Ashuelot River

Unspecified • 12.5 mi • 0 ft

This eTrail includes three sections of New Hampshire's Ashuelot River: Lower Stillwater to Gilsum Gorge, Gilsum Gorge to Shaws Corner, and Ashuelot to Hinsdale. The Ashuelot has its origin in several lakes to the north of Marlow, New Hampshire; it flows generally southeastward to meet the Connecticut below Hinsdale. Along most of its course the Ashuelot is flat, although two sections do offer good whitewater challenges and another is an appropriate training ground for beginners. The upper Ashuelot (trip A) is small and requires precise boat control in maneuvering through the many rock patterns. There are at least a half-dozen of these goodies, plus one that is substantially harder. In low water the passages are tight. Higher water opens new routes, but packs them with lots of turbulence. If the gauge reading is greater than 5.0, the rapids tend to blend together forming one long, difficult class IV rapid. At the trip’s end, there is an impressive gorge. Trip A is short and easily can be repeated in a day. A road follows the river closely, which greatly facilitates the shuttle. The middle Ashuelot (trip B) is a fine class II run for instructing beginners. The rapids consist mainly of small haystacks; the curves are gentle, yet it takes some skill to negotiate them; and there is a tough class III rapid to end the trip. A road follows alongside most of the way, although for the majority of the trip the paddler is unaware of it. The unfortunate aspect of this trip is that it seldom has enough water for an enjoyable run. It should be mentioned also that this trip seems straightforward even when the water is high, but coping with the strong current may be too much for people with only class II ability. Neophytes should be aware that rescues under these conditions are extremely demanding and difficult, and that boat and boater can be at the mercy of the river. The lower Ashuelot is quite different from the upper sections. This lower section is much wider, has a larger discharge, and is polluted, although the water quality has improved in recent years. Though the scenery is not great, the big-water playing opportunities are, and the river has been rediscovered in recent years by boaters who are bored with the Millers or the Contoocook. It also shares runoff patterns with the Millers and the Contoocook and is generally runnable when the Millers is above 4 feet or the Contoocook is above 7 feet. In between dams the water can be powerful, with one set of especially heavy rapids. Even with its scenic drawbacks, this section of the Ashuelot offers good practice on one of New England’s larger whitewater river sections.
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Activity Type: Whitewater Paddling
Nearby City: Ashuelot
Length: 12.5 total miles
Elevation Loss: Minimal
Gradient: Unspecified
Skill Level: Class II - IV
Local Contacts: Gauge location and water level information is provided in the eTrail if available.
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