Newfound River - Newfound lake to Bristol

Newfound River, New Hampshire, US


Newfound lake to Bristol

Usual Difficulty II-III+ (for normal flows)
Length 2 Miles
Avg. Gradient 62 fpm
Max Gradient 77 fpm

Broken Paddle

Broken Paddle
Photo of Ginger Gatewood by Mark Lacroix taken 08/16/08 @ 400 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
hads-BRTN3 4.50 - 10.00 ft II-III+ 00h55m 4.69 ft (running)
No upper limit known Located at the dam

River Description


The Newfound is a seldom run river located near the more popular Pemi. This is a medium size river about 45' wide on average. It is broken up into three sections separated by mandatory portages at two dams. The first mile is easier (class II) once you portage the partially washed out dam the difficulty increases. If anyone in your party has difficulty on this upper section then it is highly recommended they pull out here. Below the first dam the river passes under the NH rt 3A bridge then quickly increases in difficulty to class III at medium levels. There is a short breather where the rapids decrease in difficulty (class II). Just above the bicycle path footbridge the main event starts. Old Mill rapid starts just upstream of the bridge then increases in difficulty up to class III+ at medium levels. Be prepared to strike for shore if you find yourself separated from your boat since another dam awaits just downstream. The rapids calm to class II just before it takes a sharp turn back under the NH rt 3A bridge then tumbles over another unrunable dam. Take out on river right just before the sharp right turn. This is an optional take out since the river below mellows out considerably. If you should choose to continue downstream carry your boat across NH rt 3A then behind the building just to the right of the dam. Mild class II rapids continue up to Bristol Hill Road Take out on the right. Just above the take out bridge there is a river wide hole formed by a lowhead dam. This is not noticeable until you are right on top of it. There is good play here by good boaters with escape lines on either side of the hole. 
Technical info
Put in elevation........587'
Take out elevation......463'
Total drop..............124'
Average drop/mile.......62'
Distance................2.0 miles
River width average.....45'
1st mile drop...........47' (includes ~6’ of portaged dam)
2nd mile drop...........77' (includes ~7’ of portaged dam)
River geology...........schists, small to medium boulders
River water quality.....good, clarity; good
Scenery.................mostly good to excellent, poor at dam portages.
Wildlife................merganzers, hawks

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2011-04-13 14:05:21

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Put inPutin Photo
0.9First damPortage Photo
1.1Broken PaddleIIIPhoto
1.2Old MillIII+Photo
2.0Old NateII+Takeout Playspot Photo

Rapid Descriptions

Put in

Newfound put in

Newfound put in
Photo by Mark Lacroix taken 08/16/08 @ 400 cfs

Put in at the outflow dam for Newfound Lake located on the bicycle path on the south end of the lake.  There is a visual gage located river left just downstream of the dam.

Riverdale (Class II, Mile 0.3)


Photo of Jeff Swett by Mark Lacroix taken 08/16/08 @ 400 cfs

First significant rapid you will encounter.  Riverdale road bridge is a good visual marker for the start of this rapid.  Just run down the middle.

First dam

First portage

First portage
Photo of Joe Fiala by Mark Lacroix taken 08/16/08 @ 400 cfs

This dam is a mandatory portage.  The top half of the dam washed out in the flood of May 2006.  The bottom section awaits removal at a later date.  For now the easiest portage is on river right between the dam and a strainer choked spillway.  If the water is high paddlers should take out and portage on river left. 

Broken Paddle (Class III, Mile 1.1)

Upper Broken Paddle

Upper Broken Paddle
Photo of Paul Eggbert by Mark Lacroix taken 08/16/08 @ 400 cfs

Shortly after putting back in below the first dam portage the river passes under NH rt 3A.  Rapids immediately pick up to class III with much boulder dodging at low water.  The rapid calms down to class II jsut below a chute with good surf.  A padler broke his paddle here during a recent trip hence the name of the rapid.

Old Mill (Class III+, Mile 1.2)

Old Mill Rapid

Old Mill Rapid
Photo of Bill Smith and Ginger Gatewood by Mark Lacroix taken 08/16/08 @ 400 cfs

When the bicycle/foot bridge comes into view shortly below Broken Paddle, prepare yourself for the longest and most difficult section on this river.  The top of the rapid requires some maneuvering around boulders and chutes to stay on line.  A few yards below the footbridge the river splits around an island, at low to medium water levels go right of the island.  When the channels come back together a short way downstream the river passes steeply through a white and violent section that requires good bracing skills to remain upright.  Once through this mayhem the water eases out to class II difficulty just before it passes under NH rt 3A and over another dam.  Take out river right just before the bridge and portage across the road and put back in behind the building on the dam,s right flank.  For those just wanting to run the toughest whitewater this is an optional take out since the river below is much calmer.

Old Nate (Class II+, Mile 2.0)

Old Nate

Old Nate
Photo of Joe Fiala by Mark Lacroix taken 08/16/08 @ 400 cfs

Old Nate is a hole formed by a low head dam just upstream of the take out.  It is rather hard to see from above until you are right up upon it. You will be able to recognize its location by the take out bridge located on Bristol Hill Road.   At low to medium levels it is a fairly good playhole.  There is good escape out of the hole on eather side of it.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
April 10 2017 (645 days ago)
Tom CurrierDetails
As of 4/9/2017 both dams are runnable. At the first dam about a 1/4 way down river, run about 15'
from the left shore and slide over a smooth hump and paddle through the washout at the bottom. This
may be easily scouted from shore or from the road. I recommend doing so as this one has changed
over the years. We used to run it river right until this season. The second dam is after the
walking bridge crosses the river. After going through a mini Kennebec like series of rough
whitewater, paddle fast and hard and run the dam about 10 - 15' from the right shore. Again, paddle
hard through the washout at the end. There's a slight hydraulic here but with any speed you'll
blast right through