Moving to New Hampshire... looking for paddling spots

My wife and I will be moving from VA to NH this summer. I’ve visited her family a few times and I am loving the number of lakes I’m seeing up there. I’m looking for general advice on places to paddle and fish (back country camping is a huge bonus) in NH or VT.

I am hopeful to catch some lake trout or some pike as well.

Hi, Jay_stroke! I’m in Maine, and while I don’t have specific NH recommendations, I’ll say you won’t have a hard time finding options. This site has a good index of places, plus check out All Trails for finding scenic areas, many of which have water options. Welcome to New England!

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Back country camping by kayak, Umbagog lake is really popular. There are also camping spots along the Connecticut river stretching our western border.

For a nice relaxing time on the water, Grafton pond is mostly undeveloped and doesn’t allow power boats.

For sea kayaking, Odiorne state park in Rye and the area around there is nice, and Maine is right next door.

For fishing, just pick a body of water. We have a lot of lakes, ponds, and rivers to choose from.

I don’t have any information on Vermont, because I’ve only paddled one place there. It was decent, just don’t be surprised if you see nudists in some places.

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Way up north you’ll find East Inlet and Scot Bogg, about an hours or so north of Lake Umbagog. Prettiest place in the state.

NH is full of wonderful places, just get the Quiet Waters books and start visiting them all!

What part of NH?

Most likely southern NH

Great paddling and fishing for Pike in Southern NH would be the Merrimack River. I hooked into what I thought was my largest pickerel ever was in fact a moderate size pike (based on its markings). Evidently, Pike fishing is a “thing” for early and later season angling in the Merrimack.

With respect to “backcountry” paddling/camping/fishing, yes to Lake Umbagog and Androscoggin River. Equally good on the other side of upper NH would be the Upper Connecticutt river and lakes system.

Personally, for real “backcountry” camping and fishing, I would suggest leaving the boat in favor of a backpack. So many beautiful rivers, streams and ponds in the White Mountain wilderness to explore. The pandemic has contributed to a resurgence of backpackers in NH. But, in the “shoulder” seasons of early spring or later fall, you can still find solitude in amazing spots. Just be prepared for changeable weather with your gear and clothing choices. Not unusual to find waist high snow on some of the higher terrain trails in mid May, or to be caught in a snow storm in October.


I grew up spending summers on Newfound Lake - still visit once or twice a year. I don’t know what the state of public access is in VA, but generally in New England it’s not great compared to other areas (I was shocked at the amount of public access points to the water in Florida when I moved here). Newfound lake has two fully public access points that I know of - on a 4500 acre lake! So you might have to hunt around a little, but they are there.

Do be aware that the water will be COLD in the larger lakes and rivers until at least mid June. Memorial Day water temps in the lakes region are usually around 50 degrees. Black flies in May/June. Autumn is beautiful, especially if you can avoid the weekends - it really quiets down after Labor Day.

Great ice fishing in the winter - most of the record lake trout have been caught from the ice!

I am also a Lake Umbagog fan-great wilderness experience with island campsites. In southern NH, We like Pawtuckaway Lake and the Great Bay National Wildlife Estuary.
Here’s a map with public launches: ArcGIS Web Application Here’s a list of lakes and ponds the state stocks: Trout Year Round | Fishing | New Hampshire Fish and Game Department

Not a problem - you will find plenty of places to paddle. I’m not much of a lake paddler, but I agree that Umbagog Lake is great. I hear the Squam Lake has some nice camping as well if you avoid weekends in the summer.

Lots of great river paddling in NH including the Androscoggin, Saco, Pemigewasset, Merrimack, Contoocook, Souhegan and Ashuelot just to name a few. There is great (although not remote willderness) camping on the Connecticut River along the NH and VT border.

I’ve spent less time in VT - mostly the West, White and Ottauquechee Rivers and Connecticut River camping.

Don’t forget ME - the Moose River Bow trip is great - and a good place for some fishing.


More rivers and lakes in ME than I can name, but here is where I have been or want to go:

Plenty of active paddlers around too, so you will have no problem finding company if that is what you are looking for.

Jay_Stroke, Welcome to the Granite State! My town borders Massachusetts; I am a recreational kayaker, make waves mostly in the southern area of NH, Lake Massabesic and our local ponds during the summer. Winter and summer spots are within an hour’s drive, to the backchannels, coastal areas, brackish and saltwater such as Stratham & New Castle, NH, Kittery Maine, etc. _DSC7551|640x427_DSC7551

Massabesic Lake in Auburn has three launching points. No swimming is allowed and even touching the water is prohibited. In the summer, Claire’s Landing has an “EZ dock” with a dedicated kayak launch, and it makes launching without touching the water very easy. This location has plenty of parking as well. The lake covers over 2500 acres and it’s very common to see loons, eagles, and great blue heron. The lake has some small islands to explore, however at least one of the islands is home to nesting loons and must be avoided. Another great spot is Canobie Lake in Salem, NH. This is another no-touch zone for the water, unfortunately. However, Canobie Lake Park is located on the shores of this lake, and it can be fun to paddle past the amusement park. On Saturday nights you can paddle to the park and watch their fireworks show on the water. This location also has plenty of parking. Fishing is allowed at Massabesic Lake, but not allowed at Canobie Lake. Maybe I’ll see you out there! Happy paddling, and wishing you an easy relocation.