The Pemigewasset River /ˌpɛmɪdʒəˈwɑːsɪt/, known locally as "The Pemi", is a river in the state of New Hampshire, the United States. It is 65.0 miles (104.6 km) in length and (with its tributaries) drains approximately 1,021 square miles (2,644 km2). The name "Pemigewasset" comes from the Abenaki word bemijijoasek [bəmidzidzoasək], meaning "where side (entering) current is".
The Pemigewasset originates at Profile Lake in Franconia Notch State Park, in the town of Franconia. It flows south through the White Mountains and merges with the Winnipesaukee River to form the Merrimack River at Franklin. The Merrimack then flows through southern New Hampshire, northeastern Massachusetts and into the Atlantic Ocean.
The Interstate 93 highway runs parallel with the river between Franconia Notch and New Hampton. The river passes through the communities of Lincoln, North Woodstock, Woodstock, Thornton, Campton, Plymouth, Holderness, Ashland, Bridgewater, Bristol, New Hampton, Hill, Sanbornton, and Franklin.
The river descends over waterfalls in Franconia Notch, including "The Basin", passes cascades in North Woodstock, and drops over Livermore Falls north of Plymouth. The remainder of the northern Pemi, from Lincoln to Ashland, passes over copious gravel bars and attracts numerous boaters and fishermen. Below Ashland, the river is impounded by the Ayers Island Dam, a hydroelectric facility, for over five miles. A short stretch of heavy whitewater is found below the dam, before the river reaches the impoundment zone for the Franklin Falls flood control reservoir. The river crosses one additional hydroelectric dam below Franklin Falls before joining the Winnipesaukee River in the center of Franklin.
The Pemigewasset watershed consists of over 1,100 miles (1,800 km) of rivers and 17,000 acres (69 km2) of lake, pond, and reservoir area. The watershed comprises about 20 percent of the Merrimack's total watershed area.
Major tributaries include (from north to south):
The Beebe River is a 16.7-mile-long (26.9 km) river located in the White Mountains of New Hampshire in the United States. It is a tributary of the Pemigewasset River, part of the Merrimack River watershed.
The Beebe River begins at Black Mountain Pond on the southern slopes of Sandwich Mountain, a 3,993-foot (1,217 m) summit in the southern White Mountains, in the town of Sandwich. The river drops off the mountain to the south, then turns west to travel through Sandwich Notch, staying in a wooded valley and entering the town of Campton. The valley broadens as the river approaches the village of Campton Hollow, where the river reaches New Hampshire Route 175 and drops over some small waterfalls. The river passes by the old industrial community of Beebe River and reaches the Pemigewasset River next to Interstate 93.East Branch Pemigewasset River
The East Branch of the Pemigewasset River is a 15.8-mile-long (25.4 km) river located in the White Mountains of New Hampshire in the United States. It is a tributary of the Pemigewasset River, part of the Merrimack River watershed.
The East Branch is a longer and larger river than the river that it flows into, but it is named a branch of the main stem because its source lies deep in the Pemigewasset Wilderness of the White Mountains, while the main Pemigewasset River flows directly from Franconia Notch, a major pass through the mountains. The East Branch begins in the locality known as Stillwater, in a wide valley north of Mount Carrigain and Mount Hancock, where several large brooks converge. The river flows west and southwest through the heart of the Pemigewasset Wilderness, picking up tributaries such as the North Fork of the Pemigewasset and Franconia Branch before reaching, at the Lincoln Woods Visitor Center, the Kancamagus Highway stretch of New Hampshire Route 112.
Now into developed areas, the East Branch meets the Hancock Branch coming from the southeast and flows past the Loon Mountain ski area to the village of Lincoln, New Hampshire. The river crosses into Woodstock and ends at the Pemigewasset River just downstream from the Interstate 93 highway bridges.Franklin Falls Dam
The Franklin Falls Dam is located on the Pemigewasset River in the city of Franklin, New Hampshire, in the United States. The dam was constructed between 1939 and 1943 by the Army Corps of Engineers and extends for 0.75 miles (1.21 km) across the river. During its construction, the neighboring residents of the town of Hill were forced to relocate to higher ground due to rising water levels created by the dam. The reservoir formed by the dam has a permanent pool covering 440 acres (180 ha), and the total flood storage capacity is 2,800 acres (1,100 ha). The total area of the project, including surrounding managed lands, is 3,683 acres (1,490 ha). The stretch of the Pemigewasset River potentially impounded by the dam extends 12.5 miles (20 km) north to Ayers Island Dam in the town of Bristol, and the watershed flowing to the dam extends north all the way into the White Mountains.
The Franklin Falls Reservoir hosts a variety of recreational activities, including hiking, mountain biking, fishing, kayaking, hunting, and snowshoeing.Lost River (New Hampshire)
The Lost River (shown on USGS maps as Moosilauke Brook for part of its course) is a 6.5-mile-long (10.5 km) stream located in the White Mountains of New Hampshire in the United States. It is a tributary of the Pemigewasset River, part of the Merrimack River watershed.
The Lost River begins in Kinsman Notch, one of the major passes through the White Mountains. As it flows through the notch, it passes through Lost River Gorge, an area where enormous boulders falling off the flanking walls of the notch at the close of the last Ice Age have covered the river, creating a network of boulder caves. The gorge is owned by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests and is operated as a tourist attraction, with trails and ladders accessing many of the caves.
The river flows southeast from Kinsman Notch, turning northeast when joined by Jackman Brook. At this point, the river becomes known as Moosilauke Brook on USGS maps, the name referring to Mount Moosilauke, the 4,810-foot (1,470 m) mountain which rises over the western wall of Kinsman Notch. The river flows through the granite gorge of Agassiz Basin and joins the Pemigewasset River in the village of North Woodstock.
New Hampshire Route 112 follows the Lost River/Moosilauke Brook for the stream's entire length.Mad River (Pemigewasset River tributary)
The Mad River is a 17.9-mile-long (28.8 km) river located in the White Mountains of New Hampshire in the United States. It is a tributary of the Pemigewasset River, part of the Merrimack River watershed.
The Mad River begins at the Greeley Ponds in Mad River Notch, a gap between Mount Osceola to the west and Mount Kancamagus to the east, in the township of Livermore, New Hampshire. The river descends to the south, followed by the Greeley Pond Trail, to the town of Waterville Valley, where the West Branch enters.
After winding through the Waterville Valley Resort community, the Mad River proceeds southwest over continuous boulder-strewn rapids into a corner of the town of Thornton, eventually settling out in Campton Pond in the town of Campton. Passing over a small hydroelectric dam at Campton Upper Village, the river descends over some small waterfalls and enters the floodplain of the Pemigewasset River, which it joins near Interstate 93.
For most of the river's length below Waterville Valley, it is paralleled by New Hampshire Route 49.Mount Field (New Hampshire)
Mount Field is a mountain located in Grafton County, New Hampshire. The mountain is named after Darby Field (1610–1649), who in 1642 made the first known ascent of Mount Washington. Mount Field is the highest peak of the Willey Range of the White Mountains. Mt. Field is flanked to the northwest by Mount Tom, and to the southwest by Mount Willey.
Mt. Field stands on the borders of three watersheds. On its northeast side, it drains into the Saco River, and thence into the Gulf of Maine in Maine. On the south side, it drains into the North Fork Pemigewasset River, and thence into the East Branch, Pemigewasset River, and Merrimack River, which reaches the sea in Massachusetts. On the west side, Field drains into the Zealand River, and thence into the Ammonoosuc River, Connecticut River, and into Long Island Sound in Connecticut.Mount Willey
Mount Willey is a mountain located in Grafton County, New Hampshire. The mountain is named after Samuel Willey, Jr. (1766–1826) and his family, who in 1825 moved into a house in Crawford Notch. The family was killed a year later in August 1826 during a landslide.
Mount Willey is part of the Willey Range of the White Mountains, of which it is the southernmost and second highest. It, along with Mount Field, forms the western wall of Crawford Notch. The summit is just outside the Crawford Notch State Park; it is at the northeast corner of the Pemigewasset Wilderness.
The north and east faces of Mount Willey drain directly into the Saco River, thence into the Gulf of Maine at Saco, Maine. The south and west sides drain into the North Fork of the Pemigewasset River, thence into the East Branch, the Pemigewasset River, Merrimack River, and into the Gulf of Maine at Newburyport, Massachusetts.Newfound River (New Hampshire)
The Newfound River is a 3.2-mile-long (5.1 km) river located in central New Hampshire in the United States. It is a tributary of the Pemigewasset River, part of the Merrimack River watershed.
The Newfound River begins at the outlet of Newfound Lake in Bristol, New Hampshire. The river drops rapidly through the town of Bristol, passing over several hydroelectric dams before reaching the Pemigewasset.
Major tributaries of the Newfound River (via Newfound Lake) are the Fowler River and the Cockermouth River.North Fork East Branch Pemigewasset River
The North Fork of the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River is a 6.9-mile-long (11.1 km) river located in the White Mountains of New Hampshire in the United States. It is a tributary of the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River, part of the Merrimack River watershed.
The North Fork begins at the outlet of Ethan Pond in the southeastern corner of Bethlehem, New Hampshire and just north of the northeastern corner of the Pemigewasset Wilderness in the heart of the White Mountains. The river flows west and enters the town limits of Lincoln, the second-largest town by area in New Hampshire. Passing under the Appalachian Trail (and entering the Pemigewasset Wilderness), the North Fork drops over Thoreau Falls and encounters Whitewall Brook flowing south out of Zealand Notch. Turning southwest, the North Fork flows through a deep valley with Mount Bond to the west, and joins the East Branch of the Pemigewasset in a broad valley directly north of Mount Hancock.
The North Fork is paralleled by the Appalachian Trail from Ethan Pond to Thoreau Falls, and by the Thoreau Falls Trail from there to the East Branch of the Pemigewasset.Owl's Head (Franconia, New Hampshire)
Owl's Head is a 4,025-foot (1,227 m) mountain in Franconia, New Hampshire. It lies between the Franconia Branch of the Pemigewasset River (to its east) and Lincoln Brook (to its west and south), in the Pemigewasset Wilderness of the White Mountain National Forest.
It is best known as one of the 48 White Mountains "four-thousand footers", and stands out among them mostly for what it lacks:
In height, it is 43rd of the 48.
It is the only one of the 48 without an officially maintained path to the summit, although an unofficial, unmaintained herd path comes within 0.2 miles (300 m).
The trees at its summit block (except when deep snow has fallen) any view beyond themselves. (There are, however, nice views from the Owls Head Slide while climbing up the unmaintained path to the summit.)
It is remote from approaches by road, due to
the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River, between it and the Kancamagus Highway to the south,
Franconia Ridge (and its steep and tall east face), between it and Interstate 93 to the west,
Garfield Ridge, between it and U.S. Route 3 to the north, and
the Twin Range and Willey Range, between it and U.S. Route 302 to the east.Probably for these reasons, it receives (as does Mount Isolation) a disproportionately frequent role as the last 4000-footer waiting to be climbed by those about to complete the list of 48.
In the fall of 2005, it was discovered that the traditional summit of Owl's Head (reached by the unmaintained beaten path) is actually a lower peak, and the true summit is approximately 0.2 mi north along the ridgeline. For now, the 4,000-footer committee is accepting climbs to the false summit.Profile Lake
Profile Lake is a 13-acre (53,000 m2) water body located in Franconia Notch in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, at the foot of Cannon Mountain. The lake was given its name due to its location directly beneath the Old Man of the Mountain, a famous rock formation which collapsed in 2003. The lake is near the height of land in Franconia Notch; the lake's outlet is the Pemigewasset River, which flows south to the Merrimack River and ultimately the Gulf of Maine (Atlantic Ocean) at Newburyport, Massachusetts.
The lake is classified as a coldwater fishery, with observed species including brook trout.Sandwich Mountain
Sandwich Mountain (or Sandwich Dome) is a mountain located on the border between Carroll (Town of Sandwich) and Grafton (Town of Waterville Valley) counties, New Hampshire. The mountain is part of the Sandwich Range of the White Mountains.
Sandwich Mountain is flanked to the northeast by Mount Tripyramid, and to the southwest by Mount Weetamoo across Sandwich Notch. Several maintained hiking trails pass over the summit.
The north side of Sandwich Mtn. drains into Drakes Brook, thence into the Mad River, Pemigewasset River, Merrimack River, and thence into the Gulf of Maine at Newburyport, Massachusetts. The west side of Sandwich Mtn. drains into Smarts Brook, thence into the Mad River. The southwest flank of Sandwich Mtn. drains into the Beebe River, thence into the Pemigewasset River. The south side of Sandwich Mtn. drains into the Cold River, Bearcamp River, Ossipee River, and the Saco River, which reaches the Gulf of Maine at Saco, Maine. The east side of Sandwich Mtn. drains into Pond Brook, thence into the Cold River.Sandwich Range
The Sandwich Range is located in the White Mountains of New Hampshire in the United States, north of the Lakes Region and south of the Kancamagus Highway. Although the range is not outstanding for its elevation, it is very rugged and has excellent views of the surrounding lakes, mountains, and forests.
The Sandwich Range extends east-west about 30 miles from Conway, New Hampshire on the Saco River to Campton on the Pemigewasset River. The Kancamagus Highway runs along the north side of the mountains, from Conway to North Woodstock. The highest peak in the range is Mount Tripyramid, with an elevation of 4,170 feet (1,270 m).The east part of the range drains by various streams into the Saco River and thence into the Atlantic Ocean at Saco, Maine. The west part drains into the East Branch Pemigewasset River and Mad River, thence into the Pemigewasset, Merrimack and into the sea at Newburyport, Massachusetts.
The range shares its name with the town of Sandwich, situated at the range's western end.Scar Ridge
Scar Ridge, also known as Scar Ridge (West Peak), is a mountain located in Grafton County, New Hampshire. It is part of the White Mountains. It is officially trailless and several different routes are possible. Scar Ridge is flanked to the west by Loon Mountain, to the northwest by Black Mountain, and to the east by Mount Osceola.
Scar Ridge stands within the watershed of the Pemigewasset River, which drains into the Merrimack River, and into the Gulf of Maine at Newburyport, Massachusetts. The northeast side of Scar Ridge drains into the Hancock Branch, a tributary of the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River. The southwest side of Scar Ridge drains into Telford Brook, Mack Brook, and Little East Pond Brook, all of which drain into Eastman Brook, and thence into the Pemigewasset.Smith River (Pemigewasset River tributary)
The Smith River is a 25.0-mile-long (40.2 km) river located in central New Hampshire in the United States. It is a tributary of the Pemigewasset River, part of the Merrimack River watershed.
The Smith River begins at the outlet of Tewksbury Pond in Grafton, New Hampshire. The river flows southwest and then southeast through Grafton, passing through Kilton Pond. Continuing through Danbury, the river remains generally flat until shortly before reaching the Alexandria-Hill town line, where it enters a narrow valley and produces several miles of whitewater. Passing under the New Hampshire Route 3A bridge at the Bristol-Hill town line, the Smith River drops over Profile Falls and arrives at the Pemigewasset River.
U.S. Route 4 follows the Smith River from its source to Danbury. NH-104 follows the river from Danbury to the east side of Alexandria.South Branch Baker River
The South Branch of the Baker River is a 15.6-mile-long (25.1 km) river located in western New Hampshire in the United States. It is a tributary of the Baker River, part of the Pemigewasset River and Merrimack River watersheds.
The river rises in the town of Orange, New Hampshire, on high ground north of Mount Cardigan. It flows north through the town of Dorchester, enters Wentworth, and drops rapidly to the Baker River.Squam River
The Squam River is a 3.6-mile-long (5.8 km) river located in central New Hampshire in the United States. The river is the outlet of Squam Lake, the second-largest lake in New Hampshire, and it is a tributary of the Pemigewasset River, which itself is a tributary of the Merrimack River.
The Squam River first appears as a narrow channel in Holderness, New Hampshire between Squam Lake and Little Squam Lake downstream. The two lakes have the same elevation, due to a dam below the outlet to Little Squam, so the river in Holderness village is not free-flowing. Below Little Squam Lake the river proceeds south for over a mile before reaching the dam which controls the two lakes' water level. Below this point, the river quickly reaches the backwater from a mill dam in the town of Ashland.
In Ashland, the river drops 50 feet (15 m) in 0.2 miles (0.3 km), sufficient to provide hydropower for numerous industries when the town originally grew in the 19th century. Below the center of town, the river wanders southeast under railroad tracks and Interstate 93 and past the Ashland sewage treatment plant before entering the Pemigewasset River.Webster Lake (New Hampshire)
Webster Lake is a 606-acre (2.45 km2) water body in Merrimack County in the central portion of the U.S. state of New Hampshire, in the city of Franklin. Water from Webster Lake flows to the Pemigewasset River shortly above its confluence with the Winnipesaukee River to form the Merrimack.
Webster Lake has two public beaches operated by the city of Franklin, one on either side of the lake. Webster Lake is surrounded by forests, and roads follow most of the lakeshore, allowing frequent views. There is boating access adjacent to Lagace Beach on New Hampshire Route 11.
The lake is classified as a warmwater fishery, with observed species including rainbow trout, brown trout, smallmouth and largemouth bass, chain pickerel, horned pout, and white perch.West Branch Mad River
The West Branch of the Mad River is a 3.2-mile-long (5.1 km) stream located in the White Mountains of New Hampshire in the United States. It is a tributary of the Mad River, part of the Pemigewasset River and ultimately the Merrimack River watershed.
The West Branch rises east of Thornton Gap, between Mount Osceola and Mount Tecumseh, two major summits of the White Mountains. The stream flows east, paralleled by the Tripoli Road, until it encounters Osceola Brook joining from the north, then turns south into the intervale in which the village of Waterville Valley is situated. The West Branch joins the Mad River close to the center of the Waterville Valley resort.
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