Accessible by boat only from Middle Dam on Richardson Lake or via Umbagog Lake from Cedar Stump.
There are excellent opportunities to view wildlife in this area. History is also abundant in this area. Local shops have many books to supplement your trip. There is no cell phone service in this REMOTE area. Please be prepared and use caution in the wilderness of the Rapid River
Over a hundred years ago when construction began on Lower Dam, the Rapid River was nearly unknown to man. Tucked away in dark forests miles from even primitive land travel routes, very few men made it to the banks of the river to appreciate the piece of beauty that we know today. The advent of log driving on the Rangeley Lakes chain brought logging camps and eventually sporting camps to the Rapid River lands. Among them include the setting of Louise Dickenson Rich’s books, including “We Took to the Woods”. Mrs. Rich’s books capture the historical use of the lands, as well as the rural-life experiences of her family, neighbors and visitors.
RLHT acquired approximately 320 acres at Upper and Middle Dams and along the Rapid River in June 2004 as part of a Settlement Agreement with Union Water Power Co. and FPL Energy during the licensing of Upper and Middle Dams. Protective convenants were placed on the lands to ensure traditional access for recreational and sporting activities.
The Rapid River itself is located between Lower Richardson and Umbagog Lakes and are part of the Androscoggin River drainage basin. The Rapid River, which contains approximately 3 ½ miles of nearly continuous Class III-IV rapids, is one of the most spectacular whitewater rivers in Maine. Containing a variety of individual rapids that are regionally and nationally recognized by whitewater enthusiasts, the most impressive of these are Cluley’s Rip, Elephant Rock, and Cold Spring Rapids, all downstream of Long Pool. These “rips” are approximately 250 yards long each with 50 yards of fast moving water separating them. Other rapids include Smooth Ledge, Island Rip and the Devil’s Hopyard. Smooth Ledge is a widely popular boater’s “playground”, where hundreds of boats congregate during scheduled whitewater releases. The river flows in a northwesterly direction and drops approximately 155 feet in 3 miles. There are no falls or steep drops in the river, which is unusual for a river of this gradient.
Apart from the Rapid River itself, the area is located in an exceptionally scenic area, but sparsely populated and with limited road access. Visitors to this area need to be prepared to hike 2-5 miles beyond a gate to access the River along the north shores. The infamous “Carry Trail” is the historic primary foot travel route that serves access from Middle Dam to Umbagog Lake. Several foot trails divert from the Carry Trail, leading to legendary river access for fishing, paddling, picnicking and more.
Camping is allowed at Cedar Stump campsites. Reservations can be made by calling North Waters Canoe and Kayak at: (603) 482-3817. Camping and campfires are prohibited elsewhere along the shores of both the Rapid River and Pond in the River.