This section of the Contoocook River running from Contoocook Village, NH to the Contoocook Canoe Co. in Concord, NH is a 9 mile journey along a tree-lined river replete with fallen trees and limbs to avoid. If you’re lucky, you may see some wildlife, Canada Geese, Blue Heron, turtles and eagles are occasionally spotted here. The high river banks and feeling of seclusion will make you forget you’re so close to the city.
WHY PADDLE HERE? – For a leisurely 9 mile paddle on a tree-lined river, a shorter family paddle to Daisy Beach or a fall foliage paddle.
THE PADDLING ROUTE – We rented a tandem kayak from the Contoocook Canoe Co. 9 Horse Hill Rd. Concord, NH opting for their 9 mi./14.5 km. one way trip. What a value at only $30 for 2 paddlers and 1 tandem kayak, including transportation. After the usual safety briefing, we were shuttled upriver to the Contoocook Village kayak launch by a very helpful employee who carried our kayak down the short, but steep, embankment to the river launch site.
Once launching, our group began paddling downriver and within a couple of minutes, we encountered what would be the first of many fallen trees and branches congesting the river.
We continued paddling downriver taking our time, always on the lookout to avoid the next sunken tree or limb.
After paddling several miles, we were ready to pull over and stretch our legs, but most of the river is tree-lined, with high banks and few places to pull over. The few decent spots we did eye, were already filled with other kayakers and we were forced to continue paddling until reaching Daisy Beach at the 7 mi./11.2 km. mark.
Thank goodness for Daisy Beach, a welcome relief after a long paddle without a break. By the time we arrived, we were more than ready to ditch the kayak and eat lunch sitting in our comfortable camp chairs, yes, that’s right, camp chairs. I can’t emphasize enough how much of a difference having chairs can make during a long paddling trip, or any paddling trip, especially as you age.
Excluding the Wilderness Girls paddlers, I’ve never seen any other paddlers bring chairs with them and I often wonder why. Which would you rather sit on, the ground, your kayak or a perfectly comfortable chair? Call me a wooss if you like, but I’ll always choose a chair over sitting on the ground.
Stow one in your kayak hatch, or under the bungee cords on your deck if you can, but always bring a chair, it really does make a difference.
We rested and ate lunch at Daisy Beach, which I would describe as a sweet little riverfront swimming hole. It has a couple of picnic tables and a rope swing. The rope swing appears to be popular among the locals and provided entertainment for the rest of us.
We finished our lunch and re-launched for the final leg of the trip, an easy 2 mi./3.2 km. paddle bringing us directly back to the Contoocook Canoe Co.’s own riverfront launch site. The staff awaits your arrival, they’re eager to help you exit your kayak and carry your personal belongings back to your car for you. Bring cash to tip the staff, they deserve it.
The only wildlife we saw during this trip was a flock of Canada Geese on the side of the river as we silently paddled by.
I’m not sure how I feel about this trip, 7 miles is just too long for me to paddle without a guaranteed place to break. I most likely won’t ever paddle here again, but on the off-chance I do, it will be during fall foliage and I will launch directly from the canoe company’s own put-in, enabling me to paddle upriver to Daisy Beach and beyond, paddling only as far as I choose to go.
In my opinion, the lower section of this trip is much more enjoyable to paddle with fewer obstacles to avoid, but there is a trade-off, unlike the upper section, it has less nature and some development, which personally, I don’t mind. Every paddler has different likes and dislikes, so you’ll just have to judge this trip for yourself.
CAUTIONS! – Watch out for the numerous fallen trees, branches, rocks and debris at, or just below, the waterline. In the busy season, be prepared to paddle almost the entire trip without a break as you may not be able to find an unoccupied space to land before reaching Daisy Beach, at the 7mi./11.2km. mark.
PARKING & LAUNCH – There is plenty of parking at the Contoocook River Canoe Co. where we rented a tandem kayak for this trip. We took a shuttle to the launch site at Contoocook Village where you’ll find signage and a path leading down a short, but steep, embankment to the launch.
RESTROOMS – NO. There are portable toilets at the Contoocook River Canoe Co. but they are too disgusting to use. Visit the Dunkin Donut shop, 98 Fisherville Rd. (Rte 3 near Bog Rd.) prior to arrival.
WHEN TO VISIT – Visit during summer if you are paddling with children to swim at Daisy Beach. Opt for a shorter trip by launching directly from the Contoocook Canoe Co.’s own launch and paddling 2 mi./3.2 km. upriver to Daisy Beach and as far beyond as you wish. Otherwise, a fall foliage paddle is the best time to paddle this section of the river.
Skip this trip entirely if you have to travel any distance to get here, there are just too many better waterways in NH to paddle than this section of the Contoocook River.
DIRECTIONS – Click Here.
CONTOOCOOK CANOE CO. – Click Here.