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Difficulty I-II(III)
Length 8 Miles
Gauge N/A
Flow Range
Reach Info Last Updated 04/29/2015 4:19 pm

River Description

This small creek is not likely to be on too many people's 'to do' list, but should be an intimate little paddle. The shuttle is (unfortunately) a bit long. You start in Harris Lake (elev.1533), out of which Nira Creek flows. More-or-less midway down this run (just prior to encountering FR428) Nira Creek ends as Denley Creek comes in from the left, and the remainder of the run takes this name. (It is possible/likely that this lower section could be runnable more often (with the added flow of Denley) and would have the advantage of a shorter shuttle.) Denley then runs into Stony River not far above the take-out, essentially at Birch Lake (elev.1418).

All information provided for this section is strictly conjecture, from online maps and satellite views. We have no first-hand knowledge of what you'll actually find. Have you done this section (or scouted it in some fashion)? Please add a comment below, or furnish a report (with photos/videos, if possible). Let your fellow paddlers know if this is a worthwhile addition to the whitewater options of the area, if it is a total disaster to even attempt, or something you may do once but vow "Never again!"

Rapid Descriptions

Drainage: 8 sq.mi.

Class - N/A Mile - 0
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Approximate drainage area at the outlet from (lower) Harris Lake (to the best of my ability using online planimeter and topomap, manually tracing watershed perimeter.) Downstream at/with the confluence with Denley Creek, drainage increases to ~15 square miles.

First Rocky Narrows

Class - N/A Mile - 1.37
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First off, all which follows is solely via online aerial views. As such, it is highly speculative, tentative, and likely incomplete. Anyone with first-hand knowledge (from either scouting or running this stretch) is encouraged to help your fellow boaters via the "Add a Comment" button which will appear below (for all logged-in registered users), or add a report (with photos/videos, if possible).

Over a mile-and-a-quarter of lake paddling will bring you to a narrowing with significant rocks in river and on shore. Expect a short, relatively straightforward rapids.

Second Rocky Narrows

Class - N/A Mile - 1.78
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Rocky Gap

Class - N/A Mile - 2.68
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It appears there may be a massive rocky entrance to the next narrowing. The next quarter-mile appears to have great opportunity for rapids from rocks and compression. Proceed with caution, as this area could have increased risk of snags or deadfall. Look well ahead, and be always aware of strenghth of current and prepared to head for eddies to portage if/where necessary.

More Rocky Narrows

Class - N/A Mile - 3.05
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The stream stays narrow from the prior listed gap, but lacks gradient or rocks for nearly a quarter-mile before resuming here as the creek twists through an 'S' turn.

Massively Rocky Stretch

Class - N/A Mile - 3.2
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After disappearing (from aerial views) between the trees for a stretch (which implies increased need to be alert for deadfall and snags), the stream emerges into view as it encounters what appears to be a stretch filled with large boulders and rock. Hard to know whether there's gradient to make this a true rapids. Depending on gradient and flow, it could be just a massive flatwater rock-dodge, a rapids with major pin-potential, or (at higher water) either turbulent flow or smooth water with rocks all covered.

Final Rocky Narrows on Nira Creek

Class - N/A Mile - 3.8
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Following the prior rocky stretch, the stream appears to encounter a broad perhaps marshy area (no trees til well-back from stream). However, as Nira Creek heads toward it's confluence with Denley Creek, it once more encounters a rocky pitch (with some gradient). It appears a massive rock in the stream may act as sentinel to signal this stretch.

Confluence, Denley Creek

Class - N/A Mile - 4.25
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After the prior rocky stretch (with attendant concern for deadfall and snags due to the tree-lined narrows and general low-volume creek unlikely to flush downed wood), the creek again encounters what appears to be a broader marshy area. Not far downstream, Nira Creek ends, as Denley Creek comes in from river-left and continues downstream.


Class - N/A Mile - 4.38
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Possible alternate access (put-in/take-out), likely to be used for the lower part of this run if/when the upper is too low.

Rock Dam?

Class - N/A Mile - 5.55
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After FR428, Denley Creek continues through wider floodplain area (trees well back from streambed) for over a mile until a rocky prominence is encountered. From aerial views and topo maps, it is tough to tell what is likely to be encountered here: short rapids pitch? or just a scenic outcropping?

Rock Wall

Class - N/A Mile - 5.75
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After a few broad meanders, the creek encounters what appears to be a rocky prominence. The creek is diverted sharply to the left before it finds a gap to spill through. (This may or may not entail a very short rapids.)

Series of Rock Dikes

Class - N/A Mile - 5.91
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Not far downstream of the prior noted wall of rock, after a couple meanders, another series of walls of rock are encountered. At least one of these pinches appears to create enough of a constriction so as to be likely to cause some interesting and scenic paddling.

Possibly more intesting rocky prominences

Class - N/A Mile - 5.97
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According to topo maps, from the prior listed dike of rock, and down to the bottom of the next bit of creek, there is at least 20' of drop in a pretty short distance. This could get quite interesting . . . either a significant drop, or possibly a necessary portage. Prepare to scout and proceed with caution.


Class - N/A Mile - 6.07
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The creek takes a fair meander/loop at this point. It appears there is a narrow channel to the left which may shortcut this loop. Downstream, the next bit of this creek mostly meanders through open lowland areas. A few random rocky outcroppings add to the scenery, but do not impinge on the creek in any way.

Stony River Confluence

Class - N/A Mile - 7.5
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The creek ends at the confluence with Stony River, not far above its take-out. However, you will get to enjoy its final couple of drops. The first low grade rocky rapids is just 0.1 downstream of the confluence. It starts pretty mild, but should build to a slightly more exciting finish. (Likely class II, maybe II+.)

Final drop

Class - N/A Mile - 7.9
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A quick rocky sliding drop, before rounding the bend to the left to your take-out.


No Gage

Gage Descriptions

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Directions Description

This shuttle is nearly an hour (each way). We highly recommend meeting at take-out, gearing up, swapping boats and boaters to as few vehicles as possible (to leave 'drop vehicles' there), then driving to put-in to run river. This gets you on water without the delay which would result from meeting at put-in, having to run shuttle down and back up (while some boaters wait somewhere near two full hours) before putting on river!

It is possible to do only the first- or second-half of the trip, with obviously shorter shuttle. Each of those still require shuttle of 40-45 minutes (each way), so the above advice would still apply.

No Accident Reports



article main photo

Penobscot River Dams to be Removed!

Kevin Colburn

Atlantic Salmon and other imperiled fish species will soon have hundreds of additional miles of habitat. A recent decision between a power company, NGO's, tribes, and government agencies calls for the removal of two dams on Maine's Penobscot River and the bypassing of a third. American Whitewater applauds this huge win for rivers and is recruiting volunteers to assist with our work on the project. There is a public meeting December 2nd.



Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1204016 01/19/15 Rob initial add
1204015 01/18/15 Rob n/a
1204589 04/29/15 Rob minor edit
1204588 04/29/15 Rob minor edit