Kayaking on the Contoocook

Written by Alex LeChance (www.averageandactive.com)

I spent 5 hours venturing 9 miles of the Contoocook River today thanks to the Contoocook Canoee Co. Twenty-Nine dollars grants patrons use of a one-person kayak for the day and a ride up river. Pat gave out maps and a quick paddling tutorial for those who needed it before putting us on the bus. The trip starts right next to one of New Hampshire’s famous covered bridges in Contoocook Village and travels back into the state capital where my car was parked.

The majority of the trip passed through quiet forest with only a soundtrack of birdsong. Turtles sun bathed on rocks and fish swam directly below my boat. All the stress and cares of my week exited from by body rapidly as the sun cooked my skin.

Slowly more signs of life appeared through the trees. Small camps and large houses adorned the banks. Fishing boats and pontoon boats started floating around me as the river widened. Multiple rope swings lined the shores. I stopped at Mast Yard State forest for lunch in the woods. The river passes under New Hampshire Heroes Recreational Bridge in this 400 acre forest.

The final stop on this journey is a gem of a beach called “Daisy Beach” apparently named after a dog. This is part of Concord’s Lehtinen park with a network of trails that connect to the previously mentioned bridge and forest. This is perfect for swimming, picnicking and sun bathing. Kids and adventurous adults can hurl themselves into the water on a rope swing.

A quick 2 mile paddle brought me back to my car and ended this adventure. Contoocook River Canoe Co. offers trips of different lengths on the Merrimack River as well and paddlers can also skip the shuttle and enter the river directly at the shop. With kayaks, canoes and paddle boards for rent and sale and a fully stocked shop of boating supplies there is a way for everyone to get out on the river for an hour or an entire day.