1st Trestle comes the Crib. This rapid is formed by the old dam cribwork that can still be seen on the river right side of the channel. At medium and high water (greater than 500 cfs) a rather beefy hole forms on river left. Keep a straight line and run down the middle. At low water (less than 400 cfs) a good wave forms at the crib and can be accessed from a large rock on river left (which incidently forms the hole at higher water levels). Also, at low water levels, a long line of shallow pinning rocks become exposed on river right just after the Crib. Paddle far downstream to catch the eddy on river right.

2nd Trestle

Class - I Mile - 1.3
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
The only thing to look out for here is a bridge pilling vertically sticking out in the middle channel of the railroad bridge. At medium to high water (700 to 1300 cfs)this pilling is just below the surface and can be difficult to see. Just below the bridge there is a nice easy river wide wave that forms just above Gazebo Island. This wave is much easier to access and surf than the one upstream at the crib.

Packer Brook

Class - II Mile - 1.8
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
Just below the Bridge street bridge is a rather long rapid for this stretch of river. The general route is just slightly left of center. At medium to high water a nice glassy wave forms at the top of the rapid from river right and extends to the center of the river. However, there is no convenient eddy to access the wave so boaters must try to catch the wave on the way down. Look out at low water levels, this wave is formed by a log crib that still has some spikes protruding. A couple of boats have been holed here.


default user thumbnail
Michael Forney
17 years ago

Hey all me and a buddy of mine ran the upper section of the Winni toady. Other than a few passing thunderstorms we had a blast. He has never been on whitewater and I just got him into kayaking this year. He was nervous when he first saw the river, but that all changed once we got going. We ran at 800cfs and it was the perfect height for him. This spot is great for beginners. we arrived at 10am and stayed till about 5pm, we made 3 runs down. Normally on the run at the island in Tilton center you want to run the river left, but we found out our second run down that at 800cfs to the right of the island is a lot more fun. If I had to guess based on the depth of the water at when we stopped at the island it is not advisable to run the island on the left at anything below 650cfs or it is scratchy. If anyone gets a chance to run it this weekend all I can say is have fun. If you are a whitewater fiend like I am I scouted the Cross Mill section and it is moving very well. The only caution I would give is to get left fast after Zippy's final plunge or you may find out what it is like to run the lower damn. There is only about a 10ft section where the water slows before you are eating the cable spanned across to keep you from going into the dam.
p.s. I made a whitewater faux pas. I forgot my duct tape. I will tell you now I needed it because we made our last run and now I can't get him to shut up about it. I think he is hooked.

Gage Descriptions

Several large lakes in its headwaters regulate the river. For this reason the Winnipesaukee runs more consistently and latter in the spring and early summer than most regional rivers. It is also less susceptible to quick rises due to heavy rains. Dams are located at the outflows of Lake Winnipesaukee, Winnisquam, Opechee, Wentworth, etc. that can regulate flows through the river. This is mainly used to control the lake levels for fall maintenance on docks, dams, and canals, and also to allow for flood control during spring runoff. The lakes are usually drawn down around Columbus day, this usually results in 3 or 4 days of low to medium water on the river. Occasionally in the spring the lakes will be drawn down further if a heavy snowpack threatens flooding. The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) controls the flow on the Winni. See the NHDES website for current conditions and flow management discussion. Lochmere dam controls the flow for this section. Flows are usually stepped up or down as conditions warrant.
Also, check out the following sites.
Current watershed operations information
Winnisquam Lake operations information
Silver Lake operations information

Month............% chance.................comment

January ............50%....Watch out for ice shelves especially at the take out. 
February............35%....Ice shelves. 
March...............80%....Ice shelves wash out middle of month. 
April...............99%....Highest water class II+ 
May ................99%....Flows start dropping back 
June................99%....Lake Winnipesaukee keeps flow going early in Summer. 
July................80%....Summer time flows are low
September...........25%....Lowest water month 
October.............50%....Draw down of lake gives a few days of medium water 
November............90%....Fall rains, dormant trees 
December............80%....River stays relatively ice free most of the winter. 

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 25% probability for September means on average you can only expect 7-1/2 days of water. One year there could be 6 days in September with water, other years 1-1/2. Spring levels are usually higher than fall levels.

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

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.

article main photo

Winnipesaukee Recreational Proposal

Mark and Sharon Lacroix

American Whitewater (AW) along with its affiliate club organizations the Merrimack Valley Paddlers (MVP) and New Hampshire Appalachian Mountain Club (NHAMC) are requesting a new lake level management plan to enhance downstream recreation on the WinnipesaukeeRiver near Franklin New Hampshire.  A panel consisting of representatives from the Lakes region was set up to look into and recommend changes to the level management of Lake Winnipesaukee and associated lakes. The impetus for this has been the flooding over the last couple years with "no wake" rules being instituted, access under bridges, etc.

article main photo

Winnipesaukee River Work Day

Mark and Sharon Lacroix

We are looking for some volunteers to help on the Winnipesaukee trail river maintenance work day scheduled for this Saturday, October 28th. The Winnipesaukee river is in the process of being shut down to 50 cfs for a two week period to allow for hydro power dam maintenance and river bank cleanup. This is a yearly project that American Whitewater, MVP and AMC have joined efforts with local town organizations to help restore a once  a badly abused and neglected river.

If you want to join us please bring a minimum of working gloves and meet us at Trestle View Park in Franklin NH at 9am, if late just walk the ½ mile up the trail and join us. Other implements that could come in handy are shovels, rakes, bow saws, chain saws, pruning shears, etc.


Mark Lacroix


Skip Morris


Alex Barham


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1193359 12/24/06 Mark Lacroix n/a
1201378 06/05/12 Skip Morris
1202958 05/02/18 Alex Barham Location