Explore the Merrimack River Watershed
From Franklin, New Hampshire to Newburyport, Massachusetts, there is much to see and experience along the Merrimack River watershed. Before or after watchingThe Merrimack: River at Risk — which premiered on NH PBS on July 23 and is now in limited release — you can rediscover this beautiful region by foot or float to learn more about what's at stake.
Here are a few ways you can explore the watershed in New Hampshire on your own, celebrating the clean water and healthy forests that make it a great place to live, work and play:
- Visit the Forest Society's Merrimack River Outdoor Education & Conservation Area in Concord, open to hiking, birdwatching, cross-country skiing, fishing and paddling.
The dramatic floodplain landscape includes oxbows, back channels, and high terraces that host a dynamic collection of overlapping natural communities. A walk down the Les Clark Nature Trail will take you past a pine forest planted in the 1960s, a wooded swamp and beaver-influenced wetlands, a maple-oak-hickory terrace community, and a native silver maple floodplain forest. The silver maple forest is unusual in New Hampshire; it has specifically adapted to life among the shifting sand and silt that line the state’s largest rivers. No other tree species can survive in this challenging environment, so the silver maples end up winning by default.
- More Forest Society reservations in the watershed:
Andrew Brook Forest, Newbury: The Forest Society primarily manages this property for sustainable forestry, productive wildlife habitat, and other conservation benefits in support of the greater Newbury community.
Buxton Forest/Elizabeth Simons Preserve, Weare: A marked trail leads through hemlock woods and past a beaver marsh to the summit of Mount Wallingford.
Hedgehog Mountain Forest, Deering: Hike the Hedgehog Ridge Trail.
High Five, Deering: This property is a fantastic place to enjoy an afternoon picnic or a quiet sunset.
McCabe Forest, Antrim: Two miles of hiking trails wind through upland pine-oak-hemlock forests, fields, old orchards, and silver maple floodplain forest along the Contoocook River.
Monson Village, Milford & Hollis: Visiting Monson Center, a historic gem, is literally a breath of fresh air, and a step back in time. This small portion of history is off the beaten path, but once you find it, you will never forget.
- Paddle the Merrimack or its tributaries.
Watch our Virtual Field Trip in a canoe along the Merrimack River.
You can rent a canoe, kayak or stand up paddleboard at Contoocook River Canoe Company in Concord, NH. The Contoocook River empties into the Merrimack River.
Have your own form of floation? See a list of boat launches in New Hampshire, including along the Merrimack River.
- Bike in the Merrimack River watershed.
Here is a list of recreational rail trails in the Granite State from NH State Parks.
Manchester Moves shares a crowd-sourced maps of biking routes in the Queen City, including one along the Merrimack River.
- Take a taste of the Merrimack River watershed after your adventures.
Many of the region's local breweries rely on the clean water protected by healthy forests to craft their offerings. Here is a map of breweries from Brew New Hampshire. (And non-alcoholic beverages abound as well — Coca Cola of New England is featured in the film because the local bottling factory is one of the largest customers of Manchester Water Works, using more than 100 million gallons of water a year.)