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Difficulty I-IV
Length 22.3 Miles
Gauge Seboeis River near Shin Pond, Maine
Flow Range 5.00 - 10.00 FT
Flow Rate as of: 19 minutes ago 6.05 [FT] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 07/24/2004 3:42 am

River Description


Photo from the Northeast Paddlers' Message Board's JS Canoe, who provided the following description:

Since we traveled exclusively by canoe I can't say much about putins and takeouts. We ended up getting a ride from a Maine Guide from Oxbow Junction to Grand Lake Seboeis because part of our route had dried up and hadn't been used in years.

At Grand Lake we headed down shore left. There is an outcropping into the lake which shows on the map with a campsite there. Bear left of that. On shore right is a channel to Snowshoe Lake. It isn't very hard to find as this part of the lake dead-ends. This was a rocky little thing but we were experiencing rapidly declining waters in June. It is about a mile to Snowshoe through this. I think we were getting into week three of the journey. At Snowshoe you want to proceed along the east coast to the mouth of the Seboeis River. Of course we missed it and ended up across the lake. If you see a boat ramp and/or come to a house on a small peninsula then you have gone too far. This is also a rock garden in there. In higher water I don't think one would have the problems we did. There are massive boulders and deep pools as well. This will lead you down to White Horse Lake, a very shallow affair and not tremendously large but very desolate. At it's southern end the river continues through a deadwater section. According to the guide it's called Seboeis Deadwater and it really is. The channel deepens some for the next few miles and we came to a camp of some kind on river right. Some kind of outdoor camp but the name escapes me now. We ran into a couple of fisherman, actually, scared the hell out of them as we silently came around the bend. We talked to them for a while and they told us the river was a boat eater. One guy had lost his boat a few years back at Godfrey Pitch. We were also warned about Tiger Rips, which the guide says, "there is a blind left turn and a drop over a ledge, which is best lined down."

Godfrey Pitch at low water. Photo from JS Canoe.
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Well, we got to Tiger Rips and it must have been the low water but we ran it just fine. Actually at the point the gorge was beginning to form. The rock walls were showing and the river was dropping visibly. At one point it was like looking down a staircase. We put away our paddles and broke out our poles and began snubbing down the river. We also donned our PFD's not because of the water but because of the nature of the rocks. Very sharp, a razor kind of rock that jutted out at angles. If I was a geologist I could give you a clear, concise name for them. My thought was if I happened to catch my pole in a rock and I got tipped over my PFD would save my ribs from getting broken or my skin from getting lacerated. It was nasty stuff. Snubbing down we followed the channel which switched back and forth like crazy. It was a task getting 2 fully loaded 16' recreational canoes down this maze. We could clearly see how high the water got in spring flood. Trees were laid way above our heads on large rock croppings.

As we got deeper into the gorge the walls rose anywhere from 30-50' in height and the river became much narrower. It was quite beautiful but one had to be attentive to the river. I could see very few places where eddies would be available in high water but you never know how a river in high water is going to act now, do you? We came to what we thought was Godfrey Pitch, which the guide says, "can be neither run nor lined down. CAUTION: This is very dangerous. Take out and carry on river right which is a very difficult spot." It was here that we called it a day. The pitch we camped at was not runnable for us; perhaps at high water

One more photo from JS Canoe. Keep your weight low!
464.jpg


Next day we lined our empty boats down the pitch and continued snubbing our way downstream. We had to get out often and drag our boats through areas. You could always tell who was in the lead by the curly cues of Royalex or Crosslink 3 from the boats, often 5 inches or more in length. Despite the low levels the current was still rather swift and we had to be careful with footing in the razor rock. The gorge was still rather deep and the river narrow through this section as we made our way. By narrow I mean something in the order 50 to 100' give or take. After a couple of hours we came to an impressive drop/pitch. This was Godfrey Pitch and it must have been over 5 feet in height. I can't imagine this in high water. The hydraulic at the bottom must be intense!! The portage on river right was just like the guidebook said, a bear to do. Over huge boulders slicker than snot and there wasn't much of place to put your canoe on the other side without it getting swept away in the current there. We took turns passing gear and dragging boats over. There were drag marks of other boats passing through. A blue one as I recall. Total length of the portage, maybe 100 feet. After this the gorge started ending and the river widened out some. The guide calls for class II through this section but in low water all we did was use our poles to grunt our way through the shallow rapids, again dragging our canoe bottoms on the bottom. The country is heavily wooded and mountainous but the gorge is behind at this point in time.

As you approach the confluence of the Penobscot and Seboeis the landscape changes to a more open area with large red maples and other water loving trees on the branches. We did pass under a bridge but I couldn't quote you mileage on that one.

The length of the gorge I would estimate at around 7 miles or so, hard to tell when you're crisscrossing in the channels and rocks. The guide states that the distance from Godfrey Pitch to the confluence is around 17 miles.

Please note that we did this river in very low water conditions. The drop in the river within the gorge is perceptive to the naked eye and very impressive. I can't quote you numbers but imagine yourself looking down a shallow staircase. In my opinion, in high water this would be a good river for a very experienced group but at certain points eddies would be few and far between. Add in the type of rock that makes the river bottom and you have a very dangerous situation. Once in the gorge you are committed and from our topo maps there are no roads within an easy hiking distance.

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1190689 07/24/04 n/a n/a