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Pleasant River, Downeast Maine, 3 days solo

Discussion in 'Places to Paddle' started by robin, May 19, 2011.

  1. robin

    robin LOVES Wooden Canoes

    I spent 3 days traveling from the headwaters at Pleasant River Lake to take out at Saco Falls on the Pleasant River last week, here's a few pictures and a brief story.

    The river runs from the lake at rt 9 in eastern coastal Maine and dumps into the ocean 35 miles later. My trip length was 27 miles as the crow flies, but I would guess with all the switchbacks I paddled 40 plus miles in 3 days.
    I wore hip boots and waded, lined and paddled my way to deeper water. I had recently read the Cornovers book "Beyond the Paddle" and wanted to try my hand at lining. I have a lot to learn, but it was fun and opens up a whole new way of tripping with a wood canvas canoe for me.
    I also brought a 12 ft pole and managed to snub my way down sections of quick water, the bottom was mostly sandy so this worked well for me. The upper sections of the river where mixed mature hardwoods and pine/cedar, it's a very clean and pretty river. In the whole trip I remember seeing 4-5 cabins and 2 where paddle in only. Never a piece of trash and they enforce a strict buffer zone on logging. (I have no issues with logging at all, but the state has done a good job protecting the rivers beauty.

    Two other things the river has are trees across the river (strainers) and beaver dams. On more than one occasion I rounded a corner in quick water, only to see a fallen tree across the river and no route thru. The water was always shallow, so I easily pulled to the side and figured my way around, over or thru. There was no sign of anyone going thru these strainers before me and some where very old. I assume this river is seldom paddled.
    The beaver dams where easier, some I would get a running start and float over, some I would get stuck on and have to get out. Then out came the fishing rod, and it was easy to catch 4-5 brook trout...
    My first small brook trout

    I found a nice campsite the first night and cooked my dinner over my new "twig stove", it burns twigs and is great at boiling water fast, but it's tough to regulate and a constant effort to keep a fire going. Not sure if I will continue to use it, but the weight savings over a stove and fuel is alot.

    Here's the river just upstream of my first campsite.

    The second morning I entered a section of the river where I had to line and portage. The section behind this picture was only the beginning,

    after this I had to carry the better part of a 1/2 mile through forest. No portages marked and no trail to follow. foot placement was always on my mind as I humped that 16 ft Chestnut Pal over fallen logs and rocks.

    The second night I found a nice campsite and set my tent up shortly before an all night heavy downpour.

    Out front of campsite #2

    As luck would have it, the rain stopped at daybreak and I was off for another day on the river.

    From here to the take out the river still had a nice current, but it meandered back and forth through alder covered banks. The wildlife and fishing where both first class, beavers, otters, ducks, moose tracks but no sightings, bear tracks in the mud around the beaver lodges, an eagle, ospreys and some good sized Maine deer.

    All in all a great little river in a wood canvas canoe, the best of both worlds....
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2013
  2. Denis M. Kallery

    Denis M. Kallery Passed Away July 3, 2012 In Memoriam

    What a nice presentation. Thank-you for sharing, it looks like you had a wonderful few days.
  3. shelldrake

    shelldrake LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Thanks Robin........enjoyed that.

  4. Chuck Hoffhine

    Chuck Hoffhine Wooden Canoe Nut

    Neat trip. How were the black flies?

  5. OP

    robin LOVES Wooden Canoes


    Blackflies, what blackflies?

    Well, Just the first afternoon around camp, then it got too wet and cool for them the rest of the trip. Not sure what I would have wanted, sunny and warm with BF's or cool and rain and no flies.:confused::confused:

    BTW: if you look close, you can see a few trapped inside my headnet, just like inside the tent, they loose interest in biting and hang loose till then can escape when trapped.
  6. woodcanoenut

    woodcanoenut 1914 Old Town Charles River

    Beautiful Trip

    thanks for sharing and the pics as well! What a great adventure you had!
  7. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    Looks like a great trip!

    How did you come to chose/know about the Pleasant River for canoeing? Is there a reasonable way over/around Saco Falls to continue downriver to the bay?

    Can it normally be paddled this time of year, or was it passable only because most streams seem to have been a bit high this year?

    I was expecting to read about a trip down the Pleasant River that joins the Piscataquis River at Milo, flowing down from three branches above Brownville Junction and Brownville. I didn’t know there was another Pleasant River.
  8. OP

    robin LOVES Wooden Canoes

    I had heard a little about the river over the years and picked up the AMC 'Maine" book and it had a very brief discription, just enough to give me the nerve to try it with the wood canvas.
    I'm not sure if there is a road down along the falls or even a path, it was pouring and I had had enough, my daughter showed up and we higtailed it back to a dry/warm house.
    One thing though, the approach to the falls is pretty hairy, I scouted and ran the two class 2 rapids but declined to run the last class 3, which demands a quick take out at the pool below it or you chance getting sucked into the falls. I chose to bushwack my gear up a hill to a road before that class 3, which was a tough uphill climb in some serious undergrowth.

    I'm not sure how long the season lasts on this river, if you where willing to wade some in the up stream areas, and climb over endless beaverdams, it seems like it should be good well into June. The native brook trout fishing is outstanding the entire lenght.

    BTW Greg, my step Grandmother also had Bklyn/Dover Foxcroft roots, Trudie (Goodman) Lamberson, Clinton Ave, Bklyn and DF.
    Last edited: May 25, 2011
  9. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast


    Connecticut (Norwalk) is also part of my background (high school and college) more than 40 years ago . . . .

    I'm going to have to get out my AMC book. We're always looking for interesting places to canoe not too far from D-F -- but while some wading and the occasional beaver dam are fine

    sm 100_6459.jpg sm 100_6458.jpg sm 100_6450.jpg

    I'm not so sure about "endless" beaver dams . . . .

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