It is currently possible for a paddler to experience attractive day trips or half-day trips on much of the Androscoggin River. Many sections offer suitable launch facilities and water conditions for drift boats or small motorboats. Portions of the river offer excellent fishing, with cold water species (trout) being prevalent in the northerly portions of the river and warm water species, most notably bass, being abundant in the southerly portions.
The sites noted in this report are currently available for public access. Many have very good facilities while others are quite rustic.
The river has been divided into three sections. An index map indicates the sections. The pdf format should allow users to print an entire section or portion thereof. The river does not recognize section or even state boundaries. Section maps feature some overlap to facilitate navigation from one section to the next. The sections are
The North Woods
The Greenway – Riverlands
Each section provides its unique features but all have some mix of undeveloped, remote-feeling shoreline and built up or urban area. The lower portion of the river offers some surprisingly pristine, remote feeling shoreline, while the northerly sections feature several urban paddling experiences in addition to the remoteness expected of the North Woods.
The North Woods: This section is the northerly most one stretching from the Lake Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge to the Shelburne, New Hampshire Gilead, Maine area. The Wildlife Refuge is rich with wildlife viewing opportunities and features Lake Umbagog that provides great paddling; however, there is some competition from motor boats. The river has a remote feel in many areas, but the urban areas of Berlin and Gorham, New Hampshire are also located in this section. These urban areas offer some good paddling opportunities as well as interesting heritage features including the log drive “booms,” and the Northern Forest Heritage Park. Downstream from Gorham, the shoreline turns to an undeveloped shoreline characterized by deep woods and occasional homes and farm fields. Fishing is excellent and ranges from cold water fishery in the main stem of the river to a mix of cold and warm water species in Lake Umbagog. Drift boat fishing is a popular sport over a number of sections with moderately moving water. Motor boat use is limited by current and water depth in most areas.
The Mahoosucs: The Mahoosuc section is named for the mountain range just north of the Presidentials in the White Mountains. The range covers much of The North Woods section, but the mountain features that come closest to the river are located near the New Hampshire – Maine border where the valley is relatively narrow. This section continues the remote feel from Shelburne until the paddler reaches the historic village of Bethel (a portion of the village is a National Historic District). The shoreline downstream of Bethel is characterized by woods mixed with extensive stretches of farmland. There is little development visible from the river and in some areas mountain slopes reach down to a narrow floodplain. The river flows past historic villages in Rumford Point and Rumford Center and reaches a takeout just above the historic paper mill town of Rumford, birthplace of Senator Edmund S. Muskie, the father of the Clean Water Act. A series of falls and dams in Rumford necessitates a significant portage at this time. An overlook provides great viewing of the falls, and Strathglass Park and the downtown island provide a glimpse of the development originally designed to support the Oxford Paper Company. From Mexico through Dixfield and Canton, the shoreline again features dense woods with occasional farms and glimpses of villages. Much of this section offers excellent fishing. A few areas are suitable for motor boats, but drift boat fishing is extremely popular over most of its length.
The Greenway - Riverlands: This section features a true combination of experiences with the dense woods and a few fields continuing downstream from its start to the head of Gulf Island Pond in Turner/Leeds/Greene area. The Center Bridge access site is near the head of the pond, a lakelike body of water held back by a hydroelectric dam more than 13 miles downstream. The Riverlands State Park is located along this stretch and provides a truly remote feeling. There is some motor boat and seaplane traffic on the “pond,” especially on weekends. There are a number of islands for day use. There are also a number of islands that are off limits because of eagle nesting. Downstream of the Gulf Island Pond Dam, the Deer Rips Dam creates another obstacle, but below that there is a short stretch of remarkable river that can be reached from the Androscoggin Land Trust’s Rancourt Preserve on the Lewiston side of the river (river left). The preserve is located adjacent to mixed use urban area, but provides 14 acres of quiet and peaceful woods with walking trails and beautiful views of the Androscoggin and adjacent farmland on the Auburn side. Auburn’s North River Road launch also provides access to this section of river just above the Great Falls that separate the downtown areas of Lewiston and Auburn. The area downstream of Great Falls provides an urban boating experience. Paddlers may want to check out the Lewiston canal outlets on river left. This area is also lined with pedestrian amenities and parks which are joined by a pedestrian trestle across the river. Further downstream development virtually disappears and a wide river with moderately moving current and several sections of white water provides some interesting scenery. The town of Lisbon offers a nice walk on the Paper Mill Trail that starts at their boat launch at the mouth of the Sabattus River. Further downstream, Brunswick also offers a bike-ped trail adjacent to the river prior to the river entering Merrymeeting Bay. Boating or paddling on Merrymeeting Bay offers unique scenery and wonderful wildlife viewing.
Since sites are changing, a limited number of printed maps are available. Public information is being furnished by this web site, including maps and a description of access sites that follows. Maps are also located at kiosks at popular access points. Full color, paper maps may be obtained by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org at a cost of $20 per set.
The Mahoosuc Land Trust has an excellent map of the Androscoggin Canoe Trail. It includes eight access sites from Shelburne, New Hampshire to Rumford, Maine, a beautiful section of river. Maps are available for $7.50. The map may be obtained by calling (207-824-3806), e-mailing email@example.com or writing to the Land Trust at PO Box 981, Bethel, ME 04217 (www.mahoosuc.org).
An older, water-resistant overview map of the trail published by the AMC contains the vast majority of access points, although a few are no longer available to the public. The map contains good descriptions of most sections. The map may be purchased from the Androscoggin River Watershed Council for $7.50 by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.