Souhegan Poling Cruise

It has been a while since I’ve had my poling boat out, and my recent trip up to Maine got me thinking that it was time for a poling cruise. We got the crew together and decided on an up-and-back run on the Souhegan River in NH.

The Souhegan River arises in New Ipswich, NH and flows generally northeast for 34-miles to its convergence with the Merrimack River in Merrimack, NH. We would be poling the section in Amherst from Post Road to Route 101 – an up-and-back trip of about 6-miles. The river was at a nice level for poling – not too high, not too low .

This section twists and turns through woodlands before eventually flowing through the Amherst Country Club. There is a small drop at the Route 101 bridge. Most went up the shallow drop on river left. I tried the deeper drop on river right and made it to the top before taking a swim – oh well. The trip back down was uneventful.

Few pictures here:



The Souhegan is such a good poling river that Millbrook named a poling boat after it (for those of you on Facebook).

Enjoyed your photos. Thank you for sharing them.

Interesting about the Millbrook Canoe… What design differences have you noticed between their Souhegan and your MRC Explorer that would enhance poling?

I dearly miss paddling (and poling) my Explorer. It went to a good home though, where it is very much appreciated.


I’m actually in a Mohowak Whitewater 16, but most others were poling Explorers. I can’t tell you much about the Souhegan. Too bad that TommyC1 doesn’t post here anymore because he has one. You can search the archive and see some old posts about it.

Ekilson, what’s the enjoyment of poling vs paddling. Is it about visibility, maneuverability, comfort . . .

The attached facebook post explains a bit, but it seems that standing would be tiring after a while.

Say Hi to Tommy C1 for me next time. I haven’t paddled with him for over a decade at this point. He was a help for me early in WW paddling.

Haven’t been up to the Souhegan in a long time. My experience with that river is early season flyfishing. I figured out it takes me as much time to get to the Souhegan with back roads of southern NH and middle MA than it does to the bigger and better rivers like the Contookcook in Henniker.

Have you gone out with the RICKA sea kayak contingent yet? I did that one trip and have been occupied elsewhere since. :frowning:


Different way to move the boat. Poling can allow you to easily push upstream, move slowly down through difficult rapids (snubbing), or slip across shallow water. It has roots in Maine, but it definitely has a following around here.

I don’t find it tiring, and it is pretty easy to move around in the boat.

Tommy’s doing well - doing more hiking than paddling these days, but I still seem to see every now and again.

I have only been on one sea kayak trip. There have been lots of other things to do, but hopefully I’ll be out with them before we get too far into winter.

I have always wanted to try poling. We have a few rivers near me where poling would be a great option.
What kind of pole are you using? What length is it? If you were to use an 11 foot wooden pole, where would you get the metal end? I have a source to get an ironwood pole cut but need guidance on sizing?

As for the Millbrook Souhegan, my experience was with my guru Ed Hayden’s, who I fortunately managed to pole weekly (Wed evening lol) with for a few years before he passed. Ed’s Souhegan had a few extra layers of glass (TommyC1 holed his first outing), and despite being somewhat heavier than standard, made me feel like I was in a Lamborghini. My poling canoes we’re a Dagger Reflection 15 and a Swift Dumoine in Royalite, and my local river during our weekly play session would have me doing one rapid twice, maybe 3 times before being spent. Ed’s Souhegan, I attained the same rapid 8 times then decided I better return it before doing something drastic, like stealing Ed’s or calling Kaz

"AmusingRaven canoe pole "in a search engine may lead you to a couple of Fred Klingeners designs.Fred was my other guru.
Ed Hayden canoe pole wil lead you to the Hayden canoe pole site. Ed’s son Rob took over the business and you’ll see the standard 1.125"x12’ 6061-t6 poles here.

Here are directions for making a canoepole from a 12-foot closet rod.

I prefer aluminum, which are available from the Hayden Canoepole Company.

Don’t know if he is making them again, but I would like to order a couple.

Brings back memories. At the FSU reservation in north Florida (about a hundred and three years ago) there were many small lakes connected by streams where the depth was measured in inches and wet grass. Being kids we thought it was great fun trying to knock each other out of our canoes with the bamboo poles.

got no canoes, but 4 of Eds poles still, plus the 1.5" beasts I made a long time back. Took a bicycle ride down to the river a month back…it’s still there!! Been a couple years, big difference from the 2-5 days a week times.

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“Steve in Idaho” poling the Deschutes river in Bend OR. I was out west, and Steve and I did a get together, using google earth to find a spot to pole. Come to think of it, Steve may have been poling a Souhegan.
2013-08-20 12.51.48
Failing to find my favorite photo that I took, but this one is probably the same day and section. My son Aaron up front, I’m over to the right, staying close to shore lol…896jpg (800×600)
Personally, I loved the workout going upstream, playing chess with the currents and rock, being ably to have hours of fun in a hundred yards of rapids, honing the skills of balance, checking whitewater runs from a vantage point 6’ over the river and learning new lines to run for higher level paddling, and not having to shuttle or set a schedule.

Matt - I remember that day - here is video of you and me back in 2009 - I was bad…

Here is Joe wrapping his canoe - always remember to “love the rock”

and of course - Matt to the rescue…


Here are all the pictures

And my write up from that day

I’ll take a couple of those poles off your hands sometime - I’ll buy them. I’d like to have some spares, but I don’t know if Hayden is making them anymore.

hmmm,maybe. Your pix are making me kind of miss poling. I’ve been running, bicycling, weight training and splitting wood more since retirement, but poling kind of combines all that besides the bicycling, but does add swimming :smile:Dang I loved that whole body workout that I learned a year or two after this. Watching Ed and Fred, and Marshall less often…man, you could learn a lot watching those guys. Marshall taught me the efficiency of planting that pole straight behind to keep from “crabbing” up the river (yeah, now I remember his “dismount” that day, he was soaked; think Chris made the attainment, but had no-one to accompany him). Fred was “the thinker” and we had a lot of enjoyable get togethers. And Ed Hayden, the master, utilizing his legs to get a powerful push, something I note I’m not doing in the vid., nor “walking the pole” with my hands like I Iearned later on.
Matt to the rescue…haha…more like, 'Hey, thanks for making a bigger safe space, Joe."

This was my second time poling - bought my aluminum pole from Ed that day. They say the key to poling is controlling the bow - I was all over the river that day. Looks to me like I am standing a little too far back in the boat.

Chuck and I were talking about a Riverton run in November - Tommy said might come as well. I’ll let you know if it happens.

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