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Difficulty II-III
Length 3.4 Miles
Gauge N/A
Flow Range
Reach Info Last Updated 07/21/2003 4:16 pm

River Description

The Sturgeon is a rather narrow, almost creek-like river, generally shallow with mostly small rocks. Since this is a smaller river, expect a fair amount of sweepers or stainers, and be aware that most eddies will be fairly small. Its pretty much pool-drop, with relatively short pools in the early going.

While the bulk of the gradient is in the first mile of this run, good current and minor rapids will be found throughout the run, save for about a half-mile around the confluence with the East Branch.

Downstream of the recommended take-out, the topo maps show a little bit of continued gradient, and appear to show the river passing through about a half-mile of fairly steep-walled (about 50' high) 'canyon'. Unfortunately, the gradient quickly dies down, and the next access point is about 3 miles downriver, thus (for whitewater boaters, intent on the best 'play') it is probably not worthwhlie proceding beyond the recommended take-out as listed here.

Rapid Descriptions

Drainage: 121 sq.mi.

Class - N/A Mile - 0
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Drainage area at our listed put-in is approximately 121 sq.mi. (as calculated via USGS StreamStats Beta software).

Initial Sequence

Class - N/A Mile - 0
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The run starts right out with nearly a quarter-mile of rapids (probably class II).

Second Sequence

Class - N/A Mile - 0.5
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About a quarter-mile of flat/flowing water follows the initial sequence, and leads to the second sequence. This appears slightly shorter, and perhaps just a slight touch less significant than the first. (Likely class I-II.)

Third Sequence

Class - N/A Mile - 0.85
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A briefer pool follows the second sequence. As the river takes a very slight bend to the left, the third sequence begins with (it appears) perhaps three ledge/wave/holes. The river does a horse-shoe bend to the right, and intensity builds (just a bit) midway down the next straightaway. Action diminishes as the river twists back to the left, and low-grade rapids (likely class I-II) continue for a total of nearly 0.4 mile of action in this third sequence, petering out (to flat/flowing water) as the river bends tightly left (to the North).

Confluence E.Br.Sturgeon

Class - N/A Mile - 2.64
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After nearly two miles of flat flowing water (with a few loops and meanders), a large island is encountered (keep right!), and (immediately past it) the confluence with the East Branch Sturgeon River. For what it's worth, while the vast majority of that river is either flatwater or very very mild riffles (class I at best), there is one brief stretch of that stream which has very significant gradient. (See the "East Branch Rapids" below for description.)

Final Sequence

Class - N/A Mile - 3.14
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Finallly, the last rapids is encountered. Starting with a very slight disturbance, then a mid-stream wave/hole. Pace slackens a bit, an island is encountered as the river twists tight right and into a fine S-turn rapids before the take-out at Osborn Road/Hwy.65.

East Branch Rapids (Drainage: ~51 sq.mi.)

Class - N/A Mile - 4.65
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

OK, this is a 'bonus' . . . not on the Sturgeon, but on the East Branch Sturgeon. The 'distance' listed here is not distance downstream from the put-in of this (Sturgeon River) section, but the driving distance from the take-out of this run to the turn-off to get to the the start of the short East Branch Rapids section. We have no idea the status of actually getting to the river here. The marker is placed at what appears to be the most straight-forward, obvious route to access the river. It may be possible to get right to the head of the gradient, cutting off 0.3 mile of flatwater.

From the start of the gradient, you'll have a half-mile nearly continuous action, a brief pool (in a left-hairpin turn), then about another tenth-mile of lighter rapids to the bridge at Hwy.73. This makes 2/3rds of a mile with about 40' of drop, for 60FPM equivalent. If it proves possible (accessible) and if it proves interesting (as it appears on aerial views), it may be worth doing laps!


No Gage

Gage Descriptions

Usually only runnable with spring snowmelt or after very heavy local rain.
The USGS gauge lies directly on this stretch of river, but is downstream from the confluence with the East Branch of the Sturgeon, an equally large river. As a result, flows in the better part of this reach will be about half the gauge reading.
The optimum level is reportedly in the 400-500cfs range.
The best 'gauge' will be visual inspection at the first rapid, which is scoutable from the put in.

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
1193878 07/21/03 n/a n/a