Franklin, N.H., gears up for whitewater park opening in the fall

Franklin, N.H., gears up for whitewater park opening in the fall

Boston Herald | Moira McCarthy | August 22, 2021

This artist’s rendering shows the lower wave of Trestle View Park in Franklin Falls, NH. /Photo courtesy McLaughlin Whitewater Design Group

A whitewater adventure vacation is on many bucket lists — the chance to ride some challenging rapids and explore a cool destination once you’ve packed up your paddles. Great news: You’ll soon be able to do this just an hour-and-a-half’s drive from  Boston.

New England’s first-ever whitewater park will open this fall in Franklin, N.H.

A new whitewater rafting park is set to open this fall in Franklin, N.H. /Photo courtesy Franklin Falls

This artist’s rendering shows the upper wave of Trestle View Park in Franklin Falls, N.h. /Photo courtesy McLaughlin Whitewater Design Group

Franklin, N.H., has long been a favorite destination for white water rafters. Photo courtesy Franklin Falls

Nature created the rapids, but the setup, including a downtown park and shopping area with views of the rapids, a bike pump path, climbing wall, campsites, shopping and dining spots and more, is part of a plan the once-thriving mill town put in motion seven years ago.

“It took us a long time to get to this moment,” Marty Parichand, owner of Franklin’s Outdoor New England ( kayaking and rafting store, and the man who first pitched the idea to the town, said.

It was not, he said, an idea out of the blue.

“We have 35 years of whitewater recreation here,” he said. “This is a river that already attracts paddlers.”

With good reason — the Pemigewasset and Winnipesaukee rivers converge to form the Merrimack River. All that water flows downhill to the town, Parichand said.

For centuries, that flow was used by the town to power the mill. But that industry died out there.

Now, with the water park coming to life and the Mill City Park continuing construction, Franklin hopes to rebrand itself as “Franklin Falls,” a spot where whitewater enthusiasts and general outdoor lovers come to play and relax.

“The Winnipesaukee drops 77 feet per mile and on top of that, drains the largest lake in New Hampshire,” Parichand said. “A second lake feeds it as well.”

That high rate of drop and flow, he said, puts their whitewater site at an advantage over most others in the country.

“Even when the river gets lower, you’ll still see it flow,” he said.

And while whitewater rafting is all about immersing oneself in nature, it is also about the excitement of taking on the rapids. Franklin Falls will deliver that for the adventurer — but visitors who prefer dry land can still enjoy Mill City Park for its open space and activities, as well as a chance to see the rapids’ end in the center of town.

“Whenever we have a paddler, we have 10 people who want to watch,” Parichand said.

“Now they can come up, watch as long as they want, then go shopping, dining, biking, hiking, whatever they want,” he said.

Mill City Park (, a nonprofit 13-acre adventure park set along the water downtown, will also include an amphitheater, community garden, a historic “Mills Ruins Trail,” water play area for children and more.

“Franklin in the future will be a higher quality destination than we’ve seen since the degradation of the mills,” Parichand said.

Businesses are already responding — four breweries from Texas have chosen to open there, and a developer is in the process of a $30 million building renovation. Locals are already noticing an uptick in guests.

For the paddling enthusiasts, there are Class II, III and IV whitewater rapids.

Rafters will be able to take on those features year-round, since the water never stops flowing and the downhill power keeps the river from freezing, he said.

“It’s very unique to do this in the winter,” Parichand said. “There is snow on top of the rocks, and the river runs higher from snow melt.”

They took their cues on how to set that up (with special designed wet suits available for winter excursions) from New Zealand, where winter whitewater is a hit.

There is paddling now, he said, but the true opening will come some time in early October. Rain delays put off a summer opening.

For now, Parichand said, the excitement across town is palpable.

“There are already more people around and it feels really good to everyone,” he said. “This has been a long time coming, and it’s going to be great.” 



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