Launch Into the Merrimack Paddle Challenge

Presented by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, Five Rivers Conservation Trust, Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust, and the Merrimack River Watershed Council

Kelly Whalen | June 16, 2021
Paddlers on the Merrimack River

The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, Five Rivers Conservation Trust, Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust, and the Merrimack River Watershed Council, announced a two-state Merrimack Paddle Challenge this summer.

Merrimack Paddle Challenge logo
The do-it-yourself challenge runs from June 15 through September 30, 2021 along the Merrimack River and its tributaries. The four sponsoring groups have mapped out a collection of five paddling adventures in the Merrimack River watershed, specially chosen to maximize fun and opportunities to learn more about the ecosystem of the Merrimack watershed that stretches from Franklin, New Hampshire to Newburyport, Massachusetts.

“The Merrimack Paddle Challenge will be great inspiration for outdoor adventurers to experience the beauty of the Merrimack River and its watershed,” states Jack Savage, president of the Forest Society. “As many may recall, we premiered a documentary, The Merrimack: River at Risk, in 2020, in collaboration with Jerry Monkman and Ecophotography. The film explores the threats to the Merrimack River and its watershed, the health of which is critical to communities in both New Hampshire and Massachusetts. We hope by getting people out paddling in the watershed they’ll more fully appreciate what is at stake in one of the region’s largest and most important watersheds, and see why land protection along the Merrimack and its tributaries is so vitally important.”

Adventurers participating in the challenge will receive a laminated paddle guide for each excursion, complete with maps, locations of put-ins and take-outs, important details about the paddle (length, difficulty, and time), and information about points of interest along the way. Participants will also be entered into a raffle to win prizes at the end of the challenge period.

A kayaker paddles on the Merrimack River.
Take in the views from Muchyedo Banks on one of the five paddles.

“The first step to taking care of our natural resources is to realize their awesomeness,” states Matthew Thorne, executive director of the Merrimack River Watershed Council. “Every time we get out on the river it refreshes our sense of duty to steward all of that beautiful land and water."

“The paddle guides will help you explore some hidden jewels within the Merrimack River watershed,” adds Jane Calvin, executive director of Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust. “On-the-water access is an underappreciated asset in our area’s rivers and we hope these guides will showcase not just the beautiful shorelines and wildlife, but how important our water resources are to our quality of life.”

All paddle excursions are designed to be beginner to intermediate flat-water paddles, between 4 and 9 miles in length, and 3 to 5 hours on the water. The five paddles include:

  • Concord River Paddle in Lowell and Billerica, Massachusetts
  • Cross-Border Merrimack Paddle from Nashua, New Hampshire to Tyngsborough, Massachusetts
  • Contoocook River Paddle in Contoocook and Concord, New Hampshire
  • Muchyedo Banks Paddle in Penacook, Boscawen, and Canterbury, New Hampshire
  • Silver Maple Floodplain Paddle in Concord, New Hampshire

“The Contoocook River Paddle offers an option for experienced and novice paddlers alike and showcases what this challenge is all about,” states Liz Short, executive director of Five Rivers Conservation Trust. “Conserving land along our waterways makes for healthier communities - providing clean water, access to nature, and fun outdoor adventures.”

To register participants can visit For more information email Participants are encouraged to share their photos on social media at #MerrimackPaddleChallenge and to watch the documentary, The Merrimack: River at Risk to learn more about their adventure along the Merrimack River.


Merrimack Paddle Challenge Partners & Sponsors

The four logos of the participating organizations in the Merrimack Paddle Challenge.

Presented by: Five Rivers Conservation TrustLowell Parks & Conservation TrustMerrimack River Watershed Council & Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests