Flood Risk Management
Franklin Falls Dam was built and constructed in 1943 on the Pemigewasset River to protect cities and towns along the Merrimack from flood damage. The operation of the Franklin Falls Dam is different from the operation of other Federal flood control dams in New England for two primary reasons: The dam is built on a major tributary river with the largest upstream watershed of all Federal flood control dams in New England, and the dam has a limited storage capacity (equivalent of 2.8 inches of runoff across the entire watershed) while most Federal dams in New England have between 6 to 8 inches of runoff across their respective, smaller watersheds.
Since the dam has such an enormous watershed and very limited storage capacity by design, it is operated to reduce downstream maximum peak flows and alter the timing of when peak flows impact downstream properties and populations. Since it's conception in 1943, Franklin Falls Dam has prevented more than $165 million in damages.
Using land for flood risk management, we are able to create and manage recreational opportunities for every age. Many people enjoy hunting, fishing, hiking, biking, kayaking and snowshoeing on Corps owned land. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers invites you to come relax at Franklin Falls. There are a variety of outdoor recreation activities for you and your family. Our developed recreation sites are located at the dam, Shaw Cove and Profile Falls.
Franklin Falls is located on the Pemigewasset river and is a great place for canoes and kayaks to explore the banks and wildlife the Pemigewasset river has to offer. Small motor boats can be launched at the boat ramp located at Shaw Cove Recreation Area. Canoes and kayaks can be launched at Shaw Cove, Coolidge Woods, or Periwinkle Field boat launch located in the Profile Falls Recreation Area.
State law requires that there be a Personal flotation device (PFD) for every person aboard a water craft. We encourage everyone to always wear their PFD!
All Boats with a 25 + horse powered engine are required to have a driver who has received a New Hampshire Boating Certificate.
Hunting and Fishing
There are several areas amongst Franklin Falls 3,900 acres of wooded river valley, that offer excellent hunting and fishing opportunities. Some of the most popular hunting spots are found along the Old Hill Village Trail, which can be easily accessed from Profile Falls Recreation Area. The mixed forests and fields provide a habitat for a wide range of wildlife.
The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, under agreement with the Corps of Engineers and the Division of Forests and Lands, stocks upland game birds, assists with the maintenance and improvement of wildlife habitat, administers a fur-bearer trapping program, supplies and maintains waterfowl nesting boxes, and enforces fish and game laws. Hunting for deer, pheasant, and small game is permitted during the state hunting season. Licenses and season dates are provided on the Fish and Game Website www.wildlife.state.nh.us.
Deer Hunters: tree stands are permitted for day use only. Stands found on the property unattended will be taken down.
The Corps of Engineers works cooperatively with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to stock various species of fish in the reservoir, including Atlantic salmon.
The Franklin Falls Dam offers several multi-use trails throughout its scenic 3,900 acres. Many of the trails follow the Pemigewasset River, which has carved a narrow river valley through the New Hampshire hills. The lush valley provides homes for a variety of native New England Wildlife, giving hikers, and site seers mush to view while traversing these trails.
One of our most popular trails is the Piney Point Nature Trail. This is located just downstream of the dam and loops around a peninsula which is covered by a mix forest. This is a 1.8 mile long trail and has several points of interest each corresponding to an interpretive sign which describes the natural occurrence.
Biking is another popular use of the Franklin Falls trail system. Visitors are allowed to bike on any of our trails. We have trails designed especially for bike riders. These trails are located across from the project office, extending off the Coleman Road. The trail system was developed by a local mountain bike association known as NEMBA (New England Mountain Bike Association). For more information please contact the Project office or download a map on the map link to the right under Project Documents.
The Franklin Falls Reservoir is a relaxing place for a picnic. There are many picnicking spots on the reservoir that provide visitors with tables and shade. These spots are located at Profile Falls, Periwinkle Field, Overlook, and at the Dam. The picnicking areas at the Dam and at Profile Falls have grills for visitors to use.
Be aware that the picnic areas do not have running water for drinking or washing hands, so be sure to bring your own beverages and consider bringing hand wipes. Pets must be kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet, and pet waste must be properly disposed.
During the winter months visitors are encourage to take advantage of the cross country trails and snowmobile trails on the property. Snowmobilers are reminded that all trails are considered multi-use trails and to be courteous to other trail users.
Each year Profile Falls hosts a Sled dog event that attracts mushers from across New England. This is an all day event and spectators are more than welcome.
Reservations and Fees
Special events that have been held at Franklin Falls Dam include: scout camping, dog trials, fire department training, fishing derbies, weddings, walk-a-thons, triathlons and wood permits.
If you are interested in holding a special event, you may apply in writing 60-days in advance. There is a fee for special events, and the amount depends on the event.
You are invited to our offerings of educational and recreational programs here at Franklin Falls Dam. These family oriented activities include trail walks, water safety demonstrations, Junior Ranger Programs, snowmobile trails, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, volunteer opportunities, dam tours and much more. All of our programs are open to the public and best of all there is no charge or fee.
Rangers are available for in school programs. Schools are also encouraged to take a field trip to the Dam to get a Dam tour or a program related to our project.
We offer internships for local school districts. If you are a student that is interested in an internship please call.
The Pemigewasset River carved a narrow river valley through the New Hampshire hills on its way to join the Winnipesaukee River and become the Merrimack River. At Franklin Falls Reservoir, the river meanders through some 2,500 wooded acres of white pine, oak, maple, beech and birch.
The project's forest resources are managed by the State of New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development Division of Forests and Lands in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Timber stands and wildlife habitat improvements, boundary line maintenance, forest inventory and mapping, and commercial timber harvests and other activities are carried out under a detailed forest management plan for each area. All forest management activities are financed by income from timber harvests. There are no federal or state funds or any other funds used for forest management activities.
The mix of forest, field, and stream provides habitat for a wide range of fish and wildlife, both resident and migratory. Deer, fox, turkey, and an occasional black bear, find food and shelter in the woods. Open meadows attract New England cottontails, field mice, kestrels, and migrating hawks. Beaver, otter, muskrat, and mink play along the shorelines of small streams, while painted turtles and leopard frogs bask in the shallows. Spring and fall migrations bring Canada geese and other waterfowl to join the great blue heron fishing the backwaters. Wintering bald eagles are occasionally seen near the river.