Annual New Year's Day Paddle on the Winnipesaukee River

FRANKLIN — The Merrimack Valley Paddlers and Friends of the Winnipesaukee River in conjunction with the N.H. Department of Environmental Services and Choose Franklin will be having their annual New Year's Day Paddle on the Winnipesaukee River in Franklin, Tilton, and Northfield again this year.

Paddlers will take to the water between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. with novice and intermediate boaters paddling the "Upper" Winnipesaukee from Route 140 to Riverfront Park in Tilton. Expert boaters will paddle the "Lower" Winnipesaukee from Cross Mill Road in Northfield to downtown Franklin taking out at Trestle View Park. "This has become an annual tradition for paddlers and spectators alike and typically brings in paddlers from the New England states and beyond," said Ken Norton of Friends of the Winnipesaukee River.

Choose Franklin will be hosting spectators at Trestle View Park in in Franklin for First Day and will provide a warming tent, coffee, cocoa and chili. Trestle View Park offers excellent viewing for paddlers shooting the last set of Class III and IV rapids on the lower Winnipesaukee. Spectators can walk, snowshoe or ski on the Winnipesaukee River trail from Trestle View Park as well as the section from Rt. 140 to Tilton to watch paddlers coming down the upper section.

The goal of this year's paddle is to draw attention to proposed bridge over the Winnipesaukee River between Northfield and Tilton linking the existing sections of the Winnipesaukee River Trail. " The Winnipesaukee River Trail is a great example of local government, business, non-profits and community members all working collaboratively with state and federal government to clean up and conserve shore land green-space and provide alternative transportation and recreation for pedestrians" according to Rick Silverberg from the Winnipesaukee River Trail Association.

The bridge is planned to be located near the old mill dam just upstream of the island in Tilton on conservation land which each of the towns have acquired. A trail head will be located on the former site of Ernie's Used Cars which is being cleaned up through a cooperative effort of the Tilton Conservation Commission, Town of Tilton, NH Department of Environmental Services, US Department of Environmental Protection and the Winnipesaukee River Trail Association.

The Winnipesaukee River Trail is part of a regional pedestrian trail network which will eventually connect with Laconia and Meredith and Lebanon and Boscawen. The Winnipesaukee River Trail Association is working to raise the required match money to complete the bridge. Donations can be made to the Winnipesaukee River Trail Association PO Box 464, Franklin, NH 03235 or

Paddlers will gather at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Franklin which will be open from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. for warming up socializing and refreshments hosted by the Merrimack Valley Paddlers. Merrimack Valley Paddlers will be encouraging those attending to bring food donations for the local soup kitchen. For more information about this event contact Ken Norton 286-3890