Bull Branch (of the Sunday River), Maine, US
|Usual Difficulty||IV-V (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||165 fpm|
|Wild River at Gilead, Maine|
|usgs-01054200||650 - 6000 cfs||IV-V||6d19h52m||~ 147 cfs (too low)|
The Bull Branch is easily accessed by driving northwest up the Sunday River Rd. from Rt. 26 in Newry, Maine. After the road turns to dirt and crosses the Bull Branch (there is a cool falls near the bridge), bear right up Bull Branch Road.
There is a parking lot towards the top of the Bull Branch Road. If the water is high, you can start your run on either the upper Bull Branch (on the right as you hike upstream) or Goose Eye Brook (on the left as you hike upstream). From there, either hike ~100 feet left into Goose Eye Brook and run the slides, or hike up the Bull Branch Road and cut right into the woods to find the Bull Branch. If you hike in to the Bull Branch from here, be aware of a short but rowdy looking gorge with some nasty holes and difficult safety. If the water is low, put in below the confluence of the Bull Branch and Goose Eye Brook.
The Bull Branch has beautiful, clean pool-drop class IV rapids with a few rowdier and less-clean rapids mixed in. There are great ledge boofs and boulder garden rapids. The hardest regularly run drop (V-) is a narrow nearly vertical 8' drop with an undercut on the right and a large swirling eddy on the right that is VERY DIFFICULT TO GET A SWIMMER OUT OF, which is especially dangerous when the water is frigid in the early Spring.
The class V drops (one in the middle of the run and the others on either side of the island at takeout) tend to be manky and pitony. All have been run, I believe first by Chris Hull and Anna Staehli (sp?), even the monstrous slide above the put-in on Goose Eye Brook.
There is no good gauge in the area, but I've been told that the Wild in Gilead is a rough correlation. Look for a reading of 4' (~650 CFS) for the Bull Branch to be running.