Pemigewasset River
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont (AMC Books)
Address:37 Green Street, Plymouth
Hours:No posted hours
Fee: Free

New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, Rivers Management Protection Program, 603-271-2959,

Bathrooms: None
Water/Snacks: None

USGS Plymouth and Holderness quads

As the Pemigewasset River meanders through a pastoral valley, its gentle current and fun riffles carry you to sandy islands that beckon to be explored.

The Pemigewasset River is lined with sandy islands that are ideal for sunning, resting, and picnicking.

The paddle described here is all quick-moving flat water; there are no rapids, but the current will carry your boat along a peaceful ride through a beautiful valley and a couple of fun riffles along the way. Combined with plenty of swimming, island exploring, and world-class picnicking, this is a great trip for a sunny summer afternoon. The fishing is good (plenty of brook trout, rainbow trout, and smallmouth bass patrol these waters) and for extra fun on hot days, bring along an inner tube or two that the kids can ride and you can tow behind the boat.

The Pemigewasset River drains a large swath of the southern White Mountains and winds gradually through the Pemigewasset Valley until it joins the Winnipesaukee River to become the Merrimack River. If you were to follow the Merrimack south through New Hampshire and Massachusetts, you would eventually drift out into the Atlantic near Plum Island, Massachusetts.

From the boat put-in in Plymouth, you will meander along the sandybottomed river, past many great swimming opportunities. You will pass a few sandy beaches and then a golf course on your left. Even though many towns are nestled in the Pemigewasset Valley and a state highway and an interstate cross it, you will rarely see much evidence of mankind from the river. Instead, you’ll be able to enjoy the sounds of the river, the birds singing, and the wind rustling through the trees.

Stop at one of the many sandy islands for lunch and a siesta, and then continue on toward your preferred take-out: either the one in Bridgewater (6.0 miles) or the one in New Hampton (12.75 miles). If you’re traveling all the way to New Hampton, be aware: the current slows down in the last couple miles due to a dam downstream of the take-out, so you will need to save up energy for some paddling at the end. The full trip will take 3–5 hours, depending on how many breaks you take along the way.

Plan B:
On a rainy day, consider visiting the Squam Lake Science Center (, 603-968-7194) in nearby Holderness, which includes excellent exhibits on New Hampshire natural history, nature walks, lake cruises, and even some zoo-type wildlife exhibits—including a mountain lion and bears!
Where to Eat Nearby:

Plymouth has a fine collection of food options, ranging from Thai to country Italian to excellent delis and pubs. Biederman’s Deli serves giant sandwiches and has a foosball table that will please all ages; call ahead to order boxed lunches to-go for your island picnic. Canoe and kayak rentals are also available at outfitters in Plymouth.


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