Mad - 2. Gorge

Mad, New Hampshire, US


2. Gorge (Secret Gorge)

Usual Difficulty III (for normal flows)
Length 1 Miles
Avg. Gradient 73 fpm
Max Gradient 73 fpm

Typical drop

Typical drop
Photo of Mike Gatewood by Mark Lacroix taken 03/17/02 @ Minimum flow

River Description

This is a nice but short pool and drop river. There are many 2 and 3 foot ledge drops amongst large granite boulders through a steep sided gorge. At low levels it can be a little scratchy at the begining and the end. There is not much playing to be had on this river section but it is a good place to learn skills for steep creaking. If the dam is spilling water put in at the first location by the dam. Walk down a steep embankment on river left downstream from the bridge. This will give you access to two warm up rapids (Upper and Lower White Pine rapid), with some surfing waves to play in. If the water is marginal or being bypassed by the hydro station it will be necessary to put in 1/4 mile further downstream.

Technical info

Put in elevation........633'
Take out elevation......560'
Total drop..............73'
Average drop/mile.......73'
Distance................1.0 mile
River width average.....50'
River geology...........granite ledge, Large boulders, steep sided gorge 
River water quality.....Good to excellent, clarity excellent.
Scenery.................An isolated steep gorge next to NH route 49 and 
                        Campton village, but all are out of sight once you
                        enter the gorge.
Wildlife................Occasional Moose, deer, hawks. 


Put in (from interstate 93 Concord)

Interstate 93 north to exit 28.
Take a right at exit on NH 49 east approximately 1.5 miles.
Take a right (south) on NH 175 at the light.
Just after the bridge take a left and park close to the dam.
If the water is too low in this section, continue 1/4 mile to a small pull off where the river is close to the road on the right.

Take out

Head back to NH 49.
Take a left (west) at the light back towards Interstate 93
1 mile take a left at the Handyman True Value Hardeware store.
50 yards take a left and park behind the Embroidery factory building just before you enter the trailer park

StreamTeam Status: Verified
Last Updated: 2008-05-04 10:08:12


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Map of the Mid Pemi regionPutin Takeout Photo
0.0Put InPutin Photo
0.1Big PineIIPhoto
0.3Tavern DropIIIPhoto
0.7Sunset DropIIIPhoto
1.0Take Out

Rapid Descriptions

Map of the Mid 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 Middle Pemigewasset region

Rivers of the Middle Pemigewasset region
Photo by Mark Lacroix

Put In

Put in at the Dam

Put in at the Dam
Photo of Mike Wevrick by Mark Lacroix taken 05/02/08 @ 1.4 Six Mile Bridge

Put in at the Campton Dam at the street light a the intersection of NH rte 49 and NH rte 175. The best spot to carry down is river left just downstream of the dam and rte 175 bridge. Note that during low water much of the water is diverted form the dam through a penstock under rte 175 and re-enters the river at a micro hydro station about 500 ft downstream of the dam. If clear laminer flow continues 1/3 of the way, or greater, down the face of the dam then there should be enough water for the first couple rapids (i.e. upper and Lower Big Pine). Anything less will be a scratchy run at best.

Big Pine (Class II, Mile 0.1)

TC at Big Pine

TC at Big Pine
Photo of Tom Currier by Mark Lacroix taken 05/02/08 @ 1.4 Six Mile Bridge

Upper and lower Big Pine rapeds are straight forward easy drops.  At the lower levels, such as when the water is diverted around these rapids, they can be quit boney.  Rapid is named for a large tall white pine tree on river left.

Tavern Drop (Class III, Mile 0.3)

Tavern Drop

Tavern Drop
Photo of Julie Smith by Mark Lacroix taken 05/02/08 @ 1.4 Six Mile Bridge

As soon as you turn right away from NH rte 175 the Mad enters the gorge section.  You will immediately start encountering several ledge drops spaced only a dozen or so yards apart.  One of the major ones is a couple drops downstream of an old metal discharge culvert at a cliff overhang on river left.  The drop is somewhat blinded by large boulders but the river right side has a clear path.  Drop is named for the Mad River Tavern which is on river right (out of sight) on top of the gorge on NH rte 49.

Sunset Drop (Class III, Mile 0.7)

Sunset Ledge

Sunset Ledge
Photo of Richar Chaney by Mark Lacroix taken 05/02/08 @ 1.4 Six Mile Bridge

Nice 3 foot ledge drop great for learning boofing manuevers.  Left side is more vertical and has a fairly mean hole in it at higher levels. Feature is named after Sunset Hill on river right above the gorge.

Take Out

As the river slows down to a few ripples look for an easy exit over the loose gravel and boulders on the river right bank.  The takeout from the road is located behind A&H Aoutomotive.  From exit 28 turn right on the road between A&H and the Handyman Hardware store.  Just past the harware store take a left at the Embroidery factory and park in the roadside clearings by the factory.  You should take a walk into the woods to the river to try and get visual marker so you can recognize the takeout from riverside.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
September 5 2011 (2385 days ago)
Mark LacroixDetails
On August 28th, 2011 Hurricane Irene struck New England. The resulting floods caused extensive
damage throughout the region, the worst in over 100 years. More than half the rivers in Vermont and
northern New Hampshire recorded their highest flow levels ever. Many roads, guardrails, power
lines, bridges, trees and other debris now litter several rivers throughout the region. River beds
have been scoured and changed course, many new strainers make navigation problematic at best and
downright dangerous at worse. Please realize that the river description you see here may not match
current situation after the floods. Use common sense and when in doubt scout especially on blind
drops. Also, if you run this river in the next year or so please comment on its navigability, even
if there are no problems this will be very helpful. Please report any new strainers or changes to
the rapids that will impact future boating. Thank you,

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