Maps and Mileage
Know the map.
Where are you beginning and ending your trip? Everyone in your group should know the plan.
Do you have enough time to get from point A to point B? As a general rule, most boating groups travel about 2mph. Tubes and floats take three to four times longer than boats. However, snowmelt and rainfall can affect water levels and river speed, so it is important to check the weather and river conditions before you go. Plan accordingly.
When you get off the river, do you have a ride back to your vehicle? Remember that there is no Uber or reliable taxi service in the area. If you are leaving a vehicle at your destination, make sure you have a parking pass or park in an area that allows overnight parking. If you are using a shuttle, it must be pre-arranged with local liveries.
Plan to be off the river well before dark. Too often, groups are caught on the river later than they expect.
There are mile markers along the Saco River from Swan's Falls to the Brownfield Bridge. Always be aware of where you are in case you need to call for help. This will save precious time and help our first responders get to you in a timely manner. Remember: the quickest way to get help is to get to the closest take out point. Bear in mind that this point may be UPSTREAM of where you are.
Important note about strainers: Strainers are downed trees or other obstructions in the water, and can pose a danger to boaters, even in a slow-moving current. You should always steer clear of these types of obstacles. If you find yourself stuck against a strainer, do not worry about your canoe or boat. A boat can be replaced. You can't be! Get out of the boat and pull yourself on top of the strainer and sit there. It will be easier to find you sitting on top of the strainer than looking for you as you float down the river or stream.
Boats and rafts tied together or towed inflatables do not steer well and are more likely to get caught in strainers. The water flows through the tree and holds a canoe or a person against the tree.
Time estimates are based on average mid-summer conditions. Subject to change.
- Swan's Falls to Canal Bridge ~ 4-5+ hours by float
Day Trips (Boats)
- Swan's Falls to Canal Bridge ~ 1-2 hours paddling
- Swan's Falls to Walker's Bridge ~ 5-6 hours paddling
- Swan's Falls to Walker's Bridge ~ 1 day paddling, easy
- Swan's Falls to Lovewell Pond ~ 1.5 days paddling, easy
- Swan's Falls to Brownfield Bridge ~ 2 days paddling, easy
- Swan's Falls to Hiram ~ Recommended 3 days minimum for this option