Difficulty III-IV
Length 6.6 Miles
Gauge N/A
Flow Range
Reach Info Last Updated 04/02/2019 10:44 am

River Description

Overall the Manitou may not be overly difficult. However, it features (as one paddler calls them) "leaky eddies". Often you don't really have eddies but rather simply slower moving water. The Manitou features three portages (at least two of which are rather lengthy) so it may feel like you're carrying your boat as much as paddling it.

This run starts out with a flatwater paddle through an alder swamp. When the river bends left and you see a smoking horizon line, take out river right (before it's too late!) to portage around a long, mean, irregular, painful looking waterfall series.

Slide in below the falls, take some photos, then enjoy maybe a half mile of fun boat-scoutable, boulder-bed rapids. When the river bends left (and you may see a wooden staircase buried in the trees on the right) you'll want to take out river-right. The next drop is Pinball, a class IV+ drop. Scout/portage on river right. Boaters who choose to run Pinball will probably want to catch an eddy and get out immediately after to avoid being funneled into a Class VI canyon below. For those who choose to portage this whole combination, start climbing up and keep going until you hit the Superior Hiking Trail. It is a rather lengthy portage, so the trail-bridge spanning the river will be a welcome sight. You can put in just above the bridge to run Machine Gun Ledges.

After the bridge you've got more boulder-dodging, with the occasional small ledge. The next significant horizon line can be scouted either right or left. A fairly clean 5-10 foot falls can be run easily slightly left-of-center. After some more boulders and boat-scoutable ledges (2-3 feet, mostly) the river takes a sharp right turn with rock walls on each side. Catching a little eddy on the inside of the turn will allow you to scout the next drop, a slightly grungy waterfall, maybe 10-12 feet high. The best line is usually to ride the tongue about five feet off of the river right wall. After that it's more boulders and ledges, with a few smaller horizon lines that you may want to scout to check for snags or to be sure what line looks the best.

Just after the river takes a left, when you see powerlines downstream, take out river left. The next rapid looks runnable and fun, but things don't slow down and there is no reasonable egress from the river before you hit "Rain falling up" falls. This falls is one of the most beautiful, bizarre and impressive waterfalls/gorges you will ever see. As you are shouldering your boat on the hike out take the time to hike down and check out the falls, you won't be disappointed no matter how many times you may check it out. The rainbow over the gorge is a beautiful sight after a great day on the river. Hike a faint trail the rest of the way to Hwy.61.

(Our thanks to Jacob M. Vos (A.K.A., JetManJake) and Mark Mastalski for contributing to this fine description.)

Rapid Descriptions


Class - N/A Mile - 0.244
Rapid Thumbnail Missing


Class - N/A Mile - 0.81
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

A narrower shortcut (to the right) saves going the long way around an oxbow creating a large island. (OK, it's only about 1/8th of a mile more the other way.)


Class - N/A Mile - 1.23
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

A small tributary (unnamed on the various maps I can find) merges from river-left.


Class - VI Mile - 2.21
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Portage (probably river-right). At least class V, maybe VI. (Unaware weather any big guns are running some line on this at some optimal flows.) SHT (Superior Hiking Trail) comes along river-right.


Class - N/A Mile - 2.68
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Most paddlers will want to get out someplace about here to scout and/or begin a portage of a wicked section (over a quarter-mile) of river. While some boaters, at some flows, may run some or all of this stretch, many will be best served hitting SHT (Superior Hiking Trail) to carry down unitl a bridge across the river before putting in again.

SHT Bridge

Class - N/A Mile - 2.97
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Most paddlers will make a long portage of "Pinball", using the SHT (Superior Hiking Trail) to carry down to this bridge before putting in. (The big gun paddlers will run some (or all ?) of the rapids above this point.)

Significant drop?

Class - N/A Mile - 3.09
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

It appears (from aerial views) there is another quite significant drop here.


Class - N/A Mile - 3.5
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

A tight right-hand bend immediately precedes a significant ledge/drop/rapids. You'll probably prefer to scout before running!

Significant drop?

Class - N/A Mile - 4.62
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Significant rapids?

Class - N/A Mile - 5.13
Rapid Thumbnail Missing


Class - N/A Mile - 6.6
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

When you see the powerlines overhead, GET OUT!!! (River-left.) While the rapidsdownstream look sweet, they lead you into a trap! Flow accelerates you down to a pool with nearly vertical walls above "Rain Falling Up Falls".

USGS sampling site

Class - N/A Mile - 7
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

A USGS sampling site at this location lists drainage of 98 square miles (making this the 7th largest of the roughly three dozen sites on the North Shore).


No Gage

Gage Descriptions

Visual inspection from Hwy.61 (a portion of the river not generally boated). If it appears boatable here, the run should be reasonable.
This is a larger river than most on the north shore, thus is boatable a bit later into the spring season.

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

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.



Matt Muir


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1211800 04/02/19 Rob updated image position
1203938 12/19/14 Rob minor edit
1192318 04/19/05 n/a