Planning a Trip

It is your responsibility to be fully prepared before embarking on a river trip.

Proper planning and preparation is the first principle of Leave No Trace. Ask yourself the following questions before getting on the river:

  • Where are you entering and exiting the river?

  • Do you know how long it will take to reach your take-out location?

  • How will you return to your vehicle?

  • Does everyone have a life jacket?

  • Are you familiar with local laws and regulations regarding boating and fishing?

  • Have you checked current weather and river conditions?

  • Do you have supplies to pack out or bury human waste?


The Saco River ecosystem is diverse and beautiful, but also fragile. Visitors can easily cause erosion, trample vegetation, displace wildlife, and pollute waters. While enjoying the Saco River, please follow these seven LEAVE NO TRACE principles:


Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you are visiting. Prepare for extreme weather and emergencies. Schedule trips to avoid times of high use and visit in small groups. Use plastic containers for beverages - glass is banned on the river.


Travel on the water and put ashore only at durable sites. The area along the banks of the river (the riparian zone) is fragile; it is best to put ashore on non-vegetated beaches, sandbars, or sites below high water line. Good campsites are found, not made, and altering a site is not necessary.


Dumpsters are available at all access points; do not burn or bury trash - pack it in, pack it out - including trash, litter, leftover food and garbage. Latrines are also available at all access points; if facilities are otherwise not available, human waste should be deposited in "catholes" dug 6 to 8 inches deep and at least 200 feet from the water. Carry wash water away from the river, use biodegradable soap, and dispose of in the soil at least 200 feet from shore or other nearby water sources.


Leave natural objects (rocks and plants) as you find them. Avoid introducing or transporting non native species: clean off watercraft , trailers, and any equipment that has come in contact with another body of water away from from the water before launching. Equipment should also be cleaned upon removal.


Fire permits required on the Saco River, and can be obtained at Swan's Falls Campground or Quinn's Jockey Cap Country Store in Fryeburg. Fires are to be built on sandbars and beaches only - they are not allowed in the woods or above the banks under any circumstances. Keep fires small, and burn only locally sourced wood to prevent the spread of unwanted invasive forest pests. It is illegal to transport wood into Maine. Feel free to use anything that is dead, downed, and reasonably small, but do not cut anything living or standing. Fires are to be put out completely will water, not sand, and the cooled ashes should be scattered.


Treat the river bank with care. Do not pick or trample plants or flowers. Respect the wildlife; view from a safe distance and never feed.


When on the river, do not land on posted private property. Respect other visitors and the quality of their experience. Be courteous, keep voices, music, and other noise at a reasonable level, and camp away from other groups when possible. Please clean up after yourself! It is a privilege to be able to camp along the river and we do not wish to have all land owners post their property because of a few bad apples.

Use the menu above to learn more about camping and paddling along the Upper Saco River. If you have any further questions you can contact us at 207-935-3395, email, or message us on Facebook. We hope you have a safe and enjoyable trip!