I plan on revisiting the Upper Ammonoosuc River this summer and combine a paddle with a hike of the Percy Peaks Loop. Bill Schomburg, a dear NFCT friend who passed away recently, told me about Percy Peaks and the Cohos Trail, which crosses the NFCT on the Upper Ammo, when I first met him in 2014. I think these two intersecting trips will make a great weekend.
I paddled the Upper Ammonoosuc from Gord’s Corner Store in West Milan to the new Stark Access (NFCT Map 7) in the spring 2015. The river in this stretch is quiet and meandering. In June, a canopy of soft spring green bends over the river along the way. I also have driven through the valley in fall and recommend it as an exceptional trip for foliage viewing.
A slow moving ten miles can take half a day with time to stop for lunch and enjoy the scenery. At normal flows wide golden sand bars pop up next to deep swimming holes making lovely picnic spots and good fishing. The river is road-side, but you don’t notice. In the last mile or so houses become visible until the leaves are fully flushed out.
The Stark access is a convenient take out with good parking on river left just above Stark Village. If you enjoy class II rapids as I do, you will want to continue downstream another quarter-mile to the Stark covered bridge to take advantage of some fun whitewater.
Put in at Gord’s Corner Store at the intersection of Routes 110 and 110-A. Here, NFCT constructed stairs lead down to the water, and you can park at the store. Gord also has a deli to supply your lunch, offers a shuttle service and rents canoes, so everything you need is right there!
If you haven’t had enough paddling, the river continues quietly for another five miles to Emerson Road (the way to Percy Peaks) or eight miles beyond that to the Connecticut River in Groveton. The character remains quiet with a few punctuated rapids and a number of dam carries. See the NFCT trip planner tool for details.
The Percy Peaks Loop is described in detail on the Hike New England web site and is recommended by the Cohos Trail as one of the Dozen Best Day Hikes. I have scouted these unique twin mountains from the river and roadside. Their broad granite slab-covered tops have captured my imagination every time. This 6.7 mile hike is reported to take a half day.
Where to Stay
- Camp or take a room at Percy Lodge and Campground.
- Paddle up and camp at one of the three NFCT campsites along the Upper Ammonoosuc (river access only). NFCT trip planner, NFCT Map 7 and the NFCT Guidebook for information.
- Rent the Ammo Cabin situated right on the river from Gord’s Corner Store. Drive in or paddle up, this rustic cabin rental is a great place to hang out, fish and play in the river.
- Stay at the Stark Village Inn for a charming, traditional Bed & Breakfast experience.