This photo needs editing.
Difficulty II(IV)
Length 1.8 Miles
Flow Range CFS
Flow Rate as of: 49 minutes ago 1.06 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 07/06/2014 4:05 am

River Description

Posted by Clinton Begley 7/04/2014
Ran the Watson to Whittier section with Alex DePue at 260cfs. Took out in the dark so we didn't get a chance to see the third falls.
Kimballs falls was running plenty and the right chute reveals a significant kicker right in the middle of it. Alex did two runs and ran just right and just left of it with success. I took a line basically just right of center of the entire ledge and boofed onto a shallow shelf somewhat anti-climactically. There are better lines river left. 

Hayes falls has three main lines. Far right is a right to left chute with a few short cascading drops finishing with a tongue into a curler. 
Center line is a less than vertical drop to a shelf for a nice boof. 
The left line catches a lot of water and features a boof about 2/3 the way down over a hole at the bottom. 

The rest of the run to the bridge is uneventful. Poison Ivy abounds. 

Posted by Clinton Begley 4/13/2014

Scouted the Watson to Whittier street section today. Lots of snow and ice dams still but I wanted to flesh out the description and add some photos to this description. I'm sure there are many locals who know all of this better than I do, but a more robust description could be helpful. Today's level for the scout was 4.39ft (144cfs) on the Rochester Guage.

In addition to the acurate characterization by Curt and Nate in 2005, I wanted to identify the location of the "Falls" on the stretch and give some idea as too what to expect. 

Three main falls are present. Historical records identify them as Kimballs Falls, Hayes Falls and Whittier Falls in order of appearance as you move downstream. 

Kimballs Falls is a river-wide feature ranging from 12-15' high at today's river level. There is a "chute" of sorts on river right that looks to flow right into a kicker. It would be a highly technical maneuver at this level, but still runable. More water is likely to smooth that out some as well as open up other lines. Depth of the water could not be determined, but did not *obviously* present any hazards. 

Hayes Falls is approximately 250 yards downstream and about 50 yards past an obvious right bend in the river. 
This smaller falls is approximately 10-12' high and is channelized around a small grove of trees with the majority of the water staying river right although this feature is also river-wide. River left appaers very sluicy, but the character may change with the melting of ice dams. 

Whittier falls is just below Whittier bridge and I didn't get a chance to view it from downstream. Although photos available online of this scenic spot seems to feature a river wide 12' high falls with multiple channlized paths down it.

There is a conservation easement on the north side of the river (river left bank) and a pestrian trail runs the length as well. 

Posted by Nate on 10/23/05

Curt Crittenden and I took an inaugural run on the Cocheco in Dover this afternoon. We found an eminently enjoyable run from the Watson Rd. Dam to just below the Whittier St. Bridge.

There are 5-6 distinct rapids of around 2/2+ difficulty. In at least 3 of these, we found good to excellent surf waves. Not huge,but with good eddies and good runouts. All of these rapids provided multiple routes, good eddy hopping, and some decent holes. Great practice ground for river reading, ferrying, catching eddies, and a few squirt spots. There were a couple even better looking catch on the fly waves that I missed on the fly.

There are also two much more challenging rapids on this stretch. The first is a 10-12 foot falls after the first 2 sections of class 2. There appear to be a few possible lines at this level, but it is very ledgy, with nasties sticking up all over. The deepest channel and lowest gradient drop (river right) has a big roostertail right in the middle of the drop, making this no good. It was difficult to scope pool depths under other potential lines, and every potential line I saw, one would need to be right on since there are bad lines (primarily in the form of ledgy outcroppings) very nearby. We walked around this on river left - there are trails on both sides, but the left bank is not as steep. If anybody has interest in running this drop, please let me know as I would love to see it and take pictures.

There is another class 2 rapid below this, followed by a 2+ section around a sharp right hand corner. The river bends back to the left and goes over the second hardest drop on this section. We scouted from river right. The river drops over 2 shallow ledges and has some big crosscurrents and sizable holes. It probably drops 8 feet over about 20 yds. We ended up running right down the middle. As we punched through the first hole, the current pushed us a little off line and both of us skirted through the meatier bottom hole without incident. There are many other more difficult lines in this rapid. I would rate it a solid class 3 at this level, 3+ perhaps. There is a good eddy on the right just below the main drop and then another 100 yds or so of 2+ water with some good waves before it levels out again.

There are a couple more short sections of rapids below. You pass under the Spaulding Tpke and then the Whittier ST. Bridge. There is a good easy surf wave just above this bridge on river left. One final drop below the bridge and then take out on river left.

Put in is on Watson Rd. river right below the dam. Take out at small pull off next to the Whittier St bridge on river left.

I'd be interested to know if anyone else has boated this section at this or other levels and what they thought. Pretty fun stuff for seacoast area boating, imho.

Posted by Curt Crittenden on 10/23/05

Nate, thanks for comin' over to do this. I've been wanting to run this for a long time but lacked the mad skills and company to do it. (now at least I have the company)

If anybody is interested, this river section is about 1.8 miles through Dover with a virtually uninhabited shoreline with a lot of wildlife. I live right through the woods to the river and around the corner from the put-in.

If you add the AW gauges for the Cocheco @ Rochester and its main tributary, the Isinglass, the sum was about 900cfs today. I would estimate the river
through Dover was maybe a third to a half higher due to unmetered tributaries. Depending on where you measure, the river drops about 80 - 100 feet over 1.8 miles so there was quickwater at the slowest. It crosses four 20' contour intervals in this run.

River geology is mostly shale, so no big erratics for mid-stream eddies but at this level there were a lot of good run-out places for all the good surf sports as Nate said.

I need to go back and rerun it because the lower falls was a blast but also went by in a blur.

I've scouted this in every water level from drought to flood. I think the big falls is runnable in a channel on the right at a little lower level where the rooster tail won't be a bad pinning possibility. Watch for the horizon line after the second set of rapids if you run this & take out well before.

The AMC guidebook completely wrote off this section of river and I've never seen anyone else here. I guess they were having a bad day. We sure didn't.

C. Crittenden AKA SecretUndone


Rapid Descriptions

Kimballs Falls

Class - IV Mile - 0.9

Hayes Falls

Class - IV Mile - 1.1

Whittier Falls

Class - IV Mile - 1.8
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

(difficulty is a guess - no hazards identified, but proceed with caution)


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William Barker
3 years ago

Ran Watson-Whittier section today @75cfs to scout for when the water comes up. Quite low @75 but everything was runnable, an amazing river for the area. Kimball Falls (biggest drop) was most enjoyable with a "ski jump" boof on the right side line.

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11 years ago

Ran the river yesterday at 380cfs. Everything looked good, even contemplated running the 15 foot falls. There's a nice boof line in the middle. I'm looking to run it the next time the water comes up.

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12 years ago

Th Islanglass Guage appears to be back running.

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asa wagner
13 years ago

Due to funding problems, the Isinglass river guage has gone off-line. The Islanglass is one of two major tributaries of the Cocheco. On Oct 28th the Cocheco at Rochester NH (upstream 11 miles - and the other tributarie of the lower Cocheco) was guaged at 1400 cfs, and I would venture a guess that through Dover the river was well over 2500. This after 2.7 inches of rain according to the National Weather Service web page. The ground water level was moderate, and the trees dormant for the season.

Gage Descriptions

If you add the AW gauges for the Cocheco @ Rochester and its main tributary, the Isinglass, the sum was about 900cfs today. I would estimate the river
through Dover was maybe a third to a half higher due to unmetered tributaries.

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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Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1194393 10/30/05 n/a n/a
1203176 03/14/14 clinton begley added isenglass guage
1203175 03/14/14 clinton begley updated photos, rapids and reach description
1203542 07/06/14 clinton begley updated flow info and description