Marsh Stream Race Course and Paddling Route

A 5.9-mile race course including a flatwater section to start, followed by a longer and more challenging section with Class III rapids and a mandatory portage around Flat Rock Falls.
Trail Activity
5.90 miles, One Way
Frankfort, Winterport
Water - River/Stream


Marsh Stream is one of the most challenging whitewater rivers raced in the spring whitewater series in Maine, and the difficulty level varies depending on the flow. Although there are sections of flatwater and Class I whitewater in the race course, there are many Class II and III rapids with large waves or drops that make this section of stream suitable for experienced paddlers only. Especially when water temperatures are cold, those paddling the river for the first time should seek to join more experienced paddlers. Even those with experience on the river need to be aware of new blowdowns, which may create strainers at critical places.

The Marsh Stream race is approximately 5.9 miles long, but to paddle from the put-in to the recommended take-out is 6.9 miles. The 1-mile sprint race starts below the Snowmobile Rapid and finishes immediately after Roadside Rapid. 

Description of Route

The first mile of the race is fast moving water interspersed with Class I rapids. This is followed by approximately 2 miles of flat water. Then there is a Class I-II drop that is best run to the right of middle.

Next is Snowmobile Rapid (Class II, at the snowmobile bridge crossing) which is best run to the left, or if you are more adventurous, down the middle (scout first at higher flows above 2 feet on the bridge index, described below). After this there are some stretches of sustained Class II-II+ rapids that go to the area of the railroad bridge. The next rapid of significance is Railroad Drop (Roadside Rapid), a Class II-III rapid, which is usually run on the left shore. It is recommended to scout this rapid from the road prior to paddling.

Pine Island, a Class II-III rapid is the next drop. It should be run to the left of the island, to the left of middle. Pine Island drop can be reached by a short walk from the road and should be scouted. There is another route also to the left of the island and directly alongside it. Between these two routes is a powerful hydraulic that can be very dangerous at higher levels (over 2.5 feet on the index). 

The Class II-II+ rapid after Pine Island can be run right of center or hard left. Take a hard left or right over the two ledges.

Take the small channel on the right of the next island to save some time in the race to a 1/4 mile flatwater stretch before the mandatory portage over Flat Rock Falls, on river left. The last drop, a Class II-III+ rapid, is best run on the hard right next to shore if the water levels are high or middle of the river if the water levels are lower. 

Flow information: There is no USGS river gage on the Marsh. Index marks painted on the railroad bridge abutment are helpful: 1-2 is good for open boating, though below 1.5 it is scratchy. The flow of nearby Kenduskeag Stream can be a good indicator. Generally if the Kenduskeag Gage height is above 6 feet or 1000 cfs, the Marsh has enough water to paddle. The Marsh will rise and drop FASTER than the Kenduskeag. Paddling levels on the two streams are only comparable after rains. If the Ducktrap River Gage is 3 feet +/- 0.5 feet then the Marsh may be good too.

Other Information

The Marsh Stream Race is the fourth race in the spring whitewater river race season in Maine. Helmets are required.

Trail Manager

Information on this paddling route is provided by the Maine Canoe & Kayak Racing Organization (MaCKRO). MaCKRO promotes paddling & racing for paddlers of all ages and abilities throughout Maine and New England. Join MaCKRO to help expand the sport of racing canoes, kayaks, and SUPs.

Maine Canoe & Kayak Racing Organization (MaCKRO)

Maine Canoe & Kayak Racing Organization (MaCKRO)
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Nearby Events


Trail Tips

Respect Wildlife
Avoid unwanted animal guests: store your food and trash securely and keep your camp clean of crumbs and spills.
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Trailhead Information

The parking and launch for this race course and paddling route is at a pull-off on ME-139/Stream Road just west of the intersection with Loggin Road. The race typically starts downstream from here, just above the Loggin Road bridge. 

Race registration is held at the Winterport Riverside Riders clubhouse, on Pine View Drive, which is at the western end of Stream Road in Winterport. The launch for the sprint course is located past the clubhouse, where the road comes close to Marsh Stream.

The race ends just below the last drop. Paddlers can take out here on river left, but the easier take-out is farther downstream, on Mill Lane in Frankfort. Please respect the owner who generously allows use of this site by the public. 

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Trail Alerts

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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