New Hampshire

Howard Caplan

Wooden Canoe Maniac
We are attending a wedding in NH toward the end of August and wondering if any of you New Englanders could suggest some paddling places. At this point we are planning to fly although with the collapse of the airline industry my family may see the wisdom in driving with canoe on roof.
We will be in a "lakes" region just south of the White Mountains - can't remember the name of the resorty looking town at this moment.

If you're inclined toward flat water paddling, Squam Lake, in the Ashland/Holdeness area is a wonderful resource. My wife and I paddle and camp there as often as we can. The lake can be a bit of a washing machine on the weekends with all of the power boat traffic, but if you've got a weekday to spare it can be absolutely fantastic. We belong to the Squam Lakes Association. They've got a website which might provide you with details. They charge non-members for parking, but I've never heard of anyone paying it except those that come in asking how to pay. The association owns a couple of islands which can provide a destination for an afternoon, or a stopping point for a longer paddle.
Umbagog is nice. Also you can do a trip down the Connecticut River. Primitive campsites are established almost all the way. If you want to do the Connecticut in style, you can do it by staying at Inns along the way. One popular venue I would stay clear away from is the Saco, which has become too crowded with beer floaters.
I did a portion of the Saco last summer during mid-week and it was great. People scattered here and there along the river but definitely not the beer crowd. It was a very enjoyable, and easy, river float. As mentioned earlier, Squam is nice, especially the northern end. Just about any of the smaller ponds and lakes in the Lakes Region are nice, or parts of the Pemigewassett River. Or....
Maybe the Saco is getting cleaned up. My experience goes back 20 years and I remember canoes loaded to the sky with kegs. I think they once had a river patrol going, confiscating beer. These were not eco-tourist types. I'd be interested to hear that things have gotten better.
Mid week on Big Squam is usually fairly quiet..Place to see is Church Island. First Boys Camp in the USA...nothing left of the camps except the history. Open air church with stone alter and a nice place to visit...Busy Church service on Sunday. AND if they are still running, there is a tour of the Lake with the "On golden Pond" movie sites... Was the caretaker of Church Island for 5 years....LOL Know of alot of quiet little ponds to paddle if your interested ...Living here in Maine now but know some nice little places to paddle.