Finally got a chance to get some mileage on our new Walden kayaks! 3 of us in Naturalist plus, and me in my Sunapee. Bright, sunny day, and my wife was the only one to put suntan lotion on her legs. Boy, did the rest of us regret that later on! We put in at the public boat landing just north of the Cornish Covered Bridge (the longest standing covered WOOD bridge in the world, and an excellent photo opportunity). Can't wait to do it again during foliage season! Our goal was the Ashley's Ferry boat landing, also known as the Claremont boat launch about 10 miles down river. River was very still, and extremely shallow in areas, but very floatable. Surprisingly, we were almost alone on the river, even with Northstar Canoe just down the river-no one was out and about. (They are located about 3-4 miles down below the covered bridge, and offer guided trips, canoe and kayak rentals, etc. and had given me advice about the trip)
No rapids, very little fast moving water except where there was natural 'ripples' from sandbars. The only wildlife we observed was a flock of Kingfishers or possibly Great Blue Herons on one bank. Northstar Canoe has a launch/retrievel site about 4 miles into the trip, and about halfway you pass under the Ascutney Bridge-joining Claremont, New Hampshire with Ascutney, Vermont and access to Route 91. (The Covered Bridge joins Cornish, New Hampshire and Windsor, Vermont). A few miles further is the landing for Wilgus State Park in Vermont-a very ignored and underutilized riverside camping area with rental canoes and a dozen or so camping sites. Somewhere in the 9 mile or so mark (my kayak doesn't have a speedometer and I didn't have a map, so I'm guessing, because the road trip to get the truck was exactly 10 miles end to end) you come up to the Claremont boat launch to get out. My wife wanted out at the halfway point, but we had no way to retrieve her and the kayak without her sitting there for hours, so she suffered through the last half but did make it! Now we'll start working on upper body strength and make shorter trips. If there had been more current, it would have been much easier.
Travel time on the river was almost 4 hours exactly, but we spent a lot of that time just gently coasting. I know in a canoe I could have done it a lot faster, but due to medical problems my canoeing days are over and I am learning to kayak. This is NOT the river I would try in the spring-the water rises probably 15-20 feet and is very dangerous, but experienced boaters can check with Northstar Canoe to find out when it is safe to put in.
Plenty of motel accommodations in the area, nothing on the trip for facilities.
Launch site-about 100 yards north of the Cornish Covered Bridge, Rt 12A, New Hampshire. (Coming up Rt 91 in Vermont, get off at Exit 8 and go north on Route 5 in Vermont and cross the covered bridge in downtown Windsor, or cross the concrete bridge in Ascutney to New Hampshire and go north on Rt 12A and follow the signs. Just about 4 miles south of the Covered Bridge or north of the Ascutney bridge, on Rt 12A, is Balloch's Crossing, an old farm that now rents canoes and kayaks and does group tours, etc. Our take-out point was at the Claremont landing, 10 miles south, also on Route 12a but more out in the 'boonies'-the entrance to the Boat Launch has a small sign on the road just at the entrance to a Jehovah's Witness chapel. Plenty of parking there.