Contoocook River in New Hampshire
Trip OverviewFor our trip on this part of the Contoocook we put in just above the dam in Contoocook Village. Heading north on Rt 127 toward Contoocook Village, there is a free municipal parking lot on the left just before the bridge crossing the Contoocook. The lot is actually on Cedar St but is visible from Rt 127. The lot overlooks the river. The put-in is at the upstream corner of the lot, next to and old house which serves as a community center. Someone has thoughtfully laid some carpeting on the bank and water's edge to provide firm footing while launching canoes or kayaks.
There was a fair amount of water flowing over the dam due to recent rains but we had no trouble moving upstream in our kayaks. The current was probably not more than 1/2 mph in the river. After passing scattered houses and businesses in the village, the river passes under the high overpasses of I-89 and then parallels the highway for the next mile or so. The highway noise is quite noticeable for a while although the highway is out of sight for most of the time.
After turning the next bend in the river the river assumes a much more rural character. In the next few miles only a handful of houses are visible and the high banks are forested or tree lined with large fields beyond the trees. While we were paddling we heard and saw several corn harvesting operations under way to cut silage for dairy farms. We also saw a couple of blue herons, several flocks of ducks, and a river otter.
After about 3 miles we began paralleling a local road (Maple St) but there were very few cars to be seen or heard. In that stretch there was also a short dirt pull-off on river right that looked like it could be a usable access point. After about 4 1/2 miles, probably about 1/4 mile below the Rowley covered bridge, the river started to braid around some islands and the current started to increase. We tried hard to paddle to within sight of the covered bridge but couldn't fight the current.
After pulling into an eddy to have lunch, we headed back down river to our put in. Traveling with the current we retraced our path quickly. Per our GPS, our round trip mileage was almost exactly 10 miles.
We found this to be a pleasant paddle with a very rural character except for somewhat noisy stretch along I-89.
Directions:I-89 to Exit 6. North on Maple St to Contoocook Village.
- Skill Level: Intermediate
- Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)