- Distance: 8 Miles (GPS)
- Time: 4-5 Leisurely Hours
- Flow: 180 CFS at USGS Stream Gauge 01057000 South Paris
- Date: May 17, 2020
The put in is the hardest part of the trip – it appears that some slope stabilization work has been done since the 2013 post by Keith Corson on hikeography. The old tote road now ends about 20’ above the river, with a difficult carry down a boulder strewn slope. This part took us about 20 minutes. Once in the water, there are a couple of class 2 rapids in the first mile. At 180 CFS they were not that difficult, with minor splashing over the bow. I only scraped bottom once, but noticed plenty of paint on other rocks.
After one mile, there is a short portage river left around the dam at Bisco Falls. The dam is well marked by a banner over the river and the portage trail, a gravel road with stone steps back down to the river, is also well marked. Getting out requires a slight uphill carry and the put-in is level. Once past the dam, there are no more rapids, only quick water.
At 4.5 miles we encountered the log jam referenced in the 2013 blog post and also had to paddle back upstream. To avoid this, start looking, at around 4.4 miles, for some large trees overhanging the river on the left side. There are two large trees at a 45-degree angle and within a few feet are 3 large conifers, also at a 45 degree angle. When you see these, bear right.
Further downstream, we did one other short portage. There was a large tree in the water on the right, with a strainer to the left of it. The current went both ways and a quick 90 degree turn to the left might get you through. However the penalty for failure would be an immediate swamping. We took out river right just above the dam in South Paris, because a picnic table sitting there made it look public. Four other kayakers took out river left, which looked a little easier, but we could not tell if it was private property.
It was very quiet, despite the river’s proximity to Route 26, with only occasional sounds of gravel excavation. The water was extremely clear. Ducks were plentiful and a lone cormorant soared above us. We took our time and fished a few times, but did not get any bites. The overall trip time, not counting the heinous put-in, was 5 hours.