Paddling Rivers & Streams ~ Mooosehead Lake Region
Paddling Rivers & Streams
"CAUTION" No river or stream should be attempted without thoroughly researching what it has to offer. Water levels can profoundly alter a river's character, difficulty, and safety. Detailed descriptions of almost every river in Maine, including miIeage, difficulty, put-in and take-out, and sources of further information are available in the Appalachian Mountain Club's Maine River Guide, published by AMC Books, 5 Joy Street, Boston, MA 02108 (617) 523-0636. Also, DeLorme Mapping Co. puts out a guide to rivers in Northern Maine

The Moosehead area offers a few river sections with no significant whitewater that can be paddled by novices looking for current without obstacles:

Moose River: Brassua To Moosehead - This short stretch of river below Brassua Dam flows year-round. It is all flatwater with a swift current except for one mile of Class I fastwater below the dam. The sporting camps and homes of Rockwood line the shore as the river approaches Moosehead Lake.

West Branch Penobscot: Roll Dam Campsite To Lobster Stream - This section of gently flowing river makes an easy day trip for novice canoeists, with only a few channels to negotiate at the beginning, and opportunity to observe wildlife. Paddlers could continue on up Lobster Stream to Lobster Lake for an overnight trip. Private road use and camping fees are charged

Whitewater Rivers

The Moosehead Region is ideally located to please whitewater enthusiasts of all skill levels. Midway between the hydropower dams on the Kennebec Gorge and the Penobscot's Ripogenus Gorge, and only 20 minutes from the East Outlet of the Kennebec, Greenville provides a central base from which to take advantage of dam-released flows on Class II to Class V water all summer long. Several other river sections near Moosehead are dependent upon natural flows and make good whitewater runs only in spring and after periods of heavy rainfall

Kennebec River: East Outlet - At medium water levels, nearly continuous Class II and III rapids make this three-mile section of river from Moosehead Lake to Indian Pond an fun run for the experienced canoeist or intermediate kayaker. Many paddlers use the East Outlet for whitewater instruction and practice, as it is only twenty minutes from Greenville. A logging road to Indian Pond provides take out access. Water level is dam-controlled: call Central Maine Power at (800)557-3569 for daily level.

KENNEBEC RIVER: WEST OUTLET - The West Outlet is a very different world from its neighbor a few miles away. This ten-mile stretch of small ponds linked by shallow Class I and II rapids makes a good day trip when water levels are adequate. Without enough water, the river sections become too boney to paddle. Water level is dam-controlled: call Central Maine Power for daily level at (800)557-3569.

KENNEBEC GORGE - This beautiful gorge provides a big-water run primarily used for whitewater rafting and expert decked boating, and commercial raft trips are run daily from Harris Dam to the Forks. In certain water levels experienced open canoeists can navigate the section from Carry Brook to the Forks, but because the dam is a power-generating station, water levels may change dramatically and dangerously within minutes. Daily water levels can be obtained by calling Central Maine Power at (800)557-3569. Releases from 4,500 to 6,500 cfs are common and good levels for decked boaters.

West Branch Penobscot River: Seboomook Dam To Roll Dam Campsite - Just north of Moosehead Lake, "Seboomook" is a three-plus-mile stretch of pool and drop Class III-IV (rating depends on water level - 800 to 2,000 cfs is the warm weather norm) rapids that offer a fun challenge to experienced boaters. Most of the ledge drops can be scouted. Private road use fees are charged to access this area. Water levels can be obtained by calling Great Northern Paper at (207)723-2328.

Lower West Branch Penobscot: - Sections of the Lower West Branch are suitable only for the most experienced closed-boat paddlers, and feature Class IV and V whitewater. Commercial rafting trips are run daily from Ripogenus Gorge to Pockwokamus Deadwater. This beautiful river offers stunning views of Mt. Katahdin. At lower water levels, some segments can be run by experienced open boaters who know the river and are prepared to scout and portage the bigger drops. Water levels are controlled by Ripogenus Dam, a hydro station, and can change dramatically and dangerously. Call Great Northern Paper at (207)723-2328 for daily water levels. Flows between 1,500 and 3,600 cfs are considered normal in the summer months.

Lower Dead River: Spencer Stream To The Forks. The Lower Dead is one of the finest stretches of canoeable whitewater in the northeast, with sixteen miles of long Class II and III rapids in a pristine wilderness setting. A series of scheduled weekend water releases throughout the season make planning a trip on the Dead possible. At other times the river may not be runnable. Releases intended for rafting and closed boats will be dangerous for open canoes, so be sure the level is appropriate before you plan your run. Contact Central Maine Power (800)557-3569 for water release information, and Webb's Store in the Forks for shuttles (207)663-2214.

Roach River: Kokadjo To Moosehead Lake - This 6 1/2 mile stretch of continuous current with Class I, II, and two class III rapids can be paddled in high to medium water. Vehicles can be shuttled to Jewett Cove or Spencer Landing on Moosehead Lake (close to a mile of lake paddling to your car - pay attention to wind direction when planning your take-out). Check with Inland Fisheries and Wildlife in Greenville (207)695-3756 about water levels (this river is not runnable when low), and in May check to be sure the ice is out on Moosehead.

Piscataquis River: Blanchard To Abbot - In spring or after heavy rains this 8-mile run can be navigated by paddlers with class II-III experience. The gorge at Barrows Falls should be scouted and can be portaged on the left or right. This gorge becomes a challenging Class IV in high water.

Kingsbury Stream: - Kingsbury makes a fun whitewater excursion during spring runoff. The eight miles between the Route 16 bridge at Thorn Brook and the town of Abbot is mostly a Class II-III run, with several difficult ledge drops that should be scouted and a class III-IV right at the beginning that can be run only at the right water level.

Moose River: Demo Brldge To Brassua Lake - This two-mile section offers challenging Class II-III rapids after carrying or lining boats around the ledge and waterfall just below the bridge. Decked boats can run these two drops after scouting. Water levels may vary throughout the season, and take-out access may require miles of paddling on Brassua Lake.

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