Penobscot, W. Branch - Seboomook Dam to Roll Dam Campsite

Penobscot, W. Branch, Maine, US


Seboomook Dam to Roll Dam Campsite (Seboomook)

Usual Difficulty III+ (for normal flows)
Length 2.5 Miles
Avg. Gradient 25 fpm
Max Gradient 39 fpm

E-Ledge left slot

E-Ledge left slot
Photo of Scott Gravatt by Mark Lacroix taken 07/04/03 @ 520 cfs

River Description


Technical info

Put in elevation........1017'
Take out elevation......968'
Total drop..............49'
Average drop/mile.......25'
Mile 1 drop.............10'
Mile 2 drop.............39'
Distance................2.0 miles
River width average.....180'
River geology...........ledge, many of them
River water quality.....excellent.
Scenery.................Beautiful north Maine woods forested scenery
Wildlife................Deer, Moose, bears, Merganzers, Hawks, eagles, comerants 


Low Flow Alert


Fall 2013 Release Alert:
As indicated in my August 27 e-mail (below), GLHA has re-assessed water conditions at the Storage Project for providing fish attraction, angling, and recreational boating flows from Seboomook Dam (required from September 1 through October 14). Based on this re-assessment, GLHA proposes to continue passing 800 cfs as long as storage is available in Seboomook Lake (i.e., until the maximum drawdown limit of 17 feet is reached). The attached spreadsheet projects that the maximum drawdown would be reached in early October, based on current inflows.
Please let me know if you have any concerns or comments.
Kevin Bernier
The Storage Project license, water quality certificate, and July 2004 Offer of Settlement require that Great Lakes Hydro America, Inc. (GLHA) consult with the settlement group regarding the Seboomook fish attraction, angling, and recreational boating flows to be provided from September 1 through October 14. Specifically, the Offer of Settlement states:
"The Licensee shall consult with PIN, PT, BIA, USFWS, NPS, MDIFW, MDOC, AMC, AW, and NEFLOW during the last week of August to evaluate water conditions and set fish attraction/angling/recreational boating flows (typically from within the 750-1,250 cfs range)".
The Water Quality Certification states:
"From September 1 to October 14, a flow typically between 750 and 1250 cfs for fish attraction, angling and recreational boating, as determined through a consultation process set forth in the July 16, 2004 Offer of Settlement."
GLHA has reviewed the current water conditions at Seboomook, and is proposing an initial target flow of 800 cfs from Seboomook Dam beginning September 1. However, based on current inflows, this flow would not be sustainable for the entire September 1 – October 14 period. Therefore, GLHA suggests a reassessment of water conditions on September 10 to determine the flows that would be sustainable for the remaining period through October 14. 
The attached spreadsheet table shows GLHA’s current plan for 2013 salmon attraction flows from Seboomook.  Based on the current inflow conditions, which are slightly below normal due to recent dry conditions, GLHA has used an inflow estimate of 0.8 x LTA (Long Term Average) in this analysis. Inflows are from the South and North Branches of the Penobscot River, including the Canada Falls impoundment. The Seboomook impoundment is currently drawn down about 7 ½  feet from full pond. This analysis shows that without an increase in rainfall, GLHA will not be able to maintain the 800 cfs initial attraction flow throughout the September 1 through October 14 period without dropping below the minimum elevation of 1056.00 ft. USGS. Therefore, a 700 cfs flow from September 11 – 30, and then a 500 cfs flow for October 1 – 14 are used as flow inputs. Under this proposal, GLHA has projected that the development would reach an inflow = outflow operation by October 14 with the current low inflow conditions.
Please let me know this week if you have and concerns or comments regarding this Seboomook flow plan for the period September 1 through October 14.
Kevin Bernier
Manager, Compliance
Brookfield Renewable Energy Group
US Operations
1024 Central Street, Millinocket, ME  04462
T 207 723-4341 ext. 118 C 207 951 5006



Posted by Tom Christopher July 11th, 2007
The Storage Project license, water quality certificate, and July 2004 Offer of Settlement require a minimum flow from Seboomook of 500 cfs from July 16 to August 31. Due to recent lack of rainfall and low tributary inflow to Seboomook lake (currently about 180 cfs), GLHA is reducing Seboomook outflows to approximately 200 cfs today in order to maintain the loon nesting elevation through July 15. Absent significant rainfall, GLHA expects Seboomook outflows to remain well below the 500 cfs minimum flow level (but above the 150 cfs license requirement) after July 15 to avoid a rapid drawdown of the Seboomook impoundment. The July 2004 Offer of Settlement allows minimum flows to be temporarily modified if required by (1) operating emergencies beyond the control of GLHA, and (2) upon mutual agreement between GLHA and the DEP, after consultation with IF&W, F&WS, PIN and PT, with notice to the BIA, NPS, DOC, AMC, AW and NEFLOW. The purpose of this E-mail is to satisfy the intent of this consultation requirement (although the project is still being operated under a 150 cfs minimum flow requirement).


It's remote, accessed only by a driving a 37-mile dirt road, it will cost you $8 ($5 Maine residents) per person per day for the right to use this dirt road, and you have to paddle a half mile of flatwater before you get to the good stuff; but it's worth it. The Seboomook section of the West Branch of the Penobscot is a great place for almost any boating skill level at the low summertime release level. The drop and pool nature of this river is unlike most other New England rivers, which have long boulder strewn rapids. Novice paddlers will find they can carry any or all the drops without bushwhacking several hundred yards. If they choose to run, the drops are intense but very short with a large slow recovery pool below. Intermediate paddlers will find the Seboomook to be a great place to learn how to scout a rapid, boof drops and punch holes. Advanced paddlers will find challenge playing the holes at the base of the drops and boofing gnarly lines at E and I Ledges.
All in all the Seboomook is a great place to visit.

Says Bear, of the Northeast Paddlers' Message Board:

Let's talk serious whitewater fun (those Honyaks in Maine have plenty!)...try your hand at paddling the West Branch of the Penobscot's Roll Dam dam here, just a few miles of beautiful ledges/pool drops..but, more fun than a barrel of monkeys...if you mess up (open boaters w/out a roll like me), you simply pickup your canoe/self in the pool after each of the drops, climb back in on a ledge and drop into the next one...good clean water, easy access and of course the beauty of the Maine woods...class depends on flow, but probably a class 3 at medium flows...wicked pissa fun in the hot summertime when running.

Brandon Cain adds:

This is one of my favorite places to paddle. Scout Redrock and Meat Cleaver. The drops all have nice pools at the bottom, and this is a great place for paddlers of all skills.

Posted on the MVP message board by Phil Urban on July 2, 2002
Quite a few calls later... including John Frascella, one of our AW men/reps up here.... No telling about levels holding or not, but 3845 is probably a short term thing.
Seboomook at 3845... "Big, pushy, but not the Ottawa". It really "comes into its full glory" at 5000. John helped coordinate a flow study this spring and the highest they ran it was 2400. A couple people raved about the hole at the top at that level. "A big fluffy rodeo hole". At 2400, the rest of the run was quite similar to 1000, though some of the holes were filled in and less sticky. Everone I talked to expressed interest, or fondness, for it at levels like 3850. By today's rating standards, probably a class 4 run at this level.
Canada Falls ( South Branch of the Penob.) . This gets a little harder to relate. When they did the flow study, the lake was full. They (John and some others that know that river as well as anyone) put on at what the "new engineer" was saying was 900. The river was just up in the trees. More like what they new as twice that CFS "traditionally". John, a C1er, but a Cribworks regular, said that was all he wanted. But, because of the smallness of the impoundment, and no real flow gauge, the level drops as the release goes on. What was 1500ish today may be 1200ish tomorrow and 900ish the next day, even though the phone is telling us 1500. So, the phone info right now is not real reliable, except to tell us that they are releasing a goodly amount of water. If its in the trees when you get there, take a long hard look before you put on, but its not likely to be that high. There used to be a rock, in the water at the putin, that had 0,1,2,and 3 painted on it, I think the paint is still there. I've paddled it through that range, but not above. IMO, at those levels, it was still a class 4, 4+ run. If John is at the edge of his comfort zone, when its reaching the trees, then I've gotta figure that's a class 5 level. When I did it at "1000+" in the past, it was not in the trees at all.
Seboomook is much more reliably measured when releasing, so what we have always known as 950 is still 950. Also, the West Branch is releasing 2800, but John (who lives there in the summer and knows that river *very* well) says that it is more like what we've come to know as 3000 to 3100. This is a level that punches up the difficulty considerably, especially compared to recent low flow seasons.
John was excited (if you know John, he's an excitable guy :)) that I'm posting this to the MVP board. As with many of our hard won negotiated rec. releases, more boaters using the resource is a good thing. In this case the deal is not done, so y'all have a responsibility to come on up and have fun. :-) We boated there on Father's Day weekend, at 940 CFS, and our party of 7 was all alone, 'cept for the Otters, Mink, Loons, Moose etc, etc. Sorry this was so long, hopefully the info will be useful to some folks. How accurate all this info is, I don't know, how well I've relayed it is undoubtedly poor. :-)

North Maine Woods Inc.

The Seboomook section of the Penobscot lies in what is known as the North Maine Woods. North Maine woods is a consortium of private landowners (mostly paper companies), encompassing 3.5 million acres of working forest. It is rugged remote country many miles from the conveniences of modern day life. To get more information on access fees, gate locations and hours, camping information, etc. go to the North Maine Woods website.


It's not the easiest place to get to but the scenery is nice and the dirt roads are not too bad. You will want to start your trip into the small town of Rockwood Maine on the western shore of Moosehead lake. To get to Rockwood take exit 39 off of Interstate 95
head north on ME 7
In Dexter take a left and head north on ME 23
In Guilford take a left and head north on ME 15/6
This will take you to Greenville continue on ME 15/6 by taking a left in Greenville
15 miles will bring you into Rockwood
Continue through the other side of town then stop at the Rockwood country store on the Moose river for supplies.
If you are coming up from the Forks area take ME 201 north to Jackman
Take a right onto ME 15/6 to Rockwood. It is approximately 50 miles from the Forks, there are other options to get here using logging roads but refer to the Maine atlas and Gazetteer for those options.
Once in Rockwood at the country store get all your supplies including food and gas up your vehicle there are very limited services within the North Maine Woods region.
From Rockwood
Approximately 37 miles to the put in
From the country store head west 1/2 mile, then take a right on the bridge over the Moose river.
Bear right on the otherside of the bridge, pavement will turn to a good dirt road within a mile.
20 miles on this road to the "20 mile checkpoint" and gate run by a consortium of paper companies
At the gate pay $8 per person per day ($5 Maine resident)
Proceed towards Pittston Farm then take a right on Boyd road.
Continue on this road approximately 12 miles until you see a sign for Seboomook campground
Take a left here just before the campground then another immediate left at the next intersection. Seboomook campground does have limited but expensive supplies and gas if needed.
Follow the road to the put in which is 1/2 mile further than the road to Seboomook Dam visible on your left as you are driving.
You can either put in where the river comes close to the road at a washed out section that was repaired with boulders or a hundred yards before the washout at a small trail on your left.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2013-09-12 17:48:32


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0River mapPutin Takeout Photo
0.0Put in ledgesII+Putin
1.4K-LedgeIITakeout Photo

Rapid Descriptions

River map

Seboomook Map

Seboomook Map
Photo by Mark Lacroix

Put in ledges (Class II+)
If you put in at the trail slightly upstream from the road washout, you can carry down to the base of two river wide ledges. Carry up and run on river left through two grabby holes. Some play at the base of the drop while waiting for the shuttle crew.

B-Ledge (Class II, Mile 0.8)
One of the smaller ledge drops comes shortly after A-Ledge. Good play at the base.

A-Ledge (Class II, Mile 0.8)

A-Ledge Seboomook

A-Ledge Seboomook
Photo of Mo Smith by Mark Lacroix taken 07/04/03 @ 520 cfs

After a long flatwater paddle the first A-Ledge is a sight for sore arms. Run down the middle.

C-Ledge (Class II, Mile 0.8)

C-Ledge Seboomook

C-Ledge Seboomook
Photo of Laurie Cestnick by Mark Lacroix taken 07/04/03 @ 520 cfs

Easily run on river right. Good surfing half way down.

E-Ledge (Class III+, Mile 0.9)

Left slot E-Ledge Seboomook

Left slot E-Ledge Seboomook
Photo of Russ Flewelling by Mark Lacroix taken 07/04/03 @ 520 cfs

Wide conjested drop with multiple lines. The far left slot is most difficult. The far right slot opens up in medium to high water. The usual route is down the middle over a double stairstep drop avoiding ledge and holes along the way.

D-Ledge (Class II+, Mile 0.9)

D-Ledge Seboomook

D-Ledge Seboomook
Photo of Sharon Lacroix by Mark Lacroix taken 07/04/03 @ 520 cfs

Big grabby hole at the bottom of this drop. Just get some speed up and ram through.

F-Ledge (Class II, Mile 1.0)
Easy hole to punch

G-Ledge (Class III, Mile 1.1)

G-Ledge Seboomook

G-Ledge Seboomook
Photo of David Smith by Mark Lacroix taken 07/04/03 @ 520 cfs

Simple drop into a big hole but the hole tends to flip boaters quite often.

I-Ledge (Class III, Mile 1.2)

Left of center slot I-Ledge

Left of center slot I-Ledge
Photo of Robyn Munford by Mark Lacroix taken 07/04/03 @ 520 cfs

Multiple options here, the ledge is very wide at this point in the river. There are many options to run through Left slot, middle slot, right slot, left of center slot, you get the idea. The easiest is far left where most of the water flow goes. There is also a rough playhole at the base of left slot. Center and Left of center slot are more verticle and can be a wonderfull place to learn how to boof a drop. Carry back upstream and run over or try a different slot.

J-Ledge (Class III+, Mile 1.3)

J-Ledge Seboomook

J-Ledge Seboomook
Photo of Mary Costello by Mark Lacroix taken 07/04/03 @ 520 cfs

A very simple drop but has the biggest hole on the Seboomook. Stay center to left of center dropping through the hole at the bottom. Shallow and rocks on the right could be a problem.

K-Ledge (Class II, Mile 1.4)

K-Ledge Seboomook

K-Ledge Seboomook
Photo of Kevin Lindberg by Mark Lacroix taken 07/04/03 @ 520 cfs

The last drop before the takeout. It is a double ledge drop with a slanted second ledge that breaks from river left to right. Catch the wave just after the first ledge on river right then surf it down to river left.

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