Rapid - Pond in the River to Lake Umbagog

Rapid, Maine, US


Pond in the River to Lake Umbagog

Usual Difficulty IV (for normal flows)
Length 5.25 Miles
Avg. Gradient 68 fpm
Max Gradient 80 fpm

Outflow to Pond in the River

Outflow to Pond in the River
Photo of Sharon Lacroix and George May by Mark Lacroix taken 07/15/93 @ 1300 cfs

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..........20’……80 '  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. 

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2011-06-06 02:26:49


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Rapid River shuttle mapPutin Photo
0.0Map KeyPutin Takeout
1.5Lower damII+Photo
2.8First PitchIVPhoto
2.9Second PitchIVPhoto
3.0Third PitchIVPhoto
3.2Smooth LedgeIIIAccess Playspot Photo
3.8Devils HopyardIII+

Rapid Descriptions

Rapid River shuttle map

Rapid River Shuttle Map

Rapid River Shuttle Map
Photo by Mark Lacroix

Map Key
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

Lower dam (Class II+, Mile 1.5)

Lower Dam on the Rapid

Lower Dam on the Rapid
Photo by Mark Lacroix taken 07/21/02 @ 1800 cfs

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 2.8)

First Pitch on the Rapid

First Pitch on the Rapid
Photo by Mark Lacroix taken 07/21/02 @ 1800 cfs

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)

Second Pitch on the Rapid

Second Pitch on the Rapid
Photo by Mark Lacroix taken 07/21/02 @ 1800 cfs

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 3.0)

Third Pitch

Third Pitch
Photo by Mark Lacroix taken 07/21/02 @ 1800 cfs

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)

Smooth Ledge

Smooth Ledge
Photo by Mark Lacroix taken 07/21/02 @ 1800 cfs

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.

S-Turn (Class IV, Mile 3.4)


Photo by Mark Lacroix taken 07/21/02 @ 1800 cfs

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)
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.

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