This photo needs editing.
Difficulty IV
Length 5.25 Miles
Gauge N/A
Flow Range
Reach Info Last Updated 06/06/2011 2:26 am

River Description

The Rapid river is located in a secluded part of Maine close to the NH border. It used to be difficult to get to this river because of limited accessable public roads. Boaters used to paddle several miles across the open waters of lake Umbagog out of Errol NH then carry upstream to the put in. Others hired a seaplane bush pilot out of Errol to fly them into Pond in the River then pick them up several hours latter in Lake Umbagog. There is a private dirt road on the north side of the river but this is gated and inaccessable to all but a few camp owners and one rafting company. In the late 80's a group of Maine Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) members found put in and take out spots through a maze of logging roads on the south side of the river. These logging roads have improved over the years and are now suitable for any vehicle to make it to the put in. The take out is still a little rougher towards the end and it is still recommended to take a high clearance vehicle there.

From the put in boaters must paddle 1-1/2 miles across the lake hugging the left shore to the remains of Lower Dam. Lower dam looks like an old delapitated covered bridge with the ends removed. This is the start of the river portion of the trip.
"The river itself is worth the trip. Clean, great scenery, some nice relatively easy and safe III-IV with maybe one of the best playspots in New England. The river ends in Lake Umbagog. It is then necessary to paddle 3/4 of a mile to a well hidden take out trail in a cove on the left side of the lake. Look for streamers in the trees and a few small paddle boats lying up on the shore. It is best to have someone familiar with the take out location with you. After all this is finished, you can then get in your second car and spend the rest of the day trying to figure out how the heck to get back to your first one. Most people who run the Rapid will tell you it's worth the trip. If you are lucky while you're there you might be able to run the Magalloway, which is also nearby.

Some people disagree with the "easy and safe" designation, because the river is very shallow in places. I'd hate to have to call in an ambulance after a flip on one of the many "long, powerful, and shallow" pitches on this run. In an emergency a couple years back a power boat was "borrowed" from the Cedar Stump campground just downstream from the end of the river as it enters Lake Umbagog. From here it is a 30 minute power boat ride to Errol then another 45 minutes to the nearest hospital in Berlin NH.

Access Issues

Access to the Rapid is via private land and private logging roads. The land is mostly owned by local paper mills and a few individual land owners. There have been grumblings from the land owners about traffic, camping, and ATV's. Please try to car pool as much as possible, pull vehicles well off the road. Logging trucks have the right of way so yield to them and give them a wave. Stick to a reasonable speed on all roads especially around sharp corners. Slow down to a crawl when you approach a logging operation in progress to avoid "dusting" the workers. Please do not camp in the area especially if it is posted. There are several campgrounds in the Errol area. Carry out all trash. The land owners I've talked to seam to be more upset by ATV use than boaters so please keep a good boaters image. There is one access point to the logging road network from Upton that already has a gate that can easily be closed and locked. Let's hope this does not happen.

Technical info

Put in elevation........1398'
Take out elevation......1243'
Total drop..............155'
Average drop/mile.......68'(river portion only) 
Distance................2.25 miles (river),   2.3 miles lake 
1st mile drop...........35'
2nd mile drop...........80'
2.25 mile drop..........20ÂÂÂ80 '  average
River width average.....50'
River geology...........medium granite boulders and some ledge 
River water quality.....Good, clarity good.
Scenery.................Excellent, a few camps on river right.  
Wildlife................Deer, moose, loons, eagles. 

Rapid Descriptions

Map Key

Class - Mile - 0
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
Directions to shuttle road start in Upton Maine.
1 Begin at Errol, NH, take RT-26 and go Southeast for approximately 10.1 miles passing Upton Maine on the way.
2. Take a left on East B Hill road at point "Z" 44.6874962 north, -71.0010071 west. Approximately 2 miles to point "A" 44.6845818 North, -70.9620514 West

Directions to put in from point "A", road conditions good

A. Start here 44.6845818 North, -70.9620514 West
B. Left at fork,2.1 miles from point A, 44.7043610 North, -70.9580078 West
C. Left at fork .5 miles from point B, 2.6 miles from point A, 44.7084351 North, -70.9522705 West
D. Right after bridge, small sandpit on the right, .6 miles from point C, 3.2 miles from point A, 44.7156830 North, -70.9458923 West
E. Road intersects from right, stay left, 2.4 miles from point D, 5.6 miles from point A, 44.7325172 North, -70.9113846 West
F. Road intersects from right, stay left, 1.4 miles from point E, 7.0 miles from point A, 44.7492065 North, -70.9215622 West
G. Put in: look for a small pull off on the left and ribbon flags on the right. .4 miles from point F, 7.4 miles from Point A, 44.7541084 North, -70.9290314 West There is another access point about .1 miles farther, look for a small clearing on the left.

Directions to take out from put in, road conditions good to fair

H. Continue on road from point G 2.6 miles to point H, then take a right, 44.7585678 North, -70.9638290 West
I. Take a left, .3 miles from point H, 2.9 miles from point G, 44.7585678 North, -70.9710846 West
J. Right 1.1 miles from point I, 4.0 miles from point G, 44.7503891 North, -70.9830322 West
K. Pass several minor logging roads on your left, then stop as the road heads down hill about 3.8 miles from point I, 7.8 miles from point G, look for streamers on the left signifying the trail to the take out. 44.7843132 North, -70.9979095 West

Directions out (point “D”) from the take out.

J. Return to point J and take a right, 44.7503891 North, -70.9830322 West
L. Stay left, .6 miles from point J, 44.7399406 North, -70.9860458 West
M. Take a right 1.8 miles from point J, 44.7314568 North, -70.9749527 West
N. Take a left 1.5 miles from point M, 44.7172165 North, -70.9570389 West
D. Take a right at point D .6 miles from point N, 44.7156830 North, -70.9458923 West

Rapid River shuttle map

Class - Mile - 0

Lower dam

Class - II+ Mile - 1.5

After a 1-1/2 mile flat water paddle from the put-in the first drop is welcome. From the put-in follow the left shore of Pond in the River.  Where the lake constricts you will notice a small rapid at the top of the river.  This was the location of Lower Dam which was torn down and removed in 2004.   Small rapids with several surfing possibillities continue for 1/4 mile up to and past three small cottages on river right. The first cottage has a nice surfing wave near the top of the drop. Shortly downstream a second cottage is where Louise Dickinson Rich wrote a best selling book "We Took to the Woods". Aldro French currently owns the property and is happy to show visitors around. There is a good surfing wave in front of this building especially at the lower 1300 cfs releases. 1/4 mile downstream you will view the "Sugar Shack" the third and last cottage on river right. There is a nice surfing wave here at the remains of another dam. Shortly downstream from the "Sugar Shack" the river widens and goes over a rather shallow rocky rapid as it swings to the right. There is a small sand beach on the right just below this rapid. This is a good rest and boat draining spot before attempting the Three Pitches just downstream from here.

First Pitch

Class - IV Mile - 2.75
Fairly long rapid with heavy turbulance. Stay left of center for the big water and thread your way through and around the many holes. There is a sneak route on far river right away from the big water. This route is a bit more technical however.

Second Pitch

Class - IV Mile - 2.9
A short pool seperates First and Second Pitch. Second Pitch is a little shorter but a little more intense than First Pitch. The best line is left of center once again through heavy turbulance. There are more holes in this section that need to be avoided. And again there is a technical sneak route on river right.

Third Pitch

Class - IV Mile - 3
A little easier than Second Pitch but a lot longer. Same line just left of center avoiding a large hole/pour over near the bottom just to the right of river center. There are a few big wave surfing opportunities accessed from some micro eddies on river left. Once again there is a technical sneak route on river right. This Third Pitch sneak route is more difficult than the two previous ones. Make sure you pull well right of the pour over near the bottom of the rapid. There is a short pool below Third Pitch that leads right up to Smooth Ledge.

Smooth Ledge

Class - III Mile - 3.2
One of the best play spots in New England. Great place to hang out, have lunch, and play the wide friendly hole. Open ledges on river right allow good viewing and sunning. There is a direct hiking trail to Smooth Ledge coming in on river left (See map). Keep access to the Rapid open by avoiding camping at the trailhead. Landowners are threatening to close the main gate to all access roads on the Rapid if problems continue.


Class - IV Mile - 3.4
Shortly after Smooth Ledge is the toughest rapid on the Rapid. S-Turn is loaded with holes, and pinning rocks. The waves and turbulance is not as great as the Pitches but the mixture of waves, holes, pinning rocks, turbulance is what makes this rapid so difficult. Be careful if you try and sneak along the banks, the arrangement of the rocks along the shore tend to funnel a sneaker towards low branches along the river bank. Watch out for a fairly large hole on river right about 100 yards down from the start of the rapid. The rapid then takes a sharp left turn and drops into a nice wave train.

Devils Hopyard

Class - III+ Mile - 3.8
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
A long fun rapid with lots of oppertunity surfing and sidesurfing. Look out for the few large holes scattered throughout. The rapid ends abruptly at Lake Umbagog, Cedar Stump campground is located on the right at the end of the river. Call Saco Bound Northern Waters for camping and access information. The takeout is located in a cove in the lake about a 1/3 mile past the last rapid on the left. As of July 2002 there were no streamers in the trees to locate the takeout. Look for row boats stashed a short way up the hill from the shoreline.


default user thumbnail
Noah Pollock
1 year ago

I'm pretty sure access from Rt 26 is getting increasing restricted. Any beta?

No Gage

Gage Descriptions

Call 1-800-557-3569 for the latest release information. The rivers flow is controlled from Middle dam at the lower end of Lake Richardson. Releases of 1300 and 1800 cfs are scheduled for the warm dry weekends in Summer. Usually the last two weekends of July and the first two weekends in August.


2011 Rapid releases *Updated 6/5/11*

Fri, July 15thAll day1300 cfsSat, Aug 6thAll day1300 cfs
Sat, July 16thAll day1300 cfsSun, Aug 7thUntil Noon*1300 cfs
Sun, July 17thUntil Noon*1800 cfsFri, Aug 12thAll day1300 cfs
Sat, July 23rdAll day1300 cfsSat, Aug 13thAll day1300 cfs
Sun, July 24thUntil Noon*1800 cfsSun, Aug 14thUntil Noon*1800 cfs
Rapid Flow information
Low: 1000 cfsMedium: 1400 cfsHigh: 2300 cfs
Phone Line: (800) 557-3569 Dial A or 2 for Androscoggin then dial 4 for Middle dam

*Although the dam stops releasing at noon, dropping river levels usually are not noticeable at Smooth Ledge until 3 pm. Flows start at 6:00pm before 1st scheduled day and end at 12 noon on last scheduled day. Actual flows subject to modification due to lake levels.

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

Bellows Falls (VT) Flow Study Reveals Hidden Whitewater

Robert Nasdor

A hardy group of northeast boaters climbed into the natural river channel below a hydropower dam to participate in a flow study designed to assess whether whitewater flows should be restored to this dewatered river reach on the Connecticut River. While significant obstacles remain, this site has the potential for providing instruction, playboating, and a big water feature that that could be run throughout much of the year and provide a much needed boost to the local economy. 

article main photo


Nick Lipowski


Mark Lacroix


Skip Morris


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1190675 02/23/07 Mark Lacroix n/a
1196439 11/06/09 Skip Morris
1195112 05/28/09 Skip Morris
1196438 11/06/09 Skip Morris
1200241 06/06/11 Mark Lacroix Change release dates