The Concord runs through the heart of downtown Lowell. While the area is highly urbanized, the city is hidden from the river by trees and thick greenery. As a result this is an attractive run even though it runs thru the heart of the city.
The Concord river has been modified, damed, and diverted into canals for hundreds of years. Most of the dams and canals have washed out or filled since the mid-20'th century, but a small hydro facility (operated by Centennial Island Hydro) was built on a 19'th century era diversion canal in the early 1980's. This newer project in the upper section diverts some of the flow from the put-in to just past Twisted Sister. The hydro facility can be seen just past Twisted Sister on the left.
Of special interest is the U.S. National Park devoted to the canal system. With special arrangement, paddlers are allowed to make use of the locks below the last rapid. Thus allowing one to use the power of the river to float oneself up to a canal for an easy paddle to your car.
The river has also been narrowed over time in an effort to gain more real estate. Therefore it does not require as much water to run as it was in its natural state. The river also has a huge watershed, encircling the towns enclosed by Westford, Shrewsbury, Hopkinton, Wayland and Bedford (36 towns total). This results in a very long boating season; the river should be runnable from late Fall and Winter (after a moderate rain) thru the spring (usually into June). The large number of wetlands, swamps, and dams in the watershed also delay the effect of rain and act as a big sponge. There is usually water for a couple weeks after any substantial amount of rain. Additionally the southern New England location close to the coast means the river is usually boatable throughout the winter and early spring.
The whitewater section has only four "named" drops or rapids, however it is packed with numerous surfing and play spots. Boaters can (and do) spend hours on this river hitting the waves over-and-over again. The whole run is only about 1-1/2 miles long and passes old mill factories and neighborhoods. If you take-out at the bottom on the Merrimack River it adds another 3/4 mile to the run.
During the months of April and May the Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust runs rafting trips in cooperation with Zoar Outdoor (water dependent).Updated Info: There is a new put-in 100 yards upstream of the old one. It is a public park with a boat ramp and plenty of parking. It gets plenty of use from fishermen and flatwater boaters so security is better as well (03/2009).
The fence at the takeout below Middlesex Dam has been removed by the city for parking lot reconstruction. So it's no longer necessary to "hop" the fence to get to your car (03/2009).
Put in elevation........98'
Take out elevation......55'
River width average.....35'
River geology...........schists small boulders some ledge
River water quality.....Varies, stained dark by upstream swamps.
Scenery.................Varies, urban to trees, some trash on shore.
Wildlife................Ducks, Great Blue Herons, etc.
Estimated chance (%) of finding the river runnable.
January ............50%....Be cautious of ice.
February............50%....Be cautious of ice
March...............90%....Highest water month.
April...............80%....Water holds up well.
September...........20%....Tropical storms and their remains
October.............30%....Trees go dormant less water being absorbed.
December............50%....Watch out for ice late in month.
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 10% probability for July means on average you can only expect 3 days of water. One year there could be 6 days in July with water other years none. 60% of all runnable days (>400cfs) are in the low to medium range. 30% are in the medium range. 10% in the medium high to high range. Spring levels are usually higher than fall levels. Flows on the Concord river usually peak 40 to 48 after a rain event.Local Map - Concord river and surrounding area of Lowell
Put-on just below where Lawrence Street crosses the river. You can put on either above or below a runnable dam at the put-in. The dirt road running along the river is gated but not locked. Boaters are allowed to open the gate and drive down to one of the put-in's. Raft trips normally put on slightly furthur down the river by a large eddy.
The take-out just below Middlesex Dam is on Davidson St, behind 77 E. Merrimack St.
Here's a link to video of the Concord at about 1600 cfs. It's a crude edit but will give you an idea of the rapids. It shows all 4 rapids, the last one is a bit messed up cause the camera tilted up, sorry :-) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOQrqgUJ0pI
March 29, 2008. The strainer is cleared now. You can pass both sides of the island clearly.
2 years ago
by Calvin Toothaker
9 years ago
by Kevin Lindberg Sr.
10 years ago
11 years ago
The USGS gage is located on the right bank above Straight Shot rapid. The river can be run down to as low as 250 to 300 cfs, although the river character changes substantially below 6 feet on the gage (1100 cfs).
Permits are not required for this reach.
Get to the Woburn St. Exit off Interstate-495 near Lowell (Exit 37, which is one exit north of Rt. 3). Take Woburn St. to Lawrence St. and turn left. It is a five way intersection with a stop sign and blinking light. Follow Lawrence St. for a short distance. Go straight into the parking lot when Lawrence Street turns right to go under the railroad bridge.For the OLD put-in Follow Lawrence Street under the railroad tracks, the old put-in is past the cemetery by the bridge over the Concord River. Parking is on either side before the bridge.
You can put on either at the Lawrence Street bridge (above the diversion canal and the dam), or just below the Dam. Rafts put on 100 years below the dam by a huge eddy. Just upstream of Lawrence Street there is a railroad bridge that is often used for seal launching.
From the put-in, drive down Lawrence Street a short distance, turn right crossing over the diversion canal into an old mill parking lot. Walk around the fence or thru the gate along the river. Twisted Sister will be on the right before you reach the hydro plant.
Twisted Sister can also be scouted from river-right. Drive down Lawrence Street; turn right at the Rogers Steet light and cross the river. Take an immediate right again and drive into the parking lot of a manufacturing building. There are stairs leading down to the water next to Twisted Sister. This parking lot is only accessible during the work week.
Straight Shot can be scouted about 200 yards downstream of the Rogers Street bridge from either side of the river.
Middlesex Dam is best scouted from the island in the middle of the river, although it can be seen Warren Street takeout to verify there are no obstructions or strainers.
There are multiple take-outs. The favorite takeout for closed boats is river-right below Middlesex Dam; climb thru the trees and hop a small fence into a public parking lot on Chestnut Street.. When the river is running low you may wish to skip the Middlesex Dam drop and takeout above the dam on river-right on the lawn of a retirement home (adjacent to the same parking lot). (Note: As of 3/2009 the fence has been taken down while the parking lot is under construction.)
Open boats should take out directly below Middlesex Dam on river-left behind a local public parking garage along Warren Street (near the Doubletree Hotel). (Note: The parking lot behind the garage is locked on weekends.)
Paddle downstream to the Merrimack River and takeout near the end of Stackpole Street. From the put-in drive down to the end of Lawrence Street; turn right onto Church Steet and cross the river (which is now Andover Street and Route 110). Turn left at the light onto Nesmith Street (Route 38), then turn right onto Stackpole street just before the Merrimack River bridge.
Concord Lowell Map
Swimming Middlesex Dam
Surfing above Twisted Sister.
Hitting the slot on Centennial Island Dam
Merrimack River Ledges
Warren Street Takeout #1
Warren Street Takeout #2
Chestnut Street Takeout
Stackpole Street Takeout
Gage hiding under trees
Gage from bridge
Upper Put In
Map of downtown Lowell area
Eyeing the hole at a safe distance.
Wave at bottom of island
River-wide Surfing Wave
Waves at Straight Shot
Big Surfing Hole
Classic route thru Middlesex Dam
Bottom of Straight Shot
Getting ready to surf
Cold Sunday in February
V-Slot in Dam
Good fun Gnar Gnar
Dropping down the right edge of<br>Middlesex Dam
Skirting the big rock...
Just as the name says...
Twisting thru at low water
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In response to requests by American Whitewater, several affiliates, and other stakeholders, FERC directed Brookfield Renewable to study the impact of its hydropower operations on whitewater boating on the Deerfield River in western Massachusetts. Boating groups and our supporters are seeking to determine optimal whitewater boating flows from the Fife Brook Dam and whether changes in hydropower operations would enhance boating opportunities, access and navigation.
American Whitewater, along with other paddling groups and outfitters, filed comments with FERC responding to the Whitewater Boating Evaluation at Turners Falls on the Connecticut River. The study showed that there is strong demand for boating on this section of the Connecticut River if sufficient flows, scheduled releases, better access, and real-time information are provided. The groups filed the comments in order to provide additional information for the environmental review and to respond to the unsupported statements by FirstLight, the utility performing the study, claiming that there is little demand for boating at Turners Falls.
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.
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