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 70 yards wide with a swift, powerful current under the best of circumstances. However, as a result of releases of water from hydro facilities upstream, the depth and current of the river surge quickly and unpredictably. You cannot cross faster than the water level rises
DO NOT ATTEMPT
As always, we will be “on call” time and weather permitting, during early May and late October. Hikers should call well in advance if they want to try to cross the River during these early and late season periods.
- Between May 1 and May 21, and also between October 13 and October 31, service will be available on a “Time and weather permitting” basis. Service is not guaranteed during these dates, and hikers should call in advance to see if service will be available. There will be no service available before or after these dates.
- * There is a good chance that ferry service will not be available before or after the regular season. All early/late season crossings cost $50 per crossing. [One or two hikers per crossing.]
- 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, a signal flag will be provided to alert the ferry operator.
- 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.
Fletcher Mountain Outfitters – Kennebec Ferry Service 2014 Final Report
I am happy to report that the 2014 Ferry season has come to a close without injury or incident of any kind. We had a very good season, with high, perhaps record, hiker numbers.
The final numbers for the season break down as follows:
- Southbound through hikers, 262
- Northbound through hikers, 945
- Flip Flop through hikers, heading south when they crossed the River, 56
- Flip Flop through hikers, heading north when they crossed the River, 10
- Southbound section hikers, 268
- Northbound section hikers, 322
- Day use hikers, 39
- Total hikers using the Ferry Service during the 2014 season, 1,902
We also took 42 dogs across the River this season.
Confirmed Forders/Swimmers, 4
As in seasons past, a small minority of hikers chose to ford the River this year.
I confirmed 4 forders, and suspect there were probably a couple more. This is the lowest total number [and also the lowest percentage of total hikers] to ford the Kennebec since we began keeping records. It looks like our ongoing educational efforts are working. Over the last eight years I have made an effort to educate hikers about the dangers of fording the Kennebec. Through email and phone conversations with hikers, direct contact at the River, and through the help of the Caretakers/Ridgerunners [whom I speak to each year during their training session], the word seems to be getting around that taking the Ferry is the way to go.
As happens every year, a few hikers did try to ford the River, but then decided to take the Ferry after realizing just how dangerous it was. Thankfully, this number too was very low, and there were no serious injuries or fatalities reported. I am very proud of the excellent safety and service record that the Kennebec Ferry Service has maintained over the years, and I am looking forward to many more years of service to the hiking community.
Again this year, the Ferry Service benefited from the dedication and experience of Registered Maine Guide, Craig Dickstein. Craig worked an average of one day per week on the Ferry Service. Craig’s skills, and his knowledge of the trail, have made him a great asset to the Ferry Service for many years.
The other big news item was the building of an accessible privy on the east bank of the Kennebec. A dedicated team of MATC volunteers spent several days constructing this structure, and Craig and Donna Dickstein put in several additional days doing the painting, staining, and finish work. Not only is this privy a benefit to hikers, but for the first time in the history of The Ferry Service we now have a place to take shelter while waiting for hikers during the worst of weather. Until you have spent a day in the pouring rain and howling wind waiting for hikers to show up, you can not really appreciate the value of a simple shelter! Thank you, to everyone who helped with this project.
Next Year’s  schedule shapes up as follows:
- May 22 – July 9 9 am to 11 am only
- July 10 – September 30 9 am to 11 am and also 2 pm to 4pm
- October 1 – October 12 9 am to 11 am only
As always, we will be “on call” time and weather permitting, during early May and late October. Hikers should call well in advance if they want to try to cross the River during these early and late season periods. They should also remember that due to weather and River conditions, as well as other scheduling issues, there is a chance that service simply will not be available before or after the regular season, and that all early/late season crossings cost $50 per crossing. [One or two hikers per crossing.] Hikers should be aware that it is quite common for River and weather conditions to be unfavorable and even dangerous in the weeks immediately before and after our regularly scheduled season. No crossings will be provided, at all, after October 31, and before May 1. We have a season for a reason.
Looking forward to next season,
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.
Additional information can be attained by contacting Ferry Contractor:
Fletcher Mountain Outfitters
David P. Corrigan
Registered Maine Master Guide
82 Little Houston Brook Road
Concord Township, Maine 04920