Merrimack Paddle Challenge Returns

Kelly Whalen | June 7, 2022
Clean Water
Father and son paddling a kayak on the Merrimack.

Enjoy five paddles in the Merrimack River watershed at your own pace, like the Silver Maple Floodplain Paddle (pictured).


The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, Five Rivers Conservation Trust, Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust, and the Merrimack River Watershed Council, announced the return of the Merrimack Paddle Challenge this summer. The do-it-yourself challenge runs from June 15 through September 30 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.

“Last year’s inaugural Merrimack Paddle Challenge brought more than 300 adventurers onto the Merrimack River and its watershed,” said Jack Savage, president for the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. “A big part of land conservation is creating a connection to the places we protect. The Merrimack Paddle Challenge accomplishes this in a way that is personal, adventurous, and educational.”

The Forest Society’s documentary on the Merrimack River, The Merrimack: River at Risk, was produced 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 encourage participants, and everyone really, to watch this great documentary to learn more about the Merrimack River,” adds Savage.

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 who submit photos of their paddle adventures will also be entered into a raffle to win prizes.

“The first step to taking care of our natural resources is to raise awareness of special places, like the Merrimack River,” states Matthew Thorne, executive director of the Merrimack River Watershed Council. “Protecting our rivers takes a collective effort to advocate for favorable land and water policies, to conserve the land around our rivers and the watershed, and to create a sense of community to steward all of that beautiful land and water."

“The Merrimack River Paddle Challenge was created to show residents along the river the beauty and tranquility of the river and its 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 five excursions 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

“Healthy streams and rivers are negatively impacted by stormwater runoff, erosion, chemical pollution, and litter. When the lands near waterways are protected and maintained with trees and native plants it provides a permanent buffer, or barrier, that is an important component in protecting the health of our waterways,” states Liz Short, executive director of Fiver Rivers Conservation Trust. “Conserving land along our waterways makes for healthier communities - providing clean water, access to nature, and fun outdoor adventures.”

Learn More & Register