The Piscataquog is a great novice river and is fairly dependable even early in spring. The dam at the put-in causes the river to rise and fall regularly throughout the winter; this keeps ice from building up under all but the coldest conditions. The first mile has most of the whitewater, with several nice class II drops. There are good play opportunities along the way--the best being just past a clearing for power lines that run overhead. This play spot is called the Toilet Bowl. Depending on level it is either a hole or series of waves. Just before the bridge to Pinardville, there is a small drop that contains some rebar from an old dam. The bridge to Pinardville (1 mile) is an alternate takeout if you are only interested in the upper section or your time is limited. Below the bridge the river flattens out with only two good drops, although these drops are more intense (but shorter) than the ones above. There is also a nice squirt line at a river bend where the river takes a sharp right.
Take out: There seems to be some confusion as to a legal takeout location on the reservoir formed by Kelly's Falls Dam. Private residences line the shore of the reservoir and it is unclear to AW where there is legal access. A report on April 8, 2018 stated that boaters were accosted by a landowner while they were taking out at Dumont Parks Road where there is a turn out next to the river, a parking area across the road from the river and a small boat ramp into the river. It is unclear whether the land owner does indeed own the land being used to take out. Until this is cleared up, it appears to AW that the most likely legal take out is at the end of Sonny Road, a short distance downstream. There is a boat ramp, basically in somebodies driveway, but no parking. AW depends on local boaters and activists to determine and report legal take out locations as well as river problems. .
Go here for a YouTube video of boaters surfing on the Piscat.
Thanks to Sunshine for the following description.
The beginning of the river is the hardest in my opinion. I usually lead newbies directly through the upper section just left of the middle through a rock garden. For others there is a large eddy at the beginning of the class II rapid on river right. From there you can catch an easy wave right beside the eddy. This is an excellent section to practice your eddy hops. At the end of the rapid (marked by the last large boulder on river left) there is a playspot that is nearly river wide. This is good to surf and maybe sidesurf. Maybe 50 yards downstream, the river takes a hard turn to the left. I make sure newbies have their bows pointed river left as they take the turn and then they paddle through the waves to a large eddy on river right. Experienced paddlers can catch a playspot at the top of the corner on river right, and others a little below that. There are a couple of other eddies on the right, I just don't have the newbies catch them at first. After the large newbie eddy, the river has a number of small surfing spots that helps build confidence. Many like the waves under the powerlines. To catch the first one, you need to eddy out before the powerlines on river left and back into the top one.
After that there are 3 eddies on the left near each wave spot. The top two however can't be reached if you miss that particular eddy. In the center of the river just before that first eddy is a playhole that has been known to grab at timid paddlers. This is not a keeper hole, but it.s always fun to see the cocky ones struggle a little to get out. There is a lot play in this section. Toward the end of this (short) rapid are a few waves that anyone can catch. We usually still get to them from river left.
Just after the powerlines, there is a fun little section on river right and center. Just downstream is my favorite spot, the ledges. It's fairly easy to get on and off this wave, although it breaks at a little bit of an angle and needs a little concentration at first. But the eddy line will bring you right up to the wave. There are waves across this section and it is pretty deep to roll. The eddy is large enough so as not to miss getting back in line. From here you will see a couple of boulders in the center of the river. The yahoos boof it through the middle; you need to be paddling on a river left line as you go through. Everyone else runs in just to the right of the rocks, angling left around the corner. There is a stern squirt line on river left near a barking dog. The river gauge is around the corner on river left. There is a nice small wave to play on just right of the middle above the playspot. The eddy is on river right. You can catch this wave in a number of spots--at lower levels, 4.5 to 5.5, it gets a little sticky on river left. Many people take out here, but not us.
Paddle down a meandering section. As the river makes a right turn stay out of the corner. There is a squirrelly eddy line and the current really tries to slam the newbies into a tree on river left. But at the large rock just after the corner is the strongest stern squirt line on the river. I have my beginners practicing their peel outs here. Paddle a little ways and the river bends to the left. You can paddle on either side of Nurses Hole. As a playspot it's doable but weak. Again a little more quick water paddling.
At the ball field there are a couple small waves. The last one is nice and wide and excellent for sidesurfing. Now, as you look down river, you can see trees. This is where the river makes a sharp turn to the left and the one and only "drop" on the river. I do not think it needs to be scouted, but the eddy on river right just above the drop is huge. I always tell my newbies to run it just right of center, lean forward and paddle through the couple of standing waves. Make sure you line up the boat ahead of the drop; if you get pushed too far river right, at low levels it is really rocky. For the yahoos or those who will carry their boats back up a few times, there is a rock to boof in the center of river left. If you hit it squarely you will drop a foot or two, if you hit the right hand side you will slide down. Either way, if there is a flip, it is deep enough to roll. This is it; you now need to paddle about a half mile to the takeout on river right.
Put in elevation........208'
Take out elevation......172'
River width average.....25'
1st mile drop...........25'
2nd mile drop...........8'
2.4 mile drop...........3' (7.5' average)
River geology...........schists, small boulders, some ledge
River water quality.....good, clarity; good to neutral.
Scenery.................Good, first mile in secluded valley, occasional homes
on the latter half of river.
Wildlife................Occasional deer, merganzers, great blue herons
Message posted by Tom McIntire on 4/3/02
I was talking to one of the dam operators tonight at the put-in to the Piscataquog in Goffstown, NH, and he told me that there has been a little grumbling in the office. Apparently some people have been parking their cars at the bottom of the hill next to the dam. Please do not. You are perfectly welcome to drive down to drop off boats and gear, but please park at the top of the hill. If people park at the bottom, it gets difficult to turn a vehicle around, etc.
This dam is a case where outside of the relicensing procedure we have managed to maintain a good working relationship with the dam owners and operators. They schedule drawdowns, etc., so that they benefit the paddling community, and even on occasion hold water back during the day and release it during prime paddling hours instead. They also allowed us to rebuild the put-in, and we now have a nice set of rock stairs as a result.
Bear in mind, under their current FERC license, they are probably under no obligation to even allow us on the site. The reality is, however, that they want to be good community members, and part of being a community member is working with the local paddlers instead of against them. So, if you can just be sure to take care of the site, move vehicles back to the top of the hill after unloading (and I have seen it work on a day when there were probably 100 people on the river), and just be nice if you see people working there. If you do, we all can continue to enjoy this resource. It is, after all, a nice after-work run in close proximity to Manchester. And remember, some of the operators are also paddlers!
(Thanks to Nancy G for the below info.)
If you're short on time...
The takeout location on the map is no longer available to boaters. The new takeout is on the same road but further down past the residential area is a parking area across the road from a little boat launch. It makes for some extra flatwater paddling but worth it to paddle the whole run. There is an alternate takeout halfway through the run where the river goes under a bridge but usually used only when time is a factor.
USGS gage located 1 mile downstream from the put in. River flow controlled by Glen Lake dam. Most dependable water in March and April. One release day arranged in early November. Forcaste
Low to medium.<5.5.......805cfs
Estimated chance (%) of finding the river runnable.
January .............60%....can be frozen
February.............60%....can be frozen
March................95%....Most dependable month
September...........30%....Tropical storms and their remains
October.............40%....Trees go dormant less water being absorbed by them
November............50%....draw down of Glen lake
December............50%....River stays open 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 15% probability for July means on average you can only expect 4.5 days of water. One year there could be 9 days in July with water other years none. Spring levels are usually higher than fall levels. Fall release The draw down of Glen Lake is scheduled for Saturday November 4th 2006 time to be posted later. That should provide boating into the early afternoon with the highest levels shortly after the start of the release.
Permits are not required for this reach.
From Interstate 93 in Manchester NH take state route 101 west approximately 5 miles. At the light go straight (route 101 goes left) on route NH 114.Approximately 4 miles continue on route 114 by taking a left at the lights.2.3 miles look for Glen Lake dam on the right.Park at the top of the hill by the electrical substation. Carry down to the base of the dam or get permission from the dam operator to drive your boat down.
Head back in the direction you just came from back to the intersection where route 114 goes right.Take a left here. Approximately .5 miles at the base of a hill park by the overhead powerlines.
Piscataquog put in
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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.
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.
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.
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