Merrimack Paddle Challenge

Father and son paddling a kayak on the Merrimack.

Merrimack Paddle Challenge logo

Hop in the water with your family or friends for a do-it-yourself paddling adventure. Paddle a collection of five destinations in the Merrimack River watershed, specially chosen to maximize fun and learn more about the ecosystem of this watershed that spans from New Hampshire to Massachusetts. This challenge is now FREE and takes place all summer and fall.

We provide digital paddle guides for each excursion, complete with maps, locations of put ins and take outs, important details about the paddle (length, difficulty, time) and information about what you'll see along the way!  This is a great way to get more familiar with one of the region's largest and most important watersheds, and learn why land protection along the Merrimack and its tributaries is still so vitally important.

The paddles:

Print out these guides at home and take them with you on your paddling adventures. All paddle excursions are designed to be beginner to intermediate flat-water paddles, of between 4 and 9 miles in length and 2-5 hours on the water.

*The Contoocook River Paddle is a one-way paddle using shuttle service available from Contoocook River Canoe Company. Alternatively, there is an out-and-back option for paddlers not wanting to use the shuttle service.

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

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

Kayakers paddle on the Contoocook River.
2021 Merrimack Paddle Challenge participants on the Contoocook River. (Photo: Nancy Goodell)


  • Pack your paddling gear and boat, and head out on your own schedule. Be sure to recreate responsibly and read these safety tips.
  • Share your adventures. Tag your photos on social media with #MerrimackPaddleChallenge as you explore.
  • Learn more: Watch The Merrimack: River at Risk online at your lesiure; the film highlights efforts to protect the forests and waterways of the Merrimack River watershed. Find out more about the history of the region from the Indigenous NH Collaborative Collective's StoryMap, which includes five points of interest you can visit in the watershed.