The Classic East Coast Trip
Kennebec River, Maine
The Kennebec River, which funnels through the tall granite walls of Kennebec Gorge, is that just-right river trip: not too hard, not too bland, with rugged scenery and big, fun rolling wave trains that will get your adrenaline pumping without real consequences. Unlike the more technical rivers out West, no experience is required to paddle the Kennebec. Plus, the water is warm as early as June. Best done as a day trip, the Kennebec’s first four miles run like a roller-coaster of Class III and IV rapids, then mellow out for swimming and taking in the New England scenery. Some outfitters, like Northern Outdoors, bring inflatable kayaks so guests can try manning their own boats on the easier section.
WHEN TO GO: The Kennebec has an unusually long season—April to October—and it runs at optimal flow the entire time, thanks to consistent water releases from Harris Station dam. Thrill seekers wait until summer, though, for the “turbine test releases,” which generate extra-large rapids. The second-best time to hit it up is fall, when the New England foliage peaks. —Jayme MoyeBack to top