Boat Load of Maine–Canada Falls

First of Second Drop. Curt’s getting swallowed by the hole.

After a good day on the Rapid on Thursday, we drove a few hours farther into Maine on Friday to hit Canada Falls. With a few must-make moves, big drops and dense wilderness all around, Canada Falls quickly became one of my favorite New England rivers. Here’s the post on it!

The River

Canada Falls is another dam-release, class III-IV river. At only 3 miles, it is about typical Maine (though not as wide as the Dead) size in width and has a pool-drop rhythm to it. The river is actually the south Branch of the Penobscot and is considered a success story on the part of paddlers and American Whitewater. Through collaboration with Brascan power, Plum Creek, and the Piscataquis and Penobscot Indian tribes–AW and the paddling community were able to secure weekend releases for all of July and August for the next few decades. The first release was in August 2005.

The Rapids

Though it’s only 3 miles, Canada Falls offers five great rapids, and what’s best is the first

The First Drop in the way back and the Second Drop in the foreground

one can be run multiple times. The first one is called Slide, and as it’s name suggests, this rapid is basically a major slide with a huge off-side curler wave ready to stomp you should you hit it wrong (as 90 percent of your crew will do). It’s a really short, one move rapid with a big pool at the bottom for gear retrieval. The right bank is pretty shallow and will scratch you up should you go skin-to-the-wind that day.

A stretch of class II boogie water follows Slide until you come up to SYBOF that starts around a bend. This is a fairly easy rapid with a big consequence should you mess it up. So, it’s fine just stay upright! Start river right through a tongue angling river left to catch an eddy. From that river left eddy, you’ll see a big boulder; at higher waters you can just go left down a little slot type move. The more fun line is to go right. Now, here is the main feature to SYBOF–a giant-ass hole. It’s deep, it’s retentive, and you will not have fun in there at all. Totally easy to avoid by going river left.

Going through Second Drop

Another little stretch of boogie water and next comes Double Drop, two rapids separated by maybe 50 or so yards of calm water. First drop enter river left, stay left, and boof left of center at the drop. The drop has a good lip with another bad retentive hole so if you’re in a playboat, make sure to paddle hard after you land. If you’re in a creekboat, you can let go your paddle like some ridiculous paddlers did…it’s not a big deal.

The next drop is done far river right about 6 feet off the bank. Just punch a hole, and you’re golden. Last rapid is Megahole a few  yards below Second Drop, and it’s best run on river left to avoid an almost river-wide hole. After the final stretch of boogie water, the takeout’s on river right.

Canada Falls is fast, fun, and big. You can scout most any rapid, though most don’t really need it, just someone who knows the line. This river is worth running at least once every season to enjoy the rapids, the scenery, and the time spent out on the river. Get out and paddle it! See you on the river!

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