Kennebec River Ferry Service

 

The Kennebec River is the most formidable un-bridged crossing along the entire 2,185-mile Appalachian Trail.

The Kennebec is approximately 400 feet wide with a swift, powerful current under the best of circumstances.  However, as a result of releases of water from hydroelectric facilities on the river, the depth and current of the river surge quickly and unpredictably.  You cannot cross faster than the water level rises.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has contracted with
Greg Caruso of Maine Guide Service, LLC to provide the 2016 ferry service for AT hikers.
He may be contacted at (207) 858-3627 or gcaruso@myfairpoint.net .

 

The revised schedule for 2016 is a follows:

 

May 27 – July 8   9 a.m. – 11 a.m.
July 9 – September 30   9 a.m. –   2 p.m.
October 1 – October 10   9 a.m. – 11 a.m.

 


DO NOT ATTEMPT
TO FORD THE RIVER

 

 

  • This ferry service — not fording — is the officially sanctioned means of crossing the Kennebec River on the Appalachian Trail. The A.T. was located here originally because of the existence of a ferry to provide access to Pierce Pond for visiting sportsmen.
  • Hikers must meet the ferry on either the east or west banks of the Kennebec River at the point of the AT crossing. If the ferry is on the opposite side, making yourself visible to the ferry operator will assure a timely crossing.
  • Hikers will be required to sign a release form, wear a life jacket, and follow the instructions of the ferry operator. If river conditions or weather make the crossing dangerous in the judgment of the ferry operator, the service will be discontinued until conditions improve.
  • Large groups – please call ahead to indicate when you will need the ferry service. No camping and no fires are permitted within the Trail corridor on either side of the Kennebec River. Camping and fires are permitted only at designated campsites.
  • This service is provided only for users of the Appalachian Trail and is not available to the general public.
  • For service outside of the regular season (see the above dates) there is a $50 fee per crossing (one or two hikers). Please plan ahead and call or e-mail well in advance.  Absolutely no service will be available between November 1st and April 30th.

2016 Kennebec River Ferry Report

Greg Caruso, Maine Guide Service, LLC

I am happy to report that the 2016 Ferry season has come to a close without injury or incident of any kind related to the AT Kennebec River Ferry Service.  Again, we had a record number of hikers this year.  The final numbers for the season break down as follows:

  • Southbound through hikers: 420
  • Northbound through hikers: 1,194
  • Flip Flop through hikers, heading south when they crossed the river: 150
  • Flip Flop through hikers, heading north when they crossed the river: 113
  • Southbound section hikers: 356
  • Northbound section hikers: 405
  • Day use hikers: 2
  • Total hikers using the Ferry Service during the 2016 season: 2,640
  • We also took 33 dogs across the river this season.
  • Confirmed Forders/Swimmers: 10

As in seasons past, a small minority of hikers chose to ford the river this year. I confirmed 10 forders, but suspect from my conversations with hikers, there were several more.  This number is much lower than last year’s tally, in my opinion, due to the change in the Ferry hours to a contiguous 5 hour schedule during peak season. It seems that the 9am start is early enough for those coming from a short distance, and the 2pm end time is late enough for most to come from a reasonably longer distance.

I have heard a few scary stories from hikers and others about people who have attempted to ford after the Ferry hours in the afternoon. The hydro dam and natural stream flows can fluctuate dramatically at any time due to many conditions. The water flow from the hydro dam, 17 miles upriver, guarantees that the water will rise 2 feet or more after 2pm daily at the crossing site.  This is directly due to federal licensing agreements with the local rafting companies and makes an already dangerous crossing even more dangerous. Thankfully, the vast majority of hikers educate themselves and plan ahead to ensure they are arriving during the scheduled, ferry service hours.

I am very fortunate to have had the assistance of some very skilled, experienced help at the ferry crossing to cover for me as needed. The combined efforts of Registered Maine Guides Craig Dickstein, Rob Starbird, Mike McConnell, Dan Davis, Chad Robertson, Dave Corrigan, Mike Pilsbury and John Philbrick made my first season managing the ferry crossing, a pleasurable and worry free experience. I must also thank my wife, Elizabeth, and my two minions, Jeremy (12) and Christopher(10), for their help with the waivers at the crossing and behind-the-scenes support.

I am very proud to be part of a long tradition of safety and service at the AT Kennebec River Ferry Service. As my first season comes to a close, I can reflect back on the remarkable diversity and unique personalities that make the hiker community an amazing group to be part of. I truly appreciate their enthusiasm for hiking, their friendly faces and their kind ways toward my family and me. I’d especially like to thank the ATC and MATC for this unique opportunity and look forward to working with them again in the future.

 

 

DonateNow

Donations to help defray the cost of providing the Ferry Service are welcome.

Click the Donate Now Link or
Send your donation to the MATC, P.O. Box 283, Augusta, ME 04332.