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East Branch of the Penobscot River: Whetstone Falls to Grindstone

Paddle the scenic and historic East Branch of the Penobscot River from Whetstone Falls to Grindstone Falls.
Trail Activity
Length
12.0 miles, One Way
Difficulty
Advanced
Towns
Grindstone Twp, Soldiertown Twp T2 R7 WELS, T3 R7 WELS
Surface
River/Stream
Pets
Permitted
Fees
No

Description

This 12-mile paddling trail along the East Branch of the Penobscot between Whetstone Falls and Grindstone Falls features long stretches of smooth lazy water with ample opportunity for wildlife viewing.

The put-in below Whetstone Falls is accessed from the parking area just below the logging bridge. A pit toilet and tent site on the opposite side of the road are available here. For those paddlers who are continuing downriver from the Thoreau-Wabanaki Trail, either run Whetstone Falls (Class III) or take the short portage on river left and put back in below the bridge.

Below Whetstone Falls, the East Branch of the Penobscot becomes calm and wide, winding its way 9 miles south to Hay Brook where there is a small public boat launch. In another mile, the East Branch descends over Crowfoot Falls, a short Class II drop. Grindstone Falls begins 2 miles below Crowfoot Falls. 

Just above Grindstone Falls a State Rest Area on ME-11 provides a good take-out location.

To continue downriver on the East Branch of the Penobscot between Grindstone and Medway, either run Grindstone Falls (Class II+) or portage around the falls on the Grindstone Falls Trail.

Other Information

Changes in water level will significantly alter the condition of this paddling trail. Some portions may be unrunnable in low water conditions. Some whitewater experience recommended.

Trail Manager

For more information please contact Katahdin Area Trails or Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.

Katahdin Area Trails
PO Box 669
Millinocket, ME 04462
katahdinareatrails@gmail.com

Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument

Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument
P.O. Box 662
Patten, Maine 04765
Phone: 207-456-6001
lunksoos@gmail.com
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Trail Tips

Plan Ahead and Prepare
Know how to choose and use your gear for each trip, factoring in the terrain and conditions.
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Trailhead Information

To Whetstone Falls put-in: [CAUTION- Private Logging Roads: Stay alert and yield to company vehicles on these narrow roads] From Sherman, travel south on ME-11 for 5 miles to Stacyville. Here the paved ME-11 makes a hard left turn at its junction with the unpaved Swift Brook Road. From ME-11, continue straight through this junction onto Swift Brook Road/Stacyville Road. In just over 4 miles Swiftbrook Road/Stacyville Road comes to an unsigned junction with a road from the left. Do not turn here; continue straight for another mile to a second junction on a downhill turn. Here, the main road curves sharply to the left, while a second road continues slightly right and directly down the hill. Bear left (south) towards Whetstone Falls and the Katahdin Loop Road. In 2 miles turn off to the left into the parking area immediately before the Whetstone Falls Bridge.

To Grindstone Falls take-out: The Grindstone Falls hand-carry boat launch is located at the Grindstone Falls Rest Area on ME-11, 9 miles north of Medway and 16 miles south of Sherman.

To optional Hay Brook put-in/take-out: From Grindstone Falls Rest Area on ME-11, travel 3 miles north and turn left onto an improved dirt logging road with a metal gate and a wide pull-out area. The access to the boat launch is within 30 meters of ME-11, on the left before passing through the logging gate and fully visible from the highway.

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Trail Alerts

Safety
Be a Safe and Respectful Paddler
Paddling conditions will vary according to the weather and season, so always exercise caution and always wear a lifejacket. With good judgment and proper equipment, the risk associated with paddling can be minimized. Respect the natural world and the rights of landowners, and be considerate of other outdoor enthusiasts. Paddlers should seek to avoid causing erosion, trampling vegetation, disturbing wildlife, and harming water quality.
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