I need advice from someone familiar with Seboomook Dam on the West Branch Penobscot, and the rapids below it. I’m planning a cruise from Pittston Farm at the west end of Seboomook Lake and down the WB to Chesuncook and beyond. Judging from various guidebooks, the ledges below the dam are probably beyond my skill level with a fully loaded canoe. What I don’t know is how far the rough section extends below the dam. I’m wondering if it is possible to portage the rough stuff and put in below. Is this a crazy idea? I’d appreciate any insight or advice.
2.5 miles along a road
and you can put in at Burbank right off the road. The Roll Dam can be a bit of an obstacle. I have not scouted the ledges.
And the only time I paid attention to Burbank was when th water was so high that Lobster Stream actually was flowing the wrong way and had debris jammed up against th e bridge making access at Lobster put in impossible.
Thats when we noticed four foot waves coming off the Roll Dam at Sebomook.
I think you might get more answers over at Northeast Paddlers Message Board.
Thanks. Will try NE Message Board. I’ll need to double the carry, so 2.5 = 7 miles. That’s a big day of carrying.
s ledges/roll dam
first a disclaimer: this is how I did it thirty years ago with the boyscouts about a half dozen times. Definately register and post on the NWPMP for a more current plan.
Camp your first night at least 1/2 down Seboomook lake. Although this lake gets its share of wind it usually funnels down the lake. Get up at sunrise and out on the water early! It’s not the distance that will get you but the time element. When you approach the dam portage around the left side and follow the trail down the hill just below a rocky rapid at the base of the dam. Paddle a short distance, around a few bends and portage left around a double ledge drop. Paddle a 1/2 mile-3/4 miles and listen for the roar of major rapids. Portage all your gear for one mile down a portage trail on your right. At the end of trails is/was the roll dam campsite where the trail ends and where the road meets the river. Stash your gear in the woods while you hike back up the portage trail. On the way back up the trail scout/view the rapids. Portage your canoes down the first 1/2 of the portage trail. The lower set of ledges are the ones typically done in open canoes that are empty. You should have a basic knowledge of running ledge drops, bracing, and using a throw rope if you attempt this lower section. Do not attempt the first set of ledges, they are more difficult and dangerous. If you are unsure about even trying whitewater you should portage the 2.5 on the road, it should be wheelable. My way the total portaging is probably less than 1.3 miles one way but it is rocky and has roots- no wheels but you can see many of the rapids and if you want to try running them you can. Good luck. PS the blackflies are horrendous at roll dam in May/June.
you’re going to want to post on the north east paddlers message board, not the northwest!My typo!if they disagree with me on distances go with their estimates- I find when I go back and paddle something I did a long time ago that I often underestime the distances I once paddled. At one time you could order from usgs detailed map sized satellite images for your whole trip. Each individual rapid should be visible as a white scribble. If you do decide to run the lower set you put in at a large eddy above and around the corner from the first ledge you will run.
Lots of fun in a whitewater boat. Don’t know that I’d take an unloaded tripping boat over those ledges, let alone loaded.
We put in where Seboomook Dam Road comes close to the river and crosses a stream, roughly one third of the way between the dam and the the Roll dam camp. It looks like there is one ledge/rapid above that. We walked back up to the car from the Roll dam camp area after running it. Took us twenty minutes. It would be easy to get on the road at Seboomook dam and walk down to the Roll dam camp with a cart. I agree with the poster who recomended a hike along the ledges. It’s a very pretty place. Can be buggy though.
water level on Seboomook
I was camping at Canada Falls Lake in Oct. 2011, drove down along Seeboomook from Pittston Farms and the water level in the lake was very very low. Heard they were dropping the lake to work on the dam. Might want to check on the water level prior.