Tucked away in the northeast corner of the U.S., New Hampshire, the Granite State, teems with mountains and hills that cradle countless streams, culminating in a picturesque array of ponds and lakes.

As late summer merges into the vibrant hues of autumn, the tapestry of dark green conifers and color-changing deciduous trees paint a mesmerizing melody of color—bright reds, oranges, and yellows set against the backdrop of lush green pines and firs.

A Kaleidoscope of Colors: Doubling the Beauty

The magic of the wild is mirrored most exquisitely on the placid waters of these natural reservoirs, an effect even more enchanting when experienced from a canoe or kayak. Flat water paddling is the epitome of this captivating spectacle, with the riot of colors reflected in the serene environment that envelops the paddler.

Standing on the shore, one can appreciate these reflections, but to truly soak in this spectacle, immerse yourself in the kaleidoscope of colors by venturing onto the water itself. For an optimal experience, choose a location with minimal motorized traffic, surrounded by a blend of hardwoods and conifers, preferably with a mountain completing the picture.

Chocorua Lake, for instance, offers a postcard-worthy view from every point. The waters mirror a mountainside ablaze with maples, birch, fir, and red pine, with evergreens providing a stark contrast that enhances the intensity of the reds and yellows.

For a truly tranquil experience, paddle onto Willard Pond in Antrim. With motor boats forbidden, this body of water, surrounded by 2,000 acres of protected wilderness, promises a serene experience. Here, amidst near-pristine conditions, loons swim undisturbed, and blue herons perch patiently in the trees, awaiting their meal.

Expanding Your Paddling Horizon: Beyond Lakes and Ponds

Kayak New Hampshire
Image source visitnh.gov

The paddling experience extends beyond the lakes and ponds to streams and rivers, offering equally breathtaking views. The Ashuelot River, stretching from Keene to Surry and Winchester, provides an incredible paddling adventure when the water conditions are just right.

Ashuelot River Park in Keene serves as an excellent starting point for your journey. If you’re interested in exploring the Contoocook River, reach out to the experienced team at Contoocook River Canoe for rentals, advice, or guided tours.

The Saco River, in the Conway area, is another paddling hotspot. Saco Bound, a full-service outfitter, can cater to all your paddling needs—rental equipment, guidance, or guided tours.

The historic Connecticut River, a paddling pathway for Native Americans over millennia, still retains its charm for modern paddlers. North Star Canoe Rentals in Cornish are the local experts who can guide you through the best spots to explore, and they provide rental equipment to boot.

For the ultimate fall paddling experience, consider Lake Umbagog in Errol. Stay at one of the State Park sites, or paddle to one of the 33 remote paddle-in campsites, where you can pitch a tent by the shore. Imagine waking up to the sight of light dancing across the lake, steam rising in wispy trails from the surface—it’s an experience that resonates with the beauty and tranquility of nature.

As you traverse the waterways of New Hampshire in your canoe or kayak, you become part of the rich tapestry of late summer and fall. This is more than just a journey through the water—it’s an immersive adventure through time, color, and the serene beauty of the natural world.