Explore the Merrimack
Boating, kayaking or canoeing
Great! You’ll find a wide variety of experiences and environments—ranging from lake-like calm water to fierce (and sometimes dangerous) rapids and tidal flows.
Here is information on each of the four major regions of the Merrimack:
the Four Major regions of the Merrimack:
From the sea to the Great Stone Dam in Lawrence, 30 miles. Most of this stretch is tidal, which can present challenges for paddlers—particularly when the tide is going out. This is the busiest stretch of the river, with thousands of power boats docked at marinas, resting on moorings, or entering via boat ramps. Many miles of excellent water for powerboating. Some kayaking happens along this part of the river, but in many areas you’ll contend with wakes and confusing currents.
From the Great Stone Dam in Lawrence to the New Hampshire border, 19 miles. A wide variety of boating options (kayaks, canoes, power boats, crew boats). This region has 2 dams—in Lawrence and Lowell.
From the Mass. border to Garvin’s Falls dam in Bow, 35 miles. This area also supports a good variety of boating options, though it can be shallow and tricky in some parts. Not an ideal place to bring a deep-draft boat. There are 3 dams—in Manchester, Hooksett and Bow.
From Bow to the river’s headwaters, in Franklin—30 miles. This is the arguably the best region for paddlers. A wide range of water conditions (ranging from calm to rapids). Long stretches of wild, unpeopled shorelines, this area is eligible for inclusion on the national list of Wild and Scenic Rivers. Tends to be shallow and rocky in many spots.