Presumpscot River Paddling Trail

The Presumpcot River flows 25 miles between Sebago Lake and Casco Bay, dropping 270 feet in elevation. The Presumpscot enjoys long and rich natural and cultural histories best experienced at water level: paddle a short section for a day trip, or paddle and portage the entire route from origin to coastal estuary.
Trail Activity
Paddling
Length
25.5 miles, One Way
Difficulty
Easy, Moderate, Advanced
Towns
Falmouth, Gorham, Portland, Standish, Westbrook, Windham
Surface
Water - Coastal, Water - River/Stream, Water - Lake/Pond
Pets
Permitted
Fees
No

Description

The name “Presumpscot” was believed to have been shared by a local Abenaki village of the same name and translates as “river of many rough places.” Early colonial settlers referred to the river as being “a foot deep in fish.” With increased industrialization and mill development along its banks, the Presumpscot later came to be described as being “a foot deep in foam.”

Today, the Presumpscot is a river in recovery. The water is cleaner than it was 50 years ago and migratory fish, including alewife and shad, are returning by the tens of thousands. For the nearly 25% of Mainers living in the greater Portland region, the Presumpscot has become a favorite recreational playground for paddling, swimming, fishing, and shoreline hiking and snowshoeing.

Currently, nine dams are located along the Presumpscot creating flat water paddling conditions upstream and swifter water sections downstream. Choose a short section to explore for a day trip, or paddle and portage the entire route from origin to coastal estuary.

Note: In the summer of 2019, the Saccarappa Dam in Westbrook was removed, impacting water levels upstream, possibly as far up as Mallison Falls Dam. Please be aware that the river geomorphology may change here significantly as the river readjusts.  At this time, it may be preferable to paddle the other sections of the Presumpscot River. 

Other Information

More information about the paddling route, including access points, hazards, and historic attractions can be found on the Presumpscot River Paddling Map & Guide, which is available from the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership  (email: cbep@usm.maine.edu). In order to safely experience the Presumpscot River Water Trail, please bring the map with you on your trip. Maine Trail Finder is not intended to be a comprehensive resource along this trail.

Trail Manager

Visit the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership online for a map and more information, or contact the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust:

Presumpscot Regional Land Trust

Presumpscot Regional Land Trust
PO Box 33
Gorham, ME 04038
Phone: (207) 536-8623
info@prlt.org

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Trail Tips

Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
Walk single file in the middle of the trail. Wear the right shoes and enjoy the mud – you're in the great outdoors!
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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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