Maine River Trips

ArrayJune 11, 2021 at 3:17 pm

Paddling along Maine’s many water ways is a favorite pastime for anglers and anyone who enjoys the serenity of being on the water, turning around bends only to share the river with wildlife and the splash of a rising fish. Here are a few trip ideas throughout the state, with varying lengths and difficulty levels. Before you go, always do you research and plan ahead. You may need to consult a gazetteer and other resources before making the trip. And always tell someone where you are going, and when you plan to return.

If the idea of a river trip excites you, but you don’t have the gear or would feel more comfortable with the guidance of an expert, consider hiring a registered Maine guide. Guides often provide all or most of the gear and have likely paddled the river multiple times. They’ll be ready to help you relax and enjoy, while sharing tips, helping point out wildlife, and more. Guides enjoy taking groups, individuals, families and more. Click here to find a registered Maine guide.

A – Sebago Lake Region

From Fisheries Resource Supervisor Jim Pellerin

There are variety of canoe/kayak trips available in the Sebago Lake Region, but two that I would recommend for anglers and nonanglers are both located on the Big Androscoggin River.

Big Androscoggin River – Upper Section

Where to put in and take out: The first reach would be the upper river from Gilead to West Bethel. The upper launch is in Gilead off Bridge Street and the take-out location is at Newt’s Landing located in West Bethel off the Ferry Road.

Trip duration: The float is approximately 7 miles and can take anywhere from about 4-6 hours depending on how much angling/stop time is involved.

Fish species to target: Target fish species would primarily be rainbow, brown, and brook trout.  The best times for this float to fish are May-June and then again in the fall from September-mid November. For nonanglers, it’s also just a nice scenic float. 

Big Androscoggin River – Lower Section

Where to put in and take out: The next reach is located from the Rumford/Mexico line to Canton. The upper launch site is located in Mexico off of Riverside Avenue and the take-out would be on the northside of the river off Dorey Drive in Canton. 

Trip duration: This float is a long one at about 17 miles long; however, the trip can be cut in half by taking out at the launch Dixfield of Canton Point Road (near Green Island).

Fish species to target: For anglers, the target fish species is predominantly smallmouth bass, and for nonanglers again it makes for a relatively easy, scenic float.  The best times to float for angling would be anytime from June-October.

Learn more about these trips, other Androscoggin River trips, and maps on the Androscoggin River Watershed Council website.

B – Belgrade Lakes Region

From Fisheries Resource Technician Scott Davis

Two great river trips in the Belgrade Lake Region are the Sebasticook River and Belgrade Stream.

Sabasticook River

Where to put in and take out: Put in below the Burnham Dam off Route 100, the take-out is on the Troy Rd at the steel bridge four corners.

Trip duration: The trip is about 2 to 3 miles, easy paddle, and a little white water – class 1.

Fish species to target: Smallmouth bass and Fall fish.  

Other information: Summer and early fall are the best time to fish this stretch of the river.

Belgrade Stream

Where to put in and take out: Put in at Route 135 in Belgrade, the take-out is at Route 27 bridge.

Duration of trip: The trip is a little over 2 miles and is an easy paddle.    

Fish species to target: Smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, and northern pike.

Other information: Summer and early fall are the best time to fish this stretch of the river.

C – Grand Lake Region

From Fisheries Resource Supervisor Greg Burr

I would recommend two canoe trips in the region, the St. Croix River and the Machias River. The St. Croix River is by and large a gentle river that can be done by a novice canoeist, while the Machias River is recommended for experienced paddlers only.

St. Croix River

Where to put in and take out: Paddlers here can put in off the Loon Bay Road in Lambert Lake Twp., just below Tyler Rips and take out at the canal in Kellyland at Grand Falls Flowage. 

Trip duration: The duration of this trip is two days and canoers can camp at one of the many camp sites on the American side of the river. Campsites are first come first serve.

Fish species to target: Anglers in the group can target both largemouth and smallmouth bass. 

Other information: I suggest boaters paddle this river anytime between the middle of June to the end of August. There is one portage on the river at Canoose Rips.

Machias River

Where to put in and take out: Canoeists can put in at the bridge off the “Stud Mill Road” at First Machias Lake and take out at Smith Landing in Northfield.

Trip duration: The durations of this trip is two days with an overnight at the Route 9 camp site.

Fish species to target: For anglers, if they take this trip in June, they can target brook trout, smallmouth and largemouth bass. There will be several portages around falls below Route 9, the first at Little Falls and the second at Holmes Falls. 

Other information: I recommend paddlers do this trip in June.  Campsites are first come first serve. This trip should be taken by experienced paddlers.

D – Rangeley Lakes Region

From Fisheries Resource Supervisor Liz Thorndike

Sandy River

Where to put in and take out: Put in at the hand carry launch in Farmington, the launch is at the end of Corn Shop Lane off Route 27 and 2. Take out at the hand carry launch in New Sharon off Route 2.

Trip duration: Depends on how fast the fish are biting but plan on 4 hours. This stretch of river is approximately 8 miles. This is a day-trip only.

Fish species to target: Brook trout, brown trout, and bass

Best time to fish that stretch: During spring and fall anglers can expect to catch brook trout and brown trout and during summer months anglers can still catch trout but June through August can provide faster fishing for bass.  

Other information: At the end of the day when you head back to your vehicle, you’ll find yourself a short distance from downtown Farmington. If you’ve never explored the town of Farmington it’s a small town with a great selection of restaurants, stores, and Gifford’s ice cream.

E – Moosehead Lake Region

From Fisheries Resource Supervisor Tim Obrey

West Outlet of Kennebec River

Where to put in: Rt 15 bridge at West Outlet Dam or you can avoid several large deadwaters and Long Pond by accessing the river from the Somerset Rd which follows the West Outlet for several miles.

 Take out: Indian Pond, either on the west shore with road access off the Somerset Rd, or the boat launch on the east shore with road access from the Burnham Pond road.

Trip duration: Full day, 8 or 9 miles. There is no camping on the river, but there are tent sites at the two take-out locations.

Fish species to target: Smallmouth bass, hatchery brook trout and landlocked salmon, trophy chubs!

Best time to fish that stretch: Anytime. The great thing about the West Outlet is there is a steady flow year-round which is good for canoeing.

Other information: Short rapids below Long Pond and Round Pond on the trip.

Moose River, Upper

Where to put in and take out: Attean Pond is the put in and the take-out location. That makes this a very attractive canoe trip.

Trip duration: 3-4 days, around 34 miles. Camping sites along the river and the ponds managed by the Maine DACF – Bureau of Parks and Lands.

Fish species to target: Brook trout, landlocked salmon, chubs

Best time to fish that stretch: May-June is best for fishing. This is a natural flowing river so flows can vary with rainfall.

Other information: More info on the Bureau of Parks and Land website. This is a great trip for wildlife viewing: moose, deer, loons, eagles, and ospreys. The trains still run the tracks, just like the old days.  Holeb Village is an old train stop location and many of the old buildings remain and are now camps.

F – Penobscot Region

From Fisheries Resource Supervisor Kevin Dunham and Fisheries Resource Biologist Kevin Gallant

Baskahegan River – Bancroft to Topsfield

Where to put in and take out: Various possibilities; see the Maine Trail Finder website for detailed locations and general trip information

Trip duration: Can tailor to your needs based on choice of put in/take out locations, overall length is approximately 34 miles

Overnight camping if a multi-day trip: Numerous tent sites available along the route, see website for location details

Fish species to target: There is agood smallmouth bass fishery in the Baskahegan River, along with a smallmouth bass and white perch fishery in Baskahegan Lake. Additionally, brook trout are present seasonally in the Baskahegan River.

Best time to fish that stretch: Mid-May through June, and the month of September, is the prime timeframe for angling on Baskahegan Stream, particularly for brook trout.

Other information: Quiet and scenic, the Baskahegan River trip is great for beginners, this paddle contains mostly flat water with a modest amount of quick water. Stream water levels are generally adequate for paddling this route during spring/early summer and again in the fall. As always be prepared to be on the water and wear your life jacket. Make sure you leave a trip plan with someone that can check to make sure you safely make it off the river.

Penobscot River – Medway to Veazie

Where to put in and take out: Lots of possibilities, the Maine gazetteer is a very helpful tool.  There are several boat launches and other put in/take out locations.  You can also consult the Penobscot River Paddling Trail website, here you will find information on access points with river mile locations.

Trip duration: Could be anything from a half day trip to several days depending on put in and take out.

Overnight camping if a multi-day trip: Once again see this website for more  This website is loaded with information on campsites and contact information.  It also includes river miles so you can plan the duration of your trip.

Fish species to target:  Smallmouth bass are the main species to target. Occasionally one may catch a landlocked salmon or brook trout, especially in the upper river reaches early in the season before water temperatures increase. Lower in the river one could catch a variety of sea run fish, including striped bass and American shad. Consult the Maine fishing law book to be aware of limits and seasons, or use the Fishing Laws Online Angling Tool.

Best time to fish that stretch: This trip can be done anytime from mid-June through August.  One could expect excellent fishing throughout this time period, but maybe less bugs later in the summer.

Other information: There are several rips, dams and portages on the river.  As always be prepared to be on the water and wear your life jacket.  Make sure you leave a trip plan with someone that can check to make sure you safely make it off the river.  For the novice paddler the Passadumkeag to Greenbush section should be a solid daytrip.  For the more advanced paddler you will find great bass fishing as well as whitewater in the section below the Milford Dam. There are guides in the area available for hire, or to simply assist with shuttling a vehicle.

G – Fish River Lakes Region

From Fisheries Resource Supervisor Frank Frost

Meduxnekeag River

Where to put in and take out: Downtown Houlton at the junction of Highland Avenue and River Street, take out at the MDIFW launch to Watson Settlement Bridge (The Covered Bridge) in Littleton off Framingham Road

Trip duration:  6.7 miles, day trip

Fish species to target: Brook trout, brown trout and smallmouth bass

Best time to fish that stretch: May

Other information: This is a great early season trip when you only have a day to go. Despite being close to downtown Houlton and roads and agriculture, the river winds through a “green belt” of forest along the river that gives a sense of remoteness. The stretch is gentle with no rapids or white water, so it is an easy paddle in a day. Special fishing regulations apply here so consult the rule book before making an angling trip. Trout fishing can be very good here given the right water conditions; anglers should focus on time periods when flows are still fairly high with water temperature around 60 degrees.  The Meduxnekeag has a naturalized brown trout population that was established in the 1940s.  Brown trout reach larger size than brook trout here with fish up to 25 inches having been caught.  Invasive bass invaded the river in the late 1990s and have become more numerous in recent years.  This stretch is frequented by people harvesting fiddleheads.

Aroostook River

Where to put in and take out: Downtown Caribou off Lower Lyndon Street, public boat access to Fort Fairfield, public boat access off Riverside Avenue just downstream from Route 1A

Trip duration:  7 to 13 miles, day trip

Fish species to target:  Brook trout, landlocked salmon

Best time to fish that stretch:  mid-May through June

Other information:  This is the last stretch of the Aroostook River before it crosses the U.S./Canada boundary so it’s big water that requires larger watercraft this time of year. Some anglers prefer to troll this stretch under higher water conditions while others target lower flows to anchor and cast to pools and deep runs. Insect hatches can be intense and often bring trout to the surface.  This is a unique angling experience where you can target wild brook trout up to 18 inches in large river habitat. The trip can be reduced for those not wanting to paddle the last 6 miles that is much slower moving water and can be challenging with a head wind. If so, you can end the trip about 7 miles from Caribou at an MDIFW owned boat launch called Forbes Pit. This launch is visible from Route 161 and is located on the Caribou/Fort Fairfield town line. 

  • Before you go, always tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return.
  • ALWAYS wear a life jacket – it can only help save your life if you are wearing it.
  • Read the You Alone in the Maine Woods (PDF), your personal survival manual for the Maine woods and pack a survival kit.
  • Be prepared for ticks – bring bug repellent, treat clothes with Permethrin or other tick repellent, wear light colored clothing to make it easier to see ticks, tuck in your pants, and always check yourself for ticks.