Whitewater Rafting Near Boston Trip Report

By Mike Boisvert.

Someone said the river was flowing at 1,600 cubic feet per second and wow, what a ride!

Yep, we got wet! But did we have fun? YES! Was it a unique (sometimes scary) adventure? YES!!

Our plan was to navigate twice through three sets of [Class III and IV] rapids, 'Twisted Sister', 'Three Beauties', and 'Middlesex Dam(n)', on a one mile stretch through the heart of the city. The Concord River drops 50 vertical feet through the city of Lowell and is the location of the earliest mill sites in the area.

Jon and I checked in at the Doubletree Hotel in Lowell, MA by the Merrimack River Canal that flows through the city under hazy sunshine. We donned our wetsuits, jackets, life vests, and helmets and were driven to the Concord River. Jude from Zoar was our guide and in the raft with us was a couple from Connecticut and a father/son team from Massachusetts.

Jon and I took the front seat for the first pass. We had paddled to get through Twisted Sister first to the left, then right and then left again. Walls of water splashed into us at the front of the raft.

We took a break and then experienced Three Beauties. They were a series of three large waves, with the final wave over our heads. This was THE Class IV rapid.   

How many cubic feet did we swallow? Let’s see, 1,600 cubic feet per second x 60 seconds per minute divided by 2 GO-ers times how many minutes equals, oh, never mind!

Helmets were handy (aside from the ducking) for dealing with the many branches hanging low over the river.

The Middlesex Dam was a nice Class III rapid where we had to take a right turn to go down it. I would say this was the easiest. 

By the time our soaked selves climbed into the raft for the second GO, the sun was really shining —what a terrific afternoon. We had learned from the first pass and paddled through all three rapids exactly where we needed to be.

Our trip concluded by being lifted up 17 feet through an 1850s lock chamber which is a National Historic Landmark located in both the Lowell Heritage State and Lowell National Historic Park.

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