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Difficulty II-III+
Length 2 Miles
Flow Range 4.50 - 10.00 FT
Flow Rate as of: 5 hours ago 7.75 [FT] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 04/13/2011 2:05 pm

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

Rapid Descriptions

Put in

Class - Mile - 0

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.


Class - II Mile - 0.3

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

Class - Mile - 0.9

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

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

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

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.


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Tom Currier
2 years ago

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

default user thumbnail
6 years ago

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Gage Descriptions

Dam flow can be found at .


Flow information at this NH State Newfound Lake gage.


NHDES              Put in visual          runability
300 cfs                 5.6’                   minimum (scratchy)
400 cfs                 6.0’                   Low to medium
550 cfs                 ???                   Medium
700 cfs                 ???                   medium high (class IV)
1000 cfs               ???                   high (class IV+)

A max of 1100 cfs has been applied because of the extreme danger of being flushed over the dam should any problems occur.

Estimated chance (%) of finding the river runnable.
Month............% chance.................comment
January ............ 5%....Usually frozen
February............10%....Usually frozen.
March...............40%....Opens up about mid month.
April...............85%....Most of April
May ................30%....Best chance in early May.
August...............5%....Just a trickle
September...........10%....Tropical storms and their remains
October........�....15%...Drawdown of Newfound lake
November............20%....Fall rains, dormant trees
December............20%....River starts freezing about Christmas.
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 5% probability for August means on average you can only expect 1-1/2 days of water. One year there could be 3 days in August with water, other years none. Spring levels are usually higher than fall levels. The river rises and falls more gradually than other local rivers because of the buffering effect from Newfound Lake.



Directions Description

To get to the put in drive north out of Bristol on route 3 to the blinking light just before the Lake and take a left. Take another immediate left on a dirt road just before the bridge. Drive down to the dead end just downstream of a dam run by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.


No Accident Reports



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