The Dead River boasts one of the longest wilderness whitewater trips to be had in New England. By slightly altering the trip described here, a two-day expedition easily could be arranged for those who may prefer that. The Dead has two distinctly different personalities depending on the water level. At lower flows (800 to 2,400 cfs), the Dead is a fine open-boat or intermediate closed-boat run. At the higher flows (2,400 to 8,000 cfs) frequently released for whitewater rafters and advanced paddlers, the river becomes non-stop big whitewater. Waves reach heights of up to 8 feet and rapids continue without significant breaks for a mile or more.
Magnificent scenery, typical of the Maine backwoods, is a strong plus for this run. Once you start, however, you have little choice except to complete the trip in one way or another, since the river is isolated from any main roads, although a trail running alongside on the right does appear on topo maps. Because of the isolation and the possibility of quickly changing weather, inexperienced paddlers should carefully evaluate the consequences of an accident before deciding to run.
© Bruce Lessels/Appalachian Mountain Club Books. All Rights Reserved.