Hiking and Fishing the Little River (NH)

Hiking and Fishing the Little River

The Little River is a mountain stream that drains the narrow valley between Mts Hale, Zealand, and North Twin, three 4000 footers on the north side of the Pemigewasset Wilderness. It’s a freezing cold, boulder-choked river with miles of continuous pools, pour-overs, and pocket water making it a delight to fish for wild brook trout with a Tenkara Rod.

The river is located at the end of Haystack Road (FR 304) near the tiny village of Twin Mountain, NH. This is a seasonal road that is gated during the winter months from Thanksgiving thru Easter, although that varies depending on weather conditions. That road also has dispersed campsites managed by the USFS, where you can pull in a car or truck and camp for free, up to two weeks at a time, although it gets heavily used on weekends.

Little River, NH

There is a hiking trail that runs alongside the river for 2 miles called the North Twin Trail that provides excellent access,  although you can also put on a pair of mesh water shoes (Astral TR1) or hippers (Chotas) and walk up the middle of the river, scrambling along the banks when necessary. I’ve done that more than once, fishing all the way upstream and then walking back along the trail to the trailhead parking area.

There’s very little tree cover above the river to snag a fly and the river is remarkably free of woody debris. The maximum depth is 4 feet deep, making it easy to cross back and forth for the best casting positions.  I’ve never once seen another fisherman working the river, although there are a few obvious swimming holes that are easily avoided. There are also sections of the river that are not adjacent to the hiking trail (just a very short bushwhack) where there’s little chance of human disturbance.

The Little River has miles of easy to access pools, pour overs, and pocket water.
The Little River has miles of easy to access pools, pour overs, and pocket water.

On my last visit to the river, I landed 15 brook trout in the space of 4 hours ranging in size from 4″ up to 10″ in length. They were hitting every fly I fished, but the most successful by far was a midge imitation called a Griffiths Gnat in a size 14 and 16. I’ve also had good luck on previous trips with Ausable Wulfs, also in a size 14 and 16. But the most important key to success is to keep your line off the water so the fish only see your fly and aren’t spooked.

Little River Brookie
Little River Brookie

I’ve fished the Little River a half dozen times this past summer and climbed the surrounding mountains on day hikes and backpacking trips if you want to combine the two. If you’re a backpacker and carry a Tenkara Rod (or any other rod for that matter), check out the Fire Warden’s Loop in my free online guidebook, Backpacking the White Mountain 4000 footers, for a route that loops around the Little’s watershed and climbs four 4000 footers.

Hiking and fishing are a great combination if you like to fish in places you can only walk to.

About the author

Philip Werner has hiked and backpacked over 7500 miles in the United States and the UK and written over 2500 articles as the founder of SectionHiker.com, noted for its backpacking gear reviews and hiking FAQs. A devotee of New Hampshire and Maine hiking and backpacking, Philip is the 36th person to hike all 650 of the hiking trails in the White Mountain Guide, a distance of approximately 2500 miles, completing a second round in 2021. Philip is the author of Backpacking the White Mountain 4000 Footers, a free online guidebook of the best backpacking trips in the White Mountains in New Hampshire and Maine. He lives in New Hampshire.

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