The Franklin Falls Dam area is open daily from sunrise to sunset.
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 Dam. There are a variety of outdoor recreation activities for you and your family. Our developed recreation areas are located at the dam, Ledgeview Overlook, Coolidge Woods, Shaw Cove, and Profile Falls.
Explore approximately 13 miles of mountain biking trails at Franklin Falls Dam. This multi-use trail system was built and is regularly maintained by the Central New Hampshire Chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association. Trail maps are located onsite and under the Maps link in the righthand column.
Much of the terrain is very “un-New England like” with very few rocks. As a result, the Franklin Falls Dam trail system is known for its flowing, buff single track. It is great venue for group rides with mixed skill levels. Experts can enjoy high speed tree-slaloming, while novices can enjoy the trails at a more relaxed pace. Some of the fastest flow can be found on trails that include Moose Gully, Pine Snake, Bee, Lost Wall, Rusty Bucket, and Stump. Trails on the slightly tighter side include Rogue, Caddywhompus, and Cellar Hole. The newest trail, Sniper is a nice combination of flow and undulating terrain. For advanced riders looking for a more technical challenge, Salmon Brook Trail offers steeper pitches, tight switchbacks, narrow benches, bridges, and rock gardens. It rides best when entering at its intersection with the Rusty Bucket Trail.
The signature trail at Franklin Falls Dam is Mighty Chicken. This trail is a gravity trail, built in a natural half-pipe created by the walls of Chicken Ravine. The trail surfs up and down the ravine walls then finishes out over a series of drops and berms.
The trail system is open year round, and is a great choice for early spring riding when other trail systems are closed for mud season. Sandy sub-soil keeps the area extremely well-drained, so mud is virtually nonexistent.
Try your hand at the 25-hole disc golf course at Franklin Falls Dam created in partnership with the Friends of Franklin Falls Disc Golf. Make you way through a mix of wooded and open fairways and enjoy the unique forest topography of Franklin Falls Dam Recreation Area. The course was established in 2016 and continues to be updated. Current features include turf and rubber mat tees, ChainStar targets, cart-friendly, and dog-friendly. There are public restrooms available on-site but be aware that there is no drinking water available.
Franklin Falls Dam is located on the Pemigewasset River and is a great place for canoes and kayaks to explore the banks and wildlife the river has to offer. Small motorboats 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 canoe launch located in the Profile Falls Recreation Area.
State law requires that there be a personal flotation device (PFD) for every person aboard a watercraft including kayaks, canoes, and SUPs. 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
Franklin Falls Dam is comprised of 3,600 acres with many 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 seasons. Licenses and season dates are provided on the New Hampshire Fish and Game website.
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 river, including Atlantic salmon.
The Franklin Falls Dam offers several multi-use trails throughout its scenic 3,600 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, offering hikers and sightseers much 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 trail and has several points of interest each corresponding to an interpretive sign which describes the natural occurrence.
The Franklin Falls Dam is a relaxing place for a picnic. There are many picnicking spots that provide visitors with tables and shade located at the dam, Profile Falls, Periwinkle Field, and Ledgeview Overlook. The picnicking areas at the dam and Profile Falls Recreation Area have charcoal 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 of.
During the winter months visitors are encouraged to take advantage of the cross-country skiing 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 Recreation area hosts a dog-sledding 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 no fee for hosting special event on our property.
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.
Teachers and school administrators: Rangers are available for classroom visits and schools are also encouraged to take a field trip to the dam for a gatehouse tour or a program related to our project. We also offer shadowing opportunities for high school students. If interested, please reach via email using the Contact link in the righthand column.
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 Dam, 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.
Updated: February 21, 2024