The Best Kayaking In New Hampshire

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New Hampshire, the White Mountain State, or known by some as the Granite State, is aptly nicknamed due to its incredible opportunities for the most scenic outdoor adventures. With some of the most diverse kayaking spots on offer, it is no wonder why New Hampshire is such a popular paddling location!

New Hampshire is the perfect location for all kayakers, regardless of your level of skill and experience. With some extraordinary waterways and views to experience, the Granite State is a must-visit for all paddlers. A few popular kayaking spots include Androscoggin River and Umbagog Lake.

Regardless of how long you have experienced the exciting kayaking world, New Hampshire is undoubtedly a location that you need to visit! Whether you are looking for flat, tranquil waters or whitewater rapids, the White Mountain State has it all for you. Find out why New Hampshire should be your next kayaking adventure!

Kayaking In New Hampshire

From being able to see moose in their natural habitat or majestic eagles soaring above your head, kayaking in New Hampshire is sure to provide some of the most incredible paddling experiences. The White Mountain state is home to a plethora of gorgeous lakes and rivers, all of which are surrounded by breathtaking landscapes, including mountains and forests.

Kayaking is highly popular in New Hampshire because of the spectacular alpine scenery, along with the magnificent woodlands that display some of the most beautiful colors in the fall. All of this is guaranteed to create a tranquil and calming experience that kayakers of all skill levels will not want to miss!

For the kayakers out there with a little more experience, you will be able to enjoy the numerous options for challenging yet thrilling whitewater rapids. New Hampshire is exceptional because it offers something exciting for kayakers of all skill levels.

There is so much to do and see in New Hampshire, and you will undoubtedly need much more than one day to explore all of the wonders that the state has to offer. Continue reading to see why New Hampshire has got to be your next kayaking destination.

The Best Kayaking Spots In New Hampshire

Let us start with some of the best kayaking spots in New Hampshire to get you started with planning your next kayaking adventure:

Androscoggin River

Before entering Maine and proceeding towards the Atlantic, the exquisite Androscoggin River flows all the way from Umbagog Lake. Kayaking here is a spectacular way to tour the wilderness, with a mix of Class III and flatwater rapids that cater to kayakers of all skill levels.

The Androscoggin River is a terrific area to go for a paddle whether you are a seasoned kayaker or just starting out. You can take advantage of numerous launch spots along the river while exploring the broad hiking trails along the waters’ edge. With several Class II and III rapids, it’s also an excellent river for whitewater kayakers.

The entire stretch of river from Errol to the reservoir, as well as the Pontook reservoir, can be great for moose sightings. The Androscoggin River is a perfect example of the diverse kayaking experiences that New Hampshire has to offer. 

Umbagog Lake

Because it is surrounded by wilderness and wildlife, Umbagog Lake might be a great place to get away from the sometimes overwhelming city life. Parts of the Lake’s eastern coasts are in Maine, and the Lake is on the state’s border with Maine.

If you want to get away for a weekend of camping, the Lake boasts 33 camping spots that are only accessible by boat. It’s also a great place to go nature watching, as it’s home to a variety of creatures such as wild turkeys, moose, bobcats, coyotes, bears, and even bald eagles.

Umbagog Lake is a massive 7,000 acres and has plenty of waters, islands, and coves to explore, making for a peaceful day of kayaking. At the southwestern end of the Lake, at the Umbagog Lake State Park, there is a public boat ramp to launch your kayak from, with ample parking near the campground. 

The Umbagog Lake State Park also has several kayaks available for rent, which as always, is excellent news for those who do not have their own equipment.

Ammonoosuc River

The 55-mile-long Ammonoosuc River, which begins in the famous Lake Of The Clouds on Mount Washington and flows down to the Connecticut River, is one of the major rivers in the northern white highlands and is the perfect spot for all kayakers. The river’s peculiar name comes from the Abenaki language, which translates to “small, narrow fishing place.”

At Ammonoosuc River, you will find several overhanging trees creating a tranquil canopy to kayak beneath, and the river itself is an exquisite, picturesque site. For the most part, it’s a slow-moving river, which is what makes it ideal for kayaking and multi-day family outings. There are also sandbars where you may take a break and have a picnic.

The Ammonoosuc River is also quite popular with whitewater kayakers. There’s an 8-mile section between Littleton and Lisbon in Coos County that features Class I-II rapids, making it ideal for advanced and beginner kayakers alike. Along with the rapids, the river is also a terrific site to visit if you want to get closer to nature because of its unique ecosystem.

Beautiful landscapes, miles of hiking paths, and plenty of wildlife may all be found here. Kayakers will be able to observe a variety of beautiful creatures, including the endangered bald eagle and peregrine falcons. 

Squam Lake

The beautiful Squam Lake is comprised of tranquil, clear waters that offer kayakers a paradise setting for a day of paddling while taking in the fresh air and landscape. The 6.5 mile-long Lake is interestingly surrounded by roughly 67 nameless islands just waiting to be discovered by kayaking enthusiasts. It is unquestionably worth it to pay a visit to Squam Lake.

Squam Lake is one of New Hampshire’s most beautiful spots, with unequaled tranquility and spectacular beauty. The Lake is also featured prominently in the 1981 film “On Golden Pond.” So, if you have seen the classic movie before, then there is a good possibility that you’ve already seen Squam Lake.

How exciting it could be to be able to say that you have kayaked on the set of a classic movie! Squam Lake is undoubtedly a kayaking spot not to be missed. 

Lake Winnipesaukee 

Lake Winnipesaukee is an immaculate, large lake with a massive surface area of nearly 44,000 acres. Aside from the fun of trying to pronounce its name, Lake Winnipesaukee also offers hundreds of islands that may be explored while kayaking, providing exciting adventures for you, your friends, and the whole family. 

There are also a number of locations where you can launch. However, if you are not a resident of the town, some of the boat ramps may charge a small launch fee. The good news is that there are, however, public launch sites that do not charge a launch fee at all.

The public kayak launch at Meredith’s Leavitt Park Beach is just one of the popular places to begin your kayaking excursion. If you do not have your own, you’ll be able to find kayaks available for rent in both Meredith and Moultonborough areas.

Purity Lake

Purity Lake is yet another noteworthy, picturesque lake in New Hampshire not to be missed by those with a passion for a scenic kayaking adventure. Situated between the White Mountains and the lakes region, Purity Lake offers some of the most beautiful sandy beaches, lovely trees, and crystal-clear water perfect for kayaking. 

This is the perfect location for a multi-day kayaking adventure for the whole family. Purity Lake is a great area to go fishing, with plenty of largemouth bass, bullhead, pickerel, bream, and more species available for a catch.

Right by Purity Lake, you will be able to find Purity Spring Resort, which is a wonderful tiny family-owned resort with loads of activities and hotel options. It is a favorite family getaway weekend spot as they offer kayak rentals which are free if you will be staying over at the lodge, and they also offer water skiing and other fun activities for the whole family.

Purity Lake is a kayaking spot not to be missed!

Merrimack River

Depending on which part of the Merrimack River you paddle, it can be both tranquil for beginners and exhilarating for more experienced kayakers. There are both rapids and flatwater features, making the Merrimack River a fantastic choice for all kayakers of any skill level.

Kayakers will be able to launch into the water from the public boat ramp located at Hooksett for a more casual experience. There is an exit point immediately under the Amoskeag Street bridge in Manchester, which makes it a roughly seven-mile kayaking experience. 

This section of the river features a dam above and below the launch spot, which ultimately makes it easier for beginners to navigate. There are, however, various portions of rapids below the dam and through Manchester that is far better suited to more experienced kayakers looking for more of an adrenaline rush.

Hooksett is also an excellent place for kayak rentals, so make sure to stop by there if you do not have any of your own kayaking equipment.

Kayaking Clubs In New Hampshire

One of the most exciting, fun, and worthwhile things that you can do as a kayaker – aside from taking to the waters, of course – is deciding to join a kayaking club. Kayaking clubs are a great way to meet fellow kayakers in your state and a fun way to explore all the incredible kayaking spots around you. 

Joining a kayaking club can also be a great way to improve your kayaking skill, as many clubs offer training courses. There are many social kayaking groups available in New Hampshire. We will help to get you started by taking you through one of the popular clubs in the state.

AMC – New Hampshire Chapter

The New Hampshire Chapter is the state division of The Appalachian Mountain Club. The club is passionate about connecting people to the outdoors, and in particular, kayaking. The New Hampshire Chapter is explicitly aimed at kayakers who share a passion for protecting and conserving the state’s waterways.

Becoming a member of the New Hampshire Chapter will give you access to weekly kayaking trips catered to all skill levels through the months of March to the end of October. There are also nighttime kayaking outings arranged on Wednesday nights during the Spring and Summer months, which can be an enjoyable experience.

The New Hampshire Chapter also offers several opportunities for learning and training in kayaking, so do not be concerned if you don’t have a whole lot of kayaking experience. Kayakers of all skill levels are welcome to join.

If you are already an experienced kayaker, the club also welcomes new leaders. So, if you would like to be in charge of some of the kayaking trips and assist those with less experience, the New Hampshire Chapter caters perfectly for you too. All you will need is some specific AMC-approved training and ensure that you meet their requirements. 

Kayaking Laws In New Hampshire

Now that you are ready to take to the waters at some of the best kayaking spots in New Hampshire, and maybe even become a part of an exciting kayaking club like the New Hampshire Chapter, you will want to make sure that you are up to scratch with the various state kayaking laws and regulations.

It might seem a little less thrilling, but the regulations are ultimately put in place for your own safety and to ensure maximum enjoyment when kayaking in New Hampshire. Most of the kayaking laws are consistent throughout all states, but there are often a few unique differences that kayakers should be aware of.

Here are a few common questions regarding kayaking laws in New Hampshire:

Do Kayaks Need To Be Registered In New Hampshire?

No. As in most other states, registration only becomes necessary if you are operating a motorized kayak or any other motorized water vessel. If you are paddling the old-fashioned way, then no registration is required.

Do I Need A License To Kayak In New Hampshire?

No, there is no license required to go kayaking in New Hampshire. Once again, only in the case of a motorized water vessel are you required to have a Boaters Education Card from the time you are 16 years old. 

Can You Drink Alcohol While Kayaking In New Hampshire? 

Operating a kayak while under the influence is illegal in New Hampshire. If you are 21 or older and caught with a Blood Alcohol Level of 0,08%, you can be charged with a DUI. That number drops to 0,02% for those younger than 21 years of age. 

Do You Need A Life Jacket While Kayaking In New Hampshire?

In New Hampshire, the law stipulates that there needs to be a United States Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person onboard the kayak. While they do not need to be worn at all times for adults, all children under 13 must wear their size-appropriate USCG-approved life jacket at all times.


With seemingly countless bucket-list-worthy kayaking opportunities on offer, surrounded by some of the most exquisite picturesque scenery in the country, New Hampshire is undoubtedly a kayaking destination that deserves regular visits! Grab a kayak, join a club, and get ready for a memorable kayaking adventure!