Date(s) Price(s)
May 9 - 13, 2023 $1,300

East Branch of the Penobscot Canoe Trip

The many falls and gorges are interspersed with majestic views of the mountains in Baxter State Park. There are numerous Class II and III rapids and four portages. It is well worth the effort for the privilege of canoeing the East Branch.

Running through the middle of the newly created Katahdin Woods and Water National Monument, the East Branch of the Penobscot River is unmatched in Maine for its mountainous scenery and beautiful falls (locally called “pitches”). In the first 7 miles, there are more than a half dozen Class I, II, and III rapids (depending on water levels) and four “carries” (portages).

We begin our trip on Grand Lake Matagamon and allow extra time on the river to practice and review our whitewater maneuvers on the first four miles before navigating Stair Falls, the first major rapid. We allow more days on the East Branch than most outfitters, because we want to take the time to ensure our guests have the skills to safely negotiate and enjoy running the rapids. Our takeout is at Whetstone Falls.

Some river experience is helpful, and you should be in good physical shape due to the portaging required. To view a trip itinerary, click here.

Suggested Reading:

For more information about the East Branch country:


  1. All food and gear (including sleeping bags, pads, dry bags).
  2. Transportation to and from Orono.
  3. Two guides.


  1. Transportation to Orono.
  2. Overnight stays in motels or bed and breakfasts in Orono.

For trip itinerary, click here

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Custom trips

Mahoosuc Guide Service can design custom Maine canoe trips for families, youth groups, clubs, or organizations from one to 10 days in length. We can also design trips to retrace any part of Henry David Thoreau’s route, including Webster Brook and East Branch of the Penobscot River. Contact us today to discuss your group’s interests, abilities, goals, and available dates.

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Safety and Basic Information for Canoe Trips

All our Maine canoe trips are fully outfitted and guided by Mahoosuc Guide Service’s owners Polly or Kevin. We provide all the food, camping, paddling, and cooking equipment, as well as a detailed clothing list to help you in packing for your trip. Most of our trips meet in Orono, Maine (just north of Bangor). We provide transportation to and from the river. Many of our canoe trips require no special physical conditioning. If you have any concerns about the physical requirements of a trip, please contact us.

On the Trip:

We are experienced teachers and will help you master the art of canoeing by teaching paddle strokes and poling techniques. You will learn how to set up a warm dry camp, and if you want, how to cook and bake over an open fire. All our food is natural or organic, and we source much of our food locally. Natural history, wildlife viewing, and fishing will be covered as your interests warrant.


You are in safe hands with Mahoosuc Guide Service. With more than 40 years guiding experience from Maine and Quebec to the Yukon Territory and Alaska, we have an excellent safety record. We are certified in Wilderness First Aid and Wilderness First Responders. We carry a satellite phone for emergency communication!

Trip Itinerary

Day 1

Depart Black Bear Inn in Orono 7:30 a.m.

2 ½ hour drive to put in on Grand Lake Matagamon.

Paddle to Birch Point campsite.

Flatwater practice of whitewater strokes and maneuvers


Day 2

Paddle several miles across Matagamon to the outlet of the East Branch

On river – moving-water review of safety, strokes, and maneuvers.

Camp 4½ miles downstream at Oxbow campsite.

Day 3

Travel downriver about 4 miles.

This section has rapids and 3 portages.

In order: 1st rapids Class 2.

  • Stair Falls Class 2-3.
  • Haskell Rock Pitch – portage 1/3 mile.
  • Haskell Rock Pitch Rapids – Class 2+.
  • Lower Rock Pitch Rapids – Class 2.

Pond Pitch – portage 1/4 mile.

Grand Pitch – portage 1/3 mile.

Camp at Grand Pitch – ½ way down portage trail.

Day 4

Finish portage.

Run Class 1-2 rips to

Hulling Machine – ½ mile portage.

Bowlin Falls – Class 2+.

Camp Fiske Bogan.

Approximately 10-12 river miles this day.

Day 5

Paddle approximately 7-8 miles down river (no major rapids).

to Whetstone Falls.

Run Upper & Lower Whetstone Falls Class 2-3.

Take off river midday or early afternoon.

Transport back to Orono – 2 hour, 15 minute drive.