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Difficulty I
Length 18 Miles
Flow Range 400 - 20000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 24 minutes ago 392 [CFS] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 06/25/2018 2:03 am

River Description

This section is runnable most of the year. There are no difficulties worth mentioning. There are several access points along the way to start or end a trip. See below for directions to these various access points. About 3/4 of the way into the trip you will pass a nice series of high sand dunes right on the rivers edge. This is very unusual for New England. Below the NH Route 4 access point be prepared for some whitewater that could be dangerous if the water is high (>3500 cfs).

Directions to put in

Rte 93 to exit 20. West on Rtes 3/11 approximately 5 miles to Franklin High School on your left. Parking and access behind the school.

Directions to NH route 4 take out

Rte 93 to exit 17. West on NH Rte 11 approximately 1 mile. After passing over the river park on the left at the NH Park & Ride which also has access to the Hannah Dustin memorial. The take out at the NH Route 4 bridge is a long (but not too) uphill trudge.

Rapid Descriptions

Put in

Class - Mile - 0
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Look for a short dirt road behind the Franklin High school leading down to reverside access and parking.

Mid point canoe access

Class - Mile - 6.5
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For a shorter trip take out or put in here. The current is usually swifter up to this access point coming down from Franklin. Below, the river flattens out. To find this canoe access head south on route 3 from the Franklin high school canoe access for approximately 6 miles. Just before the Merrimack county jail complex look for a small canoe access sign on your left. Short dirt road to the river.

Take out

Class - Mile - 14
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After passing under the NH route 4 bridge look for a small beach on river right just before an old bridge abutement. Carry up to the Park & Ride parking area. This can be used as another access point for the river section below. While here, check out the Hannah Dustin monument on the island just downstream from the takeout beach. You can also access this island by crossing on the pedestrian side of a railroad bridge going over a channel of the Contoocook river.

Lower takeout access

Class - Mile - 18
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
This section of river from the route 4 access contains a class II rapid just above an old iron truss bridge. Just downstream from here is the Sewalls Falls dam remains. In low water there is not much here to worry about. At high water there may be turbulance and waves. Take out just below the remains of the dam on river right and carry up to the riverside parking access point.


Gage Descriptions

Above 2000 cfs there is good current all the way to the take out. Below 800 cfs the current is a little sluggish especially on the lower section.

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



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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.


Skip Morris


Mark Lacroix


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1209424 06/09/18 Skip Morris
1209928 06/25/18 Skip Morris
1193575 08/02/02 Mark Lacroix n/a