East Branch of the Sebasticook River-Peltoma Ave, Pittsfield north


The East Branch of the Sebasticook River runs from north of Dexter to where it joins the West Branch below Pittsfield. As with many of my trips, the launch and takeout point are the same. The Peltoma Rd launch is used for three different daytrips.

Leaving the launch, travel upstream under the bridge. This trip was made during the second week of August in 2008. The amount of foliage that had turned was a bit unsettling but beautiful nonetheless. All through the trip the maples were bright red and glowing orange. Was it more rain than is usual or was there a hint of frost one night? The river is quite broad at this point, being part of Big Meadow Bog and the main flow of the Sebasticook. About fifteen minutes into the trip the West Branch and the East branch join. For this trip, paddle the right-hand channel towards Detroit. By the time you reach the confluence you may have seen bald eagles and ospreys, kingfishers and eastern kingbirds. As we crossed under the power line a kestrel was driving a red-tailed hawk out of its perceived territory. I find it interesting that the smaller birds seem to have no fear when it comes to who belongs where. The power lines mark the halfway point upstream, in case you're keeping track of where you are. Look for the osprey nest atop the power line supports.

Eventually the stream narrows and only by a short portage will you be able to continue upstream. The portage is thick with poison ivy and I decided not to track through it. Were you to continue you might reach Detroit and eventually Newport. Rumor has it that when the Sebasticook Lake drawdown begins after Labor Day its possible to run the river all the way from Newport to the Burnham dam. Have any or our readers done that?

As with nearly every trip in Maine, you should see great blue herons and ducks of many varieties. This trip it was blue-winged teal, mallards and wood ducks. Lobelia (cardinal flower) was in bloom all along the banks. This bright red spiky flower always surprises me, looking like it should be in a well-tended garden instead of growing wild where few ever see it.

To get to the launch site, turn onto Peltoma Ave across from Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield. About 5 miles from the turn you'll come to the Peltoma Bridge. Just before you pass over the bridge, on the right, you'll see the parking area. Watch out for the poison ivy.

 As always, remember to clean any vegetation off your boats before you leave the area so as not to transport invasive plants to the next body of water you visit. 

Enjoy your paddling see you on the water

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