Paddle the Kennebec, Penobscot, and Dead Rivers


Sep 12, 2013
Outside Magazine
Penobscot River

Penobscot River    Photo: Stephen G. Page via Shutterstock

The best autumn whitewater north of West Virginia is in Maine. The Kennebec, Penobscot, and Dead feature regular releases into the fall, though October 5 is the last day for the Dead, a phenomenal 16-mile run of nonstop Class III-IV whitewater. Follow that with a Sunday trip on the Kennebec, where a mostly mellow 12-mile stretch is spiced with a few Class IVs that rumble through a maple and pine ensconced 300-foot deep gorge. The big water Penobscot, two hours north in Baxter State Park, is a notch tougher, featuring the stout Class Vs Crib Works, and the huge hit in Rip Gorge.

WHEN TO GO:  The Penobscot’s foliage peaks early (typically by late September), but you can eke out views of Maine’s famous reds and oranges into early October on the Dead and Kennebec, which are further south.

ROUTE: North Country Rivers runs all three rivers. The company maintains a full-service base camp for the Penobscot in Millinocket and one for the Dead and Kennebec in Bingham.

LIFE PRESERVER: Hit Patrick's for some Maine lobster at North Country’s base camp, or dirtbag it with the raft guides at The Marshall’s in Forks. A burger and a domestic beer is just $6 on Mondays and it’s 2 for 1 pizzas on Wednesdays.

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