The Concord River powered the textile industry in Lowell, Mass., in the 1800s. Now, its rapids and waterfalls provide visitors with a unique urban adventure that raises awareness about the city's "greenspace" and renewal efforts.
Every spring, Zoar Outdoor hosts whitewater rafting when snow melt and rain make the river's conditions just right.
"It's really cool to pass people's yards and see skyscrapers. People going over the bridge are astonished to see us," says Shahid Jalil, of Zoar Outdoor. "It's a mile long. We do two runs."
The trip takes visitors over class III and IV rapids, including Twisted Sister and Three Beauties, a surfing spot that provides thrills!
"Water going over rocks, then it creates a gigantic hole and the cool thing is that it's really calm and deep after," says Jalil, as participants steer the raft right into the wave again and again. "It's amazingly awesome."
Brianna Melo of Lowell, who took the trip with her cousins, agrees: "The water was just hitting you in the face and you were like, 'WOAH!' "
The 3-hour endeavor ends inside a historic lock chamber from the 1850s, a National Historic Landmark in the center of the city, which volunteers operate.
"Tall wooden doors and they have levers to open them up," says Jalil, noting this excursion, involving history and the environment, is a rare opportunity. "It's very exciting and unforgettable, and a lot of people love it so much they try to come back every year."
The annual trip - running the next three weekends - costs $82 per person for age 14 and up. Private group tours are available midweek. For more information, check out the websites for Zoar Outdoor and Lowell Parks and Conservation Trust.