Kennebec River

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Maine, USA

Kennebec River Rafting Guidebook

With regulated flows, the Kennebec delivers reliable thrills of big volume boating. The most popular section, The Gorge, is a short 3.5 mile run with back to back Class III and IV whitewater. Below that the river mellows out with scenic Class II on the Lower. A highlight of the Kennebec is Turbine Test Days, which happen just four times a year where the power company tests their turbines at full capacity, spilling 8,000 CFS into the river, which is about double the normal flow.

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Kennebec Gorge – Class II, III & IV

This is the main run for the Kennebec as it has the majority of the whitewater. Just a minute after the launching, the rapids come in fast succession, one after the other. Many kayakers prefer to take out at Carry Brook and lap the gorge, while most rafting trips will continue through to The Forks.

Indian Pond Campground:

Indian Pond Campground is located right next to the Harris Station Dam and is open April 15 – October 15.

Mile 0.36 – Taster Rapid:

Class II. First rapid on the run, featuring Ball Buster wave.

Mile 0.63 – Rock Garden:

Class III+. The ‘garden’ is on the left side of the run. Stay to the right to avoid it.

Mile 0.80 – Chase Stream Sluice Eddy:

River Right. Catch this eddy for a quick regrouping pause if you need it before you drop into Big Mama, which is just downstream.

Mile 0.91 – Big Mama:

Class IV. Also known as Three Sisters. This rapid features the biggest waves on the river.

Mile 1.05 – Whitewasher:

Class III. Avoid the big holes by staying to the left.

Mile 1.11 – Alleyway Rapid:

Class IV. Alleyway features a long wave train.

Mile 1.41 – Pocket Eddy:

River Left. Look for the ‘pocket’ eddy on river left.

Mile 1.55 – Cathedral Eddy:

Thank God you made it. The river takes its first big pause in this large area of slack water.

Mile 1.61 – Chase Stream:

River Right. Chase Stream comes in on the right here and marks the end of Cathedal Eddy and the beginning of Z-Turn rapid.

Mile 1.63 – Z-Turn:

Class II. Named after the dramatic bend in the river, Z-Turn is a short rapid.

Mile 1.96 – Magic Falls:

Class IV. The left of center line (known as The Highway) will avoid the Magic and Maytag Hole.

Mile 2.86 – Dead Stream:

River Right. Dead Stream cascades into the river here. This is a fun place to pause and check out the creek.

Mile 2.97 – Dead Stream Rapids:

Class III. Read and run Class III.

Mile 3.49 – Carry Brook Launch:

River Left. The river mellows out considerably past this point and the next takeout isn’t for another eight miles.

Lower Kennebec – Class II & III

Once out of the gorge, the Kennebec is seemingly an entirely different river as it eases into Class II and III. This section is typically done as a continuation of the gorge, however, if you have younger paddlers with, or those that are new to whitewater, then doing the Lower Kennebec as a standalone trip is a good option.

Mile 3.49 – Carry Brook Launch:

River Left. Putting in at Carry Brook allows you to cut out the large rapids upstream, which means this section is a good fit for younger passengers.

Mile 4.19 – Black Brook Stream:

River Left. Black Brook Stream comes in on river left, which is fed from Black Brook Pond which is a short distance away up the creek.

Mile 4.26 – Black Brook Rapid:

Class III. This is the largest rapid on this section, read and run.

Mile 4.44 – Dory Hole:

Class II. Read and run.

Mile 5.44 – Swimming area:

While the Lower has plenty of swimming opportunities, by this point you’re downstream of the whitewater so it’s a great opportunity to jump out of the raft and float.

Mile 8.74 – Cold Stream:

River Right. After a sharp left turn, Cold Stream comes in on the right.

Mile 9.03 – Moxie Stream:

River Left. Moxie Stream is home to the largest waterfall in Maine, Moxie Falls. The falls is 90 feet tall. You can’t get to it from the river, but it is an easy hike post trip.

Mile 11.60 – Forks Takeout:

 River Right. Just upstream from the bridge.