Winnipesaukee - 1. Tilton Road to Riverfront Park

Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire, US


1. Tilton Road to Riverfront Park

Usual Difficulty I-II (for normal flows)
Length 2.1 Miles
Avg. Gradient 25 fpm
Max Gradient 35 fpm

Packer Brook surf wave

Packer Brook surf wave
Photo of Russ Fleweling by Mark Lacroix taken 03/17/01

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-01081000 230 - 1950 cfs I-II 00h43m 1880 cfs (running)

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 Winnipesaukee River in Franklin, Tilton, Northfield NH. 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 (Trestle View Park), Past Grevior's Furniture over the Bridge and take a Right into LUCKIE LENNYS Parking Lot the Unitarian Church 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 Winnipesaukee River

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.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2018-05-02 14:45:24


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Map of the Lower Pemi regionPutin Takeout Photo
1.01st TrestleIIPhoto
1.1CribIIPlayspot Photo
1.32nd TrestleIHazard Playspot
1.8Packer BrookIIHazard Playspot

Rapid Descriptions

Map of the Lower Pemi region

Notice: Undefined index: river in /var/www/code/wh2o/ on line 1680

Notice: Undefined index: section in /var/www/code/wh2o/ on line 1680

Rivers of the lower Pemigewasset region

Rivers of the lower Pemigewasset region
Photo by Mark Lacroix

1st Trestle (Class II, Mile 1.0)

1st Trestle

1st Trestle
Photo of Jim and Scott by Mark L taken 07/01/03 @ 240 cfs

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.

Crib (Class II, Mile 1.1)

Crib surf wave

Crib surf wave
Photo of Sharon Lacroix by Mark L taken 07/01/03 @ 240 cfs

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)
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)
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.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
August 13 2003 (5578 days ago)
Michael ForneyDetails
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.

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

Or, consider donating

Associated News