Zoar Outdoor Announces Beginning of Spring Rafting on the Concord River

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Outdoor adventure outfitter Zoar Outdoor announces spring rafting trips on the Concord River starting on April 1st and running through May.

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After a long, cold winter, you might be feeling the itch to get outside and go on an adventure. It’s a common ailment this time of year, and while a nice walk outside might provide a temporary fix, for many, a more “immersive” outdoor experience is where it’s at. One opportunity to shake those winter blues close to home is a spring whitewater adventure with Zoar Outdoor on the Concord River only half an hour north of Boston.

Flowing through Lowell, Massachusetts, the Concord passes unnoticed by many on its way to the Merrimack River. Known for its calm waters further upstream and for the important part it played in early American history, the Concord is less acclaimed for the unique, exciting whitewater experience it offers.

During most of the year, when flows are normally low, the river seems like little more than a large creek running through the city. But as the warmer days of spring melt winter snows, rocks that are high and dry much of the year get plunged underwater creating whitewater that challenges rafters of all levels.

A day of rafting the Concord River with Zoar Outdoor starts at the UMass Lowell conference center, where guests register and suit up. The ride to the start of the trip takes guests through the city past several spots featured in the movie The Fighter, for some added cultural fun.

The river run involves 3 major rapids, the first of which is Twisted Sister, so named because it’s a technical rapid that involves an S-like maneuver through the water. Hard paddling and skilled navigating on the guide’s part are rewarded with a playful set of waves that ends in a brief pool before the rafts plunge into Three Beauties.

Not only does Three Beauties provide an exciting set of drops, but at the right level, paddlers can point their boats upstream and head back into the rapid for some whitewater surfing. This isn’t like surfing on the ocean. Surfing in a raft involves pushing the nose of a boat into the water falling over a rock, which pours into the rafts splashing everyone and causing the raft to buck like an angry bronco. When the Concord flows in the spring, Three Beauties is considered by many experienced paddlers to be one of the best whitewater surfing spots in New England.

The last rapid of the run is Middlesex Dam which can meet rafters with big waves the boats crash through, or with fast-moving but smoother waves that create a ride like a water slide. After all this excitement, Zoar Outdoor guides strap the boats onto their trailers, and everyone piles into the vans to drive to the top and do it all over again. Experienced guides will tell guests that even though the stretch of river, the boats, and the paddlers are all the same, no second run ever goes just like the first one.

The second round of fun ends with an uncommon twist for a rafting trip: After paddling through all the rapids and exchanging high fives all around, the paddlers drift calmly into an 1850s lock chamber. The doors of the locks close behind the boats, and water lifts everyone to the take-out for the end of the day.

Available only in April and May, the Concord River truly provides a unique whitewater experience that combines the excitement of big rapids with the cultural heritage of one of America’s first industrial cities and the convenience of being situated just half an hour from Boston. It’s the perfect way to celebrate spring!

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Adriana Isaza
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