Gold Panning on the Ammonoosuc River, northern NH

  • July 21, 2013 · 9:00 AM

We are in NH for Seek the Peak the day before so why not pan for gold in the area and take in lovely riverside sights!

I prospected a bit last year after Seek the Peak with some success. With my first pan of material here I found some specks of gold! The next two pans were the same! You may or may not find gold on your first outing but in any case we will have fun in the outdoors trying! This will be by the wet panning method.

We will start out by meeting at the designated meeting location and we will be prospecting a few spots on the Ammonoosuc River. I have limited the number of participants as the number of panning kits and equipment I have to lend is very limited. If some of you obtain your own equipment (sources given below) I expand the numbers of participants allowed.

We will spend about 6 hrs. learning, panning, processing material and trying out up to 3 sites I have in mind on the river. I recommend having a picnic lunch available so we can eat on-site to save time.

Please note: We will be in and around the water and getting wet will likely happen. Being wet, you may also get cold especially if there is any wind that day so plan accordingly. We are also working with gravel, sand, and dirt so getting dirty is likely. Given these two realities, it is a good idea to have a change of clothes and footwear and a plastic bag to put your wet/dirty things in.


Those who wish to go need to have:

* A daypack - To carry equipment and lunch
* 2 quarts of water
* Trail lunch and any snacks
* Crocs/water shoes - to more easily walk in stream/on rocks
* Bug spray

Basic recommended panning equipment (if you do not bring your own, you will have to team up to share. Very limited equipment will be brought by the event host):

* 14" gold pan with riffles (about $10 - see link below) - Best having own
* Classifier - (2 mesh size) to separate medium to larger rocks from sand
* Glass vial - (1 dram size) to save fine gold (specks) in (or a small nugget if you are lucky)
* Metal scoop (or garden hand trowel) - to scoop material for processing
Snuffer bottle - to suck up fine gold from pan
* Empty and clean 2 Liter soda bottle with cap - to carry water for use panning away from stream/river

Optional panning equipment for more aggressive panning (if you do not bring your own, you will have to team up to share. Very limited equipment will be brought by the event host):

* Gold Panning Kit (about $30 - see link below) - Best having your own (includes the 14" pan, snuffer bottle, and classifier)
* Round Tip Shovel - More aggressive collection of material, this can be shared more easily
* 5-gal. pail with handle (clean, like a large 5-gal. paint bucket) - To keep/carry partially processed material in

Other optional items/equipment:

* Boat cushion - (or similar waterproof cushion) to sit on on the rocks of the stream
(e.g. Sports Cushion - Dicks - $6.99
* Swimsuit - If you want to get into the river to get material or just cool off
* Change of dry Clothes & footwear
* Plastic bag to put dirty/wet clothes/footwear in
* Camera (waterproof is better)
* Waders - long boots for being in the water

What Host is bringing for equipment to share (can equip up to 8 people, please consider a cash donation to host towards purchase of more equipment - this is not a rental - suggested amount of donation $5):

* 4 Gold Prospecting Gift Sets from Cabela's - Item# IK[masked], each kit includes:

- 14" gold pan
- 10" gold pan
- 1 Classifier
- 1 Snuffer bottle 
- 1 plastic vial (1 dram size)
- 1 tweezers

* 4 5-gallon buckets w/handle
* 4 2-gallon plastic jugs
* 4 1-quart plastic bottles
* 3 Round tip shovels
* 2 Metal scoops
* 4 Plastic scoops
* 1 Plastic garden trowel
* 1 Wire mesh fine classifier

Dogs and children are NOT allowed on this event.



Approximate location/directions - Parking area where we meet to start out to the first site (parking area on south side Rte. 302 in Twin Mountain, NH):
[Lat. [masked], Lon. -71.522838]

Panning location(s) - Riverside in various spots on the Ammonoosuc River.



What gold you can find in VT & NH:

Vermont Gold Prospecting - Guided Trip - Video - (Examples of finds, 4 min.)


How to Pan for Gold - Video - (Very good on wet panning, 7 min.)

Yankee Gold Prospecting on the Wild Ammonoosuc River. Locations for good gold. Panning - Video - (Very good on wet panning and location, 12 min.)

Site Selection:

'Gold in a storm' - Videos - (Very good and short segments):

Chp 1 of 8 - Where to find gold after a storm? - (3 min.)

Chp 2 of 8 - Gold & floods - (3 min.)

Chp 3 of 8 - Placer gold paystreaks and helical water flow - (3 min.)

Chp 4 of 8 - Where to find gold along stream & river bends - (3 min.)

Chp 5 of 8- Gold Density (weight/vol) - (3 min.)

Chp 6 of 8 - "Point bars & gold" - (3 min.)

Chp 7 of 8 - Where to hunt for gold - (3 min.)

What Next:

What to do with Your Gold - text

Recommended Books:

Dave McCracken (2010), Gold Mining In The 21st Century, Happy Camp, CA: New Era Productions, ISBN[masked], $19.95 (list)
*, $18.95:
*, $20.95:




Gold Pan Only (a few options):

Garrett 14" Gravity Trap Gold Pan - Black Cat - $8.95 -(strongly recommend this pan as basic equipment even if you don't get anything else)

Proline 14" Gold Professional Gold Pan, Green - Black Cat - $13.95 - (a more expensive alternative)

Garrett 10" Backpacker Gold Pan - Walmart - $8.99 - (generally too small to use well, OK for kids)

Snuffer Bottle (aka snifter bottle, to pick up fine gold from pan):

Snuffer Bottle - Black Cat - $3.00 - (2nd most needed item after a pan)

Glass Vials (to save gold flakes in):

Small Glass Vials w/Black Cap - Black Cat - $.45 - (3rd most needed item after snuffer bottle - choose 1 dram vial)

Classifier (to sift out larger unwanted rocks):

Garrett Classifier - Black Cat - $7.95 - (1/2" square mesh, should use to make processing material easier)

Panning Kit (all the basics together - seems will be cheaper to buy the 3 parts above not as a kit):

Basic Gold Panning Kit - Black Cat - $21.95 - (Strongly recommended basic kit for this event - 14" pan, snuffer, 1 dram vial - choose green or blue pan)

Full Panning Kits (basics plus extra 10" pan and classifier/sieve):

Gold Prospecting Gift Set - Cabela's - $29.99 - Item# IK[masked] (recommended full panning kit)

Garrett Gold Pan Kit -Walmart - $29.95 - (Same as Cabela's)

5-Gallon Bucket w/Handle (for collecting lots of material to move away from stream/river):

5-Gallon Orange Homer Bucket - Home Depot - $2.78

Metal Scoop (an example):

Aluminum feed scoop - Walmart - $7.86

Round Point Shovel (an example, longer handle better for deeper holes):

44 in. Long Handle Round Point Shovel - Home Depot - $9.97


=== Legal Stuff ===

By clicking on "Yes" for this event you agree, warrant, and covenant as follows:

In consideration for accepting this entry, I, the registrant, intending to be legally bound, hereby, for myself, my heirs, my executors and administrators, do waive and release any and all rights for damages I may have against any parties or persons connected with the Hartford Area Hiking meetup group for and related to the above listed event. I attest and verify that I am physically fit to participate in any portion of this above listed event. I grant Hartford Area Hiking permission to use any photographs, film or videotapes of this event for any purpose.


GLOSSARY (* - Denotes not directly applicable or important to wet panning for gold)

Aggregate - Mixture of different mineral substances (e.g. sand or gravel)

Acid Test* - Use of a strong acid to tell if a material is gold

Amalgam* (chemistry) - Mixture of gold and mercury, old dangerous process of using mercury to extract fine gold

Bedrock - (aka Country Rock) Solid rock surface which underlies loose sediments (such as in a streambed), gold could be found at the surface or in its creaks or pockets

False Bedrock - Hard-packed layer of sediment in a streambed that could act like bedrock with gold concentrated just above

Classifier - A screening device to allow smaller material to pass through, used to eliminate larger rocks

Mesh - Number of openings contained in a lineal inch of screening (10-mesh has 10 openings per lineal inch and 100 per square inch). 10+ mesh means something larger than can pass through 10 mesh, 40- mesh means something smaller than the 40 mesh openings and easily passes through, 10-20 mesh means something that gets through 10 mesh but doesn't get through 20 mesh openings. [10 mesh is about 1/16" openings, 20 mesh is about 1/32", 40 mesh is about 1/64"]

Crevicing - Removing gold from the cracks and crannies of bedrock in a watercourse by prying it out (e.g. with a knife, screwdriver, needlenose pliers, etc.)

Sniping - Sampling for gold in exposed bedrock traps

Fineness - Newer measure of purity of gold used mainly in mainland Europe. System of denoting the purity of platinum, gold and silver alloys by parts per thousand of pure metal by mass in the alloy. For example, an alloy containing 75% gold is denoted as "750". 999 (24 Karat, also occasionally known as three nines fine). 917 (22 Karat) Historically the most widely used fineness for gold bullion coins; currently used for American Gold Eagles. 750 (18 Karat). 585 (14 Karat).

Karat (K or ktCarat in U.K.) - Older measure of purity of gold. 24-Carat gold is fine (actually 99.9% Au w/w rather than 100%), 18-Carat gold is 18 parts gold 6 parts another metal (forming an alloy with 75% gold), 12-Carat gold is 12 parts gold (12 parts another metal), and so forth.

Metallurgical Assay* - Compositional analysis of ore, metal, or alloy

Millesimal Fineness* - Measure of purity of gold in an alloy

Float - Loose pieces of quartz rock or other potential gold-bearing rock which has traveled down and away from its original source

Fool's Gold (Pyrite) - Looks like gold but is an iron mineral that can fool miners

Gangue* - Worthless material mixed in with desired ore in a load deposit

Gold - Precious metal we are looking for!

Coarse Gold(aka a kind of Gold Nugget) Gold which as not traveled far from its source load and is still rough and crystalline in nature as it hasn't been pounded smooth by natural forces

Fine Gold - Small particles of gold [20-40 mesh, 1/32"-1/64"]

Flake-Gold - Flat chips of gold, probably pounded flat and smooth during travel down active waterways [10-20 mesh, 1/16"-1/32"]

Flour Gold(aka Gold Dust) Extremely fine particles of gold (smaller than 40 mesh screen) [40- mesh, <1/64"]

Gold Nugget - Chunks of gold (larger than can pass through 10 mesh screen) [10+ mesh, >1/16"]

Native Metal - When the metal is found in wild without need to chemically process

Noble Metal* - Metals resistant to corrosion (e.g. gold)

Picker - A small gold nugget you can get ahold of and pick out of a gold pan

Precious Metal - Rare naturally occurring metals of high value

Gold Mining

Gold Extraction - Extraction and refining

Gold Rush* - Nice brief history of the larger events where people rushed to mine rich ore deposits

Mining Claim - Area of land for which mineral rights have legally claimed for some period of time so that gold may be mined without interference

Recreational Gold Mining

Gold Panning - Hand process with a pan to separate gold from sand/gravel

Color - As in "the pan has color" which refers to the presence of the bright yellow gold amongst the black sands in the pan

Dry Panning* - Panning dry material by shaking to get hevier material to settle to bottom, typically done in arid areas where water is hard to come by

Gravity Separation - Separating heavier components of a mixture from lighter components by using density of the materials

Riffles - Strips or ridges used with water to assist with gravity separation of gold from sands

Wet Panning - Using water to help move material around and get heavier material to settle to bot

Goldsmith* - The craft of making things from gold

Colored Gold* - Gold takes on colors depending on the impurities added

Gravel Bar - Sand and gravel deposits in a river or stream where the flow slows down

Gumbo - Sticky wet clay (the bane of a miner's existence as hard to tease gold out of)

High-Grade - Richer ore samples of a load mine or the richer portion of any gold deposit

High-Grading* - Practice of stealing or selective taking of only the high-grade ore from a mining operation

Metal Detectors* - Can assist in locating gold nuggets down to 3' (history and technology)

Mining* - In general, extraction of ore, minerals, and metals

Hard Rock Mining* - aka underground mining

Hushing* - Using flood or torrent to expose minerals such as gold

Hydraulic Mining* - Type of mining using water jets, form of Hushing

Placer Mining - Mining of sedimentary deposits (what we will do)

Mossing - Moss and soil just beneath it along stream banks can trap gold, breaking it up in a tub of water and panning the sand and silt can yield the gold. Drying and burning the moss pieces and panning the ashes can yield more gold

Ore - Rock containing important minerals including metals

Black Sand - Denser black material, typically heavy iron minerals, indicates possible Placer Deposits

Hematite - Iron ore, reddish brown in color, one of the main non-magnetic minerals in black sand concentrates

Magnetite - Iron ore, black in color, main magnetic mineral in black sand concentrates

Concentrate - Processed gravel and sand which has mostly just the dense material left (See Black Sand as example)

Eluvial Deposit - Deposit of gold and other load materials which have been swept away from the original load, but which have not reached an active waterway

Ore Genesis - Processes by which ore is formed

Overburden - Lower grade streambed or other material which lies on top of a placer pay-streak or load deposit

Placer Deposit - (Pronounce like 'plasser') Where gold was concentrated and deposited at some point by an active waterway (a form of Alluvial Deposit)

Benches - (aka Terrace Placers) Sections of old streambeds which have been left high and dry away from an active waterway

Recent Benches - High and dry streambed gravels (placer deposits) which were formed since the passing of the Pleistocene epoch (past 11,000 years)

Dry Placer - Placer deposit in a dry area

Flood Layer - Layers in deposits of streambeds laid down by different flooding episodes which can have distinct gold concentrations associated

Flood gold - Gold concentrated in a flood layer above earlier layers but not on bedrock layer

Heavy mineral sands ore deposits - aka Placer Deposits

Wet Placer - Placer deposit located below water surface

Residual Deposit - Deposit of gold and float that has weathered from its original load, but has not yet been swept away by various forces of nature

Values - Minerals of value contained within an ore-body, concentrates, or in streambed materials

Locked-In Values - Values tightly locked into an ore and requiring more involved processing to release

Pay - Amount of gold a load or streambed deposit is yielding

Pay-Dirt - Streambed materials with acceptable paying quantities of gold

Played-Out - When a gold deposit runs out

Poke* - A miner's container of gold, a small leather bag in the old days

Pothole - Holes or cavities along bedrock which act as gold traps

Prospecting - The general art of finding mineral deposits

Gold Prospecting

Quartz - Consists mainly of silica, which had a tendency to trap gold and other heavy minerals as they were pushed upward through cracks and fissures by superheated steam from the earth's interior

Refining* - Act of purifying ore or metal

Gold Parting* - Gold refining process separating silver impurities from gold

Salting - Seeding an area or a sample with real or simulated gold for testing of mining/panning methods or to decieve people into thinking there is gold in the area

Sluice Box* - A trough-like device with baffles or riffles on the bottom through which placer deposits are washed to separate and trap gold.

High Banking* or Highbanking* - aka Power Sluicing* - Moving water from the stream channel via mechanical means to a location outside of the steam channel floor to process placer deposits via a sluice box for its gold content.

Suction Dredge* - Sucks up placer deposits underwater and washes then through a floating sluice box to separate and trap gold.

Streak - Any narrow streak of concentrated ore in less valuable material

Pay-Streak - Larger sized placer gold streaks

Strike - Miner's term for when a good deposit of gold is found

Tailings - Unwanted mining material dumped

Troy Weight* - System of measure of weight of precious metals. There are 12 troy ounces per troy pound and 1 oz t is about [masked] oz but 1 lb t is about .8229 lb (i.e. Troy ounce is heavier than our usual ounce but the troy pound is lighter than our usual pound).

Troy Ounce (oz t)* - A typical unit of measure of weight of precious metals. There are 12 troy ounces per troy pound (vs. 16 ounces per pound in our usual avoirdupois system of the U.S.A.) and 1 oz t is about [masked] oz.

Vein* (geology) - Much gold is concentrated in this type of geologic structure

Lode* (geology) - The ore located in a crack or vein


Join or login to comment.

  • Julianna

    Nice weather, nicer people and a fun little adventure all around in the beautiful White Mtns! As usual Kevin was a terrific tour guide and a knowledgeable (and patient!) leader. :)

    July 23, 2013

    • Kevin S

      Thank you Juli! You are a kind learner who is game for adventure!

      I'm thinking about buying small gold nuggets and gold flakes to salt concentrates with so people can work with actual gold in the pan in the learning phase so they really see what gold in the pan looks like and how it acts.

      If the learner pays $5 (cost of the gold) they also get to keep the gold they pan out while learning! What do you (or anyone else) think of that idea?

      Thanks again for making the trip up. :-)

      July 23, 2013

  • Kevin S

    Great time though not much luck finding gold. We panned 3 sites and checked out a 4th to see the geology of it and where gold might be found. Firs pan site was classic streambed. The second was the area around some falls with a deep pool below. The forth was in a ravine with some waterfalls, deep pools, and a hidden beach.

    On a pre-panning the afternoon before at the first site I found 3 specks of gold with my first pan. Rebecca went on that one as she was going to try hiking up the mountain again in better weather the next day. The day of the event the best we did was one possible piece of gold that Elsa found at the end of the day.

    As we all didn't have deadlines really the day of the event, we explored, kinda swam (crossed the river in two areas waist to chest deep), had wild blueberries, a picnic lunch, sun, and fun! and yes, learned a lot about how to pan for gold.

    July 22, 2013

  • Kevin S

    Weather update 7/17/13 at 10:20 PM: The forecast for Sunday looks great for the area we are going to be in! Sunny with more sun than clouds. Highs in the upper 60s and low 8 mph winds. 63% humidity and 0% chance of rain.

    My cell is (860)[masked]

    July 18, 2013

  • Marina

    My back blew out and my PT advised me not to go. Darn!

    July 18, 2013

  • Kevin S

    Weather outlook: Long range weather outlook for the area for panning is GREAT! High of 71, sunny, 5 mph winds, humidity of 65%. It will be a great day to be around and in the water!

    (Source: )

    It's 7 days off still so the weather can change for the worse but keep our hopes up!

    Bring a bathing suit if you like as 2 of the 3 spots (2nd and 3rd) are great for swimming as long as the water flow isn't too fast (we'll see when we get there).

    July 14, 2013

  • Rebecca H.

    Kevin, I am not 100% sure I am going to go panning and if I do, it might not be for long so I want to say I am coming, but don't hold gear for me. If I come, I will just hang out and maybe give it a try sharing with someone for a quick bit.

    July 2, 2013

  • Kevin S

    I cleaned up the glossary at the end of the event description mostly by adding back the indention that was lost when I created the event. The glossary will make more sense now as sub items are defined and grouped by topic. (kinda geeky, I know)

    June 30, 2013

  • Marina

    plus one.

    June 26, 2013

    • Kevin S

      OK Marina, I fixed your RSVP to be +1. Will you both be borrowing my equipment or will you bring your own pan(s)?

      June 29, 2013

    • Marina

      Borrowing, please?

      June 30, 2013

  • Kevin S

    OK, so far I have Michelle, Michael971, and Elsa/Dean bringing their own gold pans. I have 8 pans of my own to share and 6 of those are allocated at this point. So, I've opened up two more slots for people to sign up where they can borrow a pan from me.

    For those planning on borrowing the use of my gold panning equipment, I do not rent the equipment to you but lend the equipment. Please consider a cash donation towards purchase of more equipment. I purchased the equipment with my own money to help share the experience and educate others. A suggested donation amount of $5 per person borrowing at the event would be very helpful.

    If anyone else would like to go you can purchase at least a gold pan (see event listing for source) and let me know you have your own and you can join in on the event.

    June 26, 2013

  • Jeri

    I have been invited to spend that weekend at my friend's beach house in Cape Cod. You all have fun!

    June 26, 2013

  • Kevin S

    Please update your RSVP to reflect if you truly are going gold panning or not so other people have a chance to sign up if a spot is open.

    June 24, 2013

  • Kevin S

    Yahoo! Yesterday I finally found my first traces of gold in VT! I left the site in south-western VT as-is for now as I might offer another trip to that location to pan out what we can.

    June 24, 2013

  • Kevin S

    OK, so far I have Michelle and Michael971 bringing their own gold pans so they are in on the event. I have otherwise only 8 pans to share and those are allocated at this point. If anyone else would like to go, if you obtain at least a gold pan (see event listing for source) let me know and you can join in on the event.

    April 14, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Can I bring another hiker with me?

    April 13, 2013

    • Kevin S

      Michelle, you can bring the other hiker if you are sharing your pan or if you will have another pan for them to use. Please let me know and I can update RSVP's accordingly.

      April 14, 2013

  • Kevin S

    For those planning on borrowing the use of my gold panning equipment, I do not rent the equipment to you but lend the equipment. Please consider a cash donation towards purchase of more equipment. I purchased the equipment with my own money to help share the experience and educate others. A suggested donation amount of $5 per person borrowing at the event would be very helpful.

    March 12, 2013

  • Marina

    Plus my husband?

    March 12, 2013

    • Kevin S

      Marina, you and your husband are in. One of the members is bringing her own gold pan so that frees one up for you and your husband to share. If you purchase a pan from one of the sources listed or your own source, both of you could be panning.

      March 12, 2013

  • Kevin S

    Added list to event description of what Host is bringing for equipment to share (can equip up to 8 people).

    March 12, 2013

  • Gloria

    sounds like fun, but it's my family reunion weekend

    March 12, 2013

6 went

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